So I’m really into true crime shows, especially when I’m cross-stitching late at night, but I haven’t really read a lot of true crime books. I don’t usually stray away from fiction at all really but I guess true crime is as close to reading a fiction book as non fiction gets. I think it depends a lot on the author too.
Fortunately, Michelle McNamara knows exactly how to pull the reader in and make it feel like reading fiction while also reminding you that this shit really happened. I was a little alarmed at first when the first couple pages give you a list of “characters” and a map of where the crimes took place and when but that was just my ADHD brain screeching at the idea of having to keep track of it all. I did forget who people were occasionally but that was only because I wouldn’t be able to read for a week while Christmas kicked my ass.
Oh yeah, I should probably mention – this is technically my first book of 2020 but most of it was read in 2019. Over many weeks. That is absolutely no reflection on the book though, that was retail life at Christmas.
Anyway, back to the book. The pacing was great, I didn’t feel like I was getting information overload at any point, and the writing style was perfect. I kept myself ignorant as much as possible about the case so everything would be fresh, including the guy they arrested after the book was published.
Not having read a lot of true crime before I don’t have much to compare it to, but the editors notes and such within the book suggest that her writing style isn’t typical of true crime authors. If that’s true I’m ruined for other true crime books. The book is essentially an investigation into the crimes of a serial offender framed through the author’s experiences gathering information. However, she never at any point overshadows the crimes or the victims, instead it makes the book read like fiction. It also made for particularly bittersweet reading though – Michelle McNamara died not only before she could finish putting her book together, but shortly after its posthumous publication, EAR was finally caught.
The only downside to this book is that I couldn’t cross stitch and read it at the same time! Having said that HBO are supposedly adapting it for a series which I will totally watch.