Time Magazine International Edition

True crime redeemed in I’ll Be Gone in the Dark

MICHELLE MCNAMARA’S SHOCKING DEATH ON APRIL 21, 2016, left two stories unfinished. There was the crime journalist’s yearslong investigation into a serial rapist and murderer she called the Golden State Killer, who terrorized California in the 1970s and ’80s—and about whom she was at work on her first book. And there was the fractured narrative of McNamara’s private life: the loving family unit she’d created with comedian Patton Oswalt and their young daughter in one compartment, and the traumatic history that fueled her furtive late-night research hidden in another.

After writing about the case on her popular blog True Crime Diary and in Los Angeles magazine, McNamara spent her final years working out her obsession with the Golden State Killer on the page. When she died, Oswalt enlisted fellow crime writer Billy Jensen to help her researcher Paul Haynes collate the manuscript that would become I’ll Be Gone in the Dark—a best seller and instant classic. But it wasn’t until after its publication, in 2018, that DNA evidence led to the killer’s arrest. In a fantastic HBO docuseries that shares the book’s title, director Liz Garbus (What Happened, Miss Simone?) carries on the collective effort to finish McNamara’s work, fusing mystery and biography into an unusually empathetic true-crime story that feels complete at last.

has many elements endemic to the genre: the expert interviews, the

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