I recently finished watching I’ll be Gone in the Dark, a TV show based on Michelle McNamara’s book by the same name, in close to a single serving. Consisting of only 6 episodes of just under an hour each, it’s not that hard to take on, and the story is compelling, pulling you in immediately from the beginning. I think it might be worth daring you to try to stop watching once you start. As the final credits roll I find myself adding the book to my “to read” list, as I’m left still wanting to know and hear her voice, and wondering how the two versions will compare.
The series is a little different than your average true crime drama, as Michelle is made into a prominent character in her own story, and not simply disappearing into the background while reporting the facts. As someone who started with a passion for writing that led to her blog, True Crime Diary, and then eventually finds herself consumed on the trail of finding the Golden State Killer (aka East Area Rapist aka the Original Night Stalker aka… I could go on with 6 more names, it’s crazy. Although the Golden State Killer was actually noted as coined by Michelle), a prolific, serial rapist and killer who was active from 1973-1986, that I, an amateur serial killer buff of yore (this really shouldn’t surprise you) had never heard of.
What I learned in this story of the killer and his victims was tragic, mind boggling and horrifying, but is tempered with Michelle, who appears to be, quite frankly, amazing. Not just a writer, blogger, mother and wife of comedian Patton Oswalt, but a dedicated, consumed, and relentless truth seeker whose passion for the project infects everyone she talks to, hence both the book deal and resulting TV show. I felt like I briefly met a kindred spirit, and her passion instantly started to kindle the fires of my own.
As she shines the flashlight into these dark places, I found that I can’t help looking with her, but it wasn’t just the horror or the shock value of others pain and depravement, there were humans here. They who tried to live their lives despite the pain. They who were driven to find the truth. Who in spite of overwhelming odds, don’t give up. How much better could the world be if we could all be like that? Trying to press for the truth. To find justice. Even if only from our homes and our computers. Can the job of a writer and blogger change our world? If we just speak our truths and look for connections, maybe we can find something more, something meaningful. I truly hope so.
If you’re interested, here’s the trailer below: