Welcome to Friday Reads. Each Friday, I’ll review any books I’ve completed that week, as well as share what I’m reading right now. And by “Each Friday,” I mean “some Fridays.”
I’ll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer—Michelle McNamara—4.5* (Nov 20)
I listened to this audiobook in about a week and really enjoyed it. The narrator (Gabra Zackman) was very engaging.
This book has been on my radar for awhile because its many “parts” fascinate me. It’s true crime, covering Michelle McNamara’s investigation into the Golden State Killer. McNamara was not a professional sleuth in that she’s not part of official law enforcement or investigative entities. She was a woman with an interest that became an obsession, which eventually led to real interactions with the case and those involved. But McNamara died suddenly before her book was finished—and shortly before the GSK was apprehended.
It took many people to put together McNamara’s book for publication after her unexpected passing. Yet it doesn’t feel disjointed or incomplete for the most part.
My only real criticism of the book is what was done after the GSK was caught. That’s where it felt disjointed. The epilogue especially feels incomplete—they tell us the GKS was caught but not much about him or how. Just the most basic facts. Instead, they spend a lot of time including speculation on whether or not McNamara helped them catch the guy. They also included a lot of outside articles about her investigation that felt repetitive and I didn’t follow the reasoning for what they did or didn’t include. I understand the book was a combination of true crime and memoir (focused on her obsession with the case), but the wrap-up felt unbalanced.
Still, it was a riveting story and McNamara’s writing is equally brutal and sympathetic. The audiobook is 10 hours long but it held my attention.
A Treacherous Curse—Deanna Raybourn—3* (Nov 16)
I enjoyed book 3 in the series more than I enjoyed book 2. Not that I disliked book 2. The mystery here was interesting, involving archeology, rich folks, and a missing man. The personal relationships (mostly on Stoker’s part) increased the stakes substantially in what would’ve otherwise been a relatively ordinary mystery.
Two criticisms: the cast was large and sometimes I found it difficult to keep all of the rich men distinct, especially when they were related, had similar names, or had multiple nicknames/titles. Also, the ending (no spoilers) felt too far-fetched, and I’m willing to forgive a lot in the name of entertaining fiction.
Truly Devious—Maureen Johnson—4* (Nov 19)
Note: This is my second time reading this book. The review is largely from my original reading last year.
This delightful mystery takes place in the perfect setting – a remote boarding school with a dark past.
Stevie Bell is there to find answers to the questions surrounding the death of the founder’s family 80 years before, but she somehow finds herself in the middle of current-day drama as well. The characters are all distinctive and I had no problems keeping everyone straight in my mind. I also like how casual the inclusiveness of minorities feels.
In typical Maureen Johnson fashion, the book ends on a major cliffhanger, leaving the reader waiting for the next installment. I knew going in that this was a series (I believe a trilogy) so I wasn’t surprised. That didn’t make it any less frustrating though!
11/19/19 update: I read this again now that book 2 is out and book 3 will be released in January. The second read was also very enjoyable.
Book #2 in the Truly Devious trilogy. Book #3 comes out in January.