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Why Do Serial Killers Kill? I’ll Be Gone In the Dark Attempts to Answer That.

i'll be gone in the dark michelle mcnamara why do serial killers kill?

There is, of course, no easy answers to the question of why serial killers kill. Author Michelle McNamara pondered that for many years before her early death at age 46. Whether or not her research into the Golden State Killer played a role in her death is  unanswered. But her writing style is a delight.

I listened to the audio book of I’ll Be Gone in the Dark. For some reason, the book wasn’t available on Amazon and I had a few extra credits on Audible so I downloaded it. Listening to the nine hour  audiobook was draining. I have to admit I think I would have preferred to have read the I’ll Be Gone in the Dark book, because I did not like the narrator of the audio book that much.

One of the most famous serial killers…

The Golden State killer operated in northern and southern California in the 1970s and 1980s. He started as a rapist and progressed to murdering about a dozen people. The Golden State Killer was only caught and charged in April of 2018.  The version of the audiobook I consumed did not have details of the arrest, but the book that’s now available does have them.

I think it would be interesting to read the new book because the audio book contains a lot of speculation about various suspects.  I don’t think the man who was ultimately charged was ever suspected of the crime.

Golden State Killer charged, I'll be gone in the dark, Michelle McNamar
Sketch of the suspect in the 1970s.

Golden State Killer Charged

The Golden State Killer was found in Bath New York in 2018. His name is Joseph James DeAngelo, and he was originally from California.

The book contains lots of informations about all the murders attributed to DeAngelo, as well as the more than 50 rapes. DeAngelo is only charged with one murder, because the statute of limitations on the rapes have run out.

Throughout the book, McNamara discusses her own involvement with all the various detectives assigned to the case, from the 70s to the present day. She describes their personalities and how she interacted with them. She also details her personal life with her husband, comedian Patton Oswalt, and their daughter. 

Mostly, she describes her own obsession with the case: how she sat on her bed every night with her laptop, exploring various databases related to the case.  She ponders over the various suspects, and even found some suspects for the police to consider, but nothing ever panned out.

I’ll Be Gone in the Dark Book

McNamara wrote:

One day soon, you’ll hear a car pull up to your curb, an engine cut out. You’ll hear footsteps coming up your front walk. Like they did for Edward Wayne Edwards, twenty-nine years after he killed Timothy Hack and Kelly Drew, in Sullivan, Wisconsin. Like they did for Kenneth Lee Hicks, thirty years after he killed Lori Billingsley, in Aloha, Oregon.

The doorbell rings.

No side gates are left open. You’re long past leaping over a fence. Take one of your hyper, gulping breaths. Clench your teeth. Inch timidly toward the insistent bell.

This is how it ends for you.

“You’ll be silent forever, and I’ll be gone in the dark,” you threatened a victim once.

Open the door. Show us your face.

Walk into the light.” 

McNamara died in 2016. DeAngelo was arrested two years later. It happened because investigators were able to convince a company that provides consumers with DNA results to work with them.

Apparently some of DeAngelo’s distant relatives had uploaded their DNA results, and this was how he was traced.

Michelle McNamara Death

Some people have said the book would never have become famous if McNamara hadn’t died, and, perhaps, if DeAngelo hadn’t been found. But I disagree. I found the book compelling, even if I didn’t like the audiobook format. 

McNamara, who was a blogger about True Crime, was a very talented writer. And she had the investigative instincts of a reporter or even a detective. Her life ended too soon.

Grade: A-

Visit other Magic of History’s posts about crime

The Blue is a mystery and a thriller, set in Europe during the porcelain wars.

West Cork is the story of a murder in Ireland in the 1990s.

Bloodlands is several stories of murders in the mid- 20th century in the USA.
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2 thoughts on “Why Do Serial Killers Kill? I’ll Be Gone In the Dark Attempts to Answer That.

  1. Mary Anne, Interesting blog! Just like you, I am also not into audible books, I like to immerse myself into the book, as I block out all other perception! But this sounds like a good read, criminal minds are always fascinating, I once was a fan of the gangster books written about the Cosa Nostra, could not get enough of them. Do you have any good outlets for the books you review? I think your reviews would be great for Amazon or that type of sales venue!


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