Last Updated on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 274
I'll Be Gone in the Dark is a true crime novel that was written by Michelle McNamara and finished by her husband, Patton Oswalt, after Michelle suddenly died in her sleep. I'll Be Gone in the Dark is a painstakingly detailed investigation of the brutal murders and rapes that were committed by the Golden State Killer in neighborhoods across California over a ten-year span through the 1970s and 1980s. At the time of McNamara's investigative research and writing of the book, the serial rapist and murderer had not been caught. As such, the book has a desperate and urgent feel to it, and one can feel McNamara's obsession with finding the killer as the story unfolds. McNamara describes the murders in grisly detail and provides page after page of findings from her investigation and news reports on the murders.
McNamara skillfully brings the characters to life and weaves together a gripping story and a thorough investigative report. The book has an emotionally heavy, burdened quality to it, as readers are unable to forget that not only are these murders and tortures true but that the victims have never (at the time of the story's publication) received justice. McNamara writes the book not as one who merely sees the serial killings and rapes as a gruesomely interesting story but as one who is deeply determined to provide justice and closure to victims and their families. The last part of the book, which was finished by Oswalt and his hired team, provides an even more raw and gripping aspect of the story, as Oswalt was determined to not let his wife's work fall to the wayside.