i'll be gone in the dark
Anyone even vaguely familiar with true crime is aware that the topic has exploded the last few years. There are several theorized reasons for this, but the primary one that I personally relate to is that in delving into these stories, women (in particular) can confront fears and learn the methods and stories by which other women have so often succumbed to - or survived - the violence so often perpetrated by men.
I'd heard this book touted as not only an excellent examination of the Golden State Killer but also of the psychological reasons so many people, especially women, become quite obsessed (or at least intensely focused on) these crimes. Though McNamara shared some of the upset and obsession she experienced while researching and writing, it certainly doesn't seem that she intentionally (or even unintentionally) intended to portray her own psychological responses as the motivation behind this book. By default, we glimpse (and empathise) with these responses, but don't expect a deep psychological examination.
The psychological part that is really exhibited, however, is the manipulation and terrorizing perpetrated by the GSK. One would think that the rape of so many women who survived and, of course, the rape and murder of many others would be the ultimate terror of these crimes. They are the horrific and end results, obviously, by McNamara knew that the most torturous part of these scenes was the psychological manipulation of the GSK. She describes in detail not only what he did to the women (and men, in a differing fashion), but how it would feel to be one of these women, believing that the worst of it was over only to realize that it wasn't.
Confession: I couldn't get completely through In Cold Blood. I don't know whether this was from boredom (which I was surprised to experience), the language, or just bad timing. I know that one is the gold standard for many "fans" of true crime, which I'm not really considering myself to be here. But I sort of feel like if you are not a fan of In Cold Blood, you may find I'll Be Gone more to your taste. My memory of In consists of Capote being in love with his own voice and also sensationalizing and pitying. McNamara's work felt much more relatable and it's abundantly clear that she had no compulsion for idolizing the GSK; she wanted only to share the experiences of the victims and to catch this incomprehensible predator.
It should also be noted that she was an excellent writer.