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  • Caitlyn Lynch

Book Review: The Case of the Golden State Killer by Michael Morford and Michael Ferguson

The authors of this book are the hosts of an extremely popular podcast called Criminology, which delves in great depth into some major unsolved crimes. Their first season focussed on the Zodiac Killer and the second, which forms the basis for this book, on the Golden State Killer.

If you haven’t heard of the Golden State Killer, you wouldn’t be alone. Despite devouring many true crime books in my time, this was a new name to me. Reading this book, I was fascinated to discover how it was over twenty years after most of the crimes took place when DNA evidence tied together several different ‘strings’ of cimes; the rapes of the East Side Rapist in northern California and the Original Night Stalker killings of southern California among the most serious.

At times, chapters and sections in the book read almost like repetitions of each other, but that’s because the culprit developed an almost ironclad routine and rarely deviated from it over around fifty rapes… at least until he escalated to killing his victims.

Perhaps the most incredible thing about this account is that while the podcast series on the Golden State Killer was still running, and before this book was published, decades of investigation finally tied the DNA recovered from numerous crime scenes to a single man. Joseph James DeAngelo was identified as the culprit, arrested in April 2018 and is currently in prison awaiting trial for at least 12 murders and many other crimes, despite the statute of limitations having expired on the rapes he committed.

I could wish for a slightly better proofreading - there are quite a few errors in here like ‘blows reigning down on her’ which could easily have been picked up. But if you have an interest in this still-ongoing case, this book will give you some amazing insight into the degeneration of a serial killer, from robberies to stalking, rapes, and finally murder, through a detailed look at his crimes. Unfortunately, we will no doubt have to wait until after the trial and conviction of DeAngelo to discover all the details which are so far not public information. No doubt there will be many other books about the Golden State Killer in the years to come, but I doubt many of them will have so much comprehensive background, including transcripts of interviews with some of his victims.

Well worth a read, but I have to subtract a star for those disappointing proofreading issues. Four stars.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book for review through NetGalley.

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