If immersing yourself in tales of death, detectives and the depraved doesn’t sound like your ideal summer holiday, please don’t read this review. If, on the other hand, you start your day with a bowl of cereal and a side of serial killers, welcome!

The New York Times–bestselling I’ll Be Gone in the Dark (Faber & Faber, 2018) is the true story of the man who terrorised California during the 1970s and ’80s – and one woman’s search to find him. True crime writer Michelle McNamara’s masterful account of her hunt for the Golden State Killer – a name she coined – will undoubtedly become a true crime classic. Her relentless and meticulous pursuit of him is consuming – for the reader, and the writer. “There’s a scream permanently lodged in my throat now,” she writes.

As well as being an evocative and haunting snapshot of California back in the day, I’ll Be Gone in the Dark is also a compelling, intimate portrait of McNamara’s life. A memoir-style narrative is interwoven with her investigation – made all the more poignant by the fact that McNamara passed away before the book was finished. The final book was pieced together by Billy Jensen, an investigative journalist, and researcher Paul Haynes, who worked alongside McNamara as she was writing.

As author Gillian Flynn writers in her introduction to the book, as a reader of true crime – and consumer of others’ tragedies – you need to be careful in the choices you make: “I read only the best; writers who are dogged, insightful, and humane.”

McNamara is all these things. Her goal is always clear: to catch the killer and shove him into the light.

After it was published, they caught him.

By Emma Walsh

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