Book Review

Unmasked by Paul Holes

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I first heard about the Golden State Killer from Michelle McNamara’s book, I’ll Be Gone in the Dark. The fact that this murderer had gone undetected for so long — an individual who had raped, killed, and traumatized so many — was horrifying. And yet, like many of us, I was fascinated by the clues left behind. And, by the trail of DNA that would one day lead Detective Paul Holes to the killer’s doorstep…

Holes takes us on an immersive, behind-the scenes look into forensics and criminal profiling. But he also reveals an extremely personal look into the toll such work takes on a life. This is a must read memoir for fans of true crime!

Reader’s Thoughts

I don’t read true crime very often, but this book had me hooked from the instant it arrived on my doorstep. Paul Holes dives into a variety of the cases he’s been involved in over the years. Some of these crimes are familiar and famous, others not. He recounts the cases in detail (warning: it can be grisly) but also, in a way that is respectfully focused on uncovering the truth.

Holes’ insights on forensics and profiling were fascinating. The book is very much focused on his career and it was interesting to see his progression within his field. He has clearly dedicated his entire life to this field, and is very good at what he does.

However, Paul is also very open about his obsession with work and the detriment that was to his personal life. The memoir is honest and raw (and quite sad) as he recounts how his lack of work/life balance caused him to miss out on knowing his children.

His perspective on catching the Golden State Killer was also enthralling. His friendship with Michelle McNamara and the overlap with her book, makes this a great follow-up for those who loved I’ll Be Gone in the Dark. This was a decades long obsession for Holes that paid off. And it was extremely interesting to see all the time and work that went into catching DeAngelo.

Ultimately, this book was really well written. Flowing smoothly between his cases, work life, and home life, this memoir had me completely riveted from start to finish. It’s sure to be a hit with true crime fans!

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Recommended for:

Fans of true crime!

This post contains affiliate links; as an Amazon associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. ARC provided courtesy of the publisher, Celadon. All opinions expressed are my own.

About the book:

(From the publisher) From the detective who found The Golden State Killer, a memoir of investigating America’s toughest cold cases and the rewards–and toll–of a life solving crime.

People always ask how I am able to detach from the horrors of my work. Part of it is an innate capacity to compartmentalize; the rest is experience and exposure, and I’ve had plenty of both. But I had always taken pride in the fact that I can keep my feelings locked up to get the job done. It’s only been recently that it feels like all that suppressed darkness is beginning to seep out.

When I look back at my long career, there is a lot I am proud of. I have caught some of the most notorious killers of the twenty-first century and brought justice and closure for their victims and families. I want to tell you about a lifetime solving these cold cases, from Laci Peterson to Jaycee Dugard to the Pittsburg homicides to, yes, my twenty-year-long hunt for the Golden State Killer.

But a deeper question eats at me as I ask myself, at what cost? I have sacrificed relationships, joy—even fatherhood—because the pursuit of evil always came first. Did I make the right choice? It’s something I grapple with every day. Yet as I stand in the spot where a young girl took her last breath, as I look into the eyes of her family, I know that, for me, there has never been a choice. “I don’t know if I can solve your case,” I whisper. “But I promise I will do my best.”

It is a promise I know I can keep.

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