**THE INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER**
"It’s a mark of the highest honor when I say it’s even more riveting than an episode of 'Dateline'."
—The New York Times
From Paul Holes, the detective who found the Golden State Killer, Unmasked is a memoir that "grabs its reader in a stranglehold and proves more fascinating than fiction and darker than any noir narrative." (LA Magazine)
I order another bourbon, neat. This is the drink that will flip the switch. I don’t even know how I got here, to this place, to this point. Something is happening to me lately. I’m drinking too much. My sheets are soaking wet when I wake up from nightmares of decaying corpses. I order another drink and swig it, trying to forget about the latest case I can’t shake.
Crime solving for me is more complex than the challenge of the hunt, or the process of piecing together a scientific puzzle. The thought of good people suffering drives me, for better or worse, to the point of obsession. 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 have 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.
Retired cold case investigator Holes debuts with an exceptional memoir coauthored with bestseller Fisher (After the Fire). His unflinching look at the emotional toll the more than 27 years he spent working in Contra Costa County in the San Francisco Bay Area took on him and his family distinguishes this from similar true crime narratives. The grisly violence he witnessed responding to crime scenes so pervaded his consciousness that sometimes, as he writes, when he looked at a woman "rather than seeing the beauty of the female body, I dissected it, layer by layer, as if she were on the autopsy table." Holes was drawn to criminalistics as a child, fascinated by the TV series Quincy, and when he was 22 began his law enforcement career as a forensic toxicologist. Holes rose through the ranks, eventually concentrating on older, unsolved cases. He spent decades hunting the predator originally known as the East Area Rapist in the 1970s before his work led to the 2018 arrest of Joseph DeAngelo, identified as the Golden State Killer via DNA evidence. Holes's lifelong struggles with panic attacks only make his professional achievements more impressive. This is an essential companion to Michelle McNamara's I'll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman's Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer. Agent: Meredith Miller, UTA.
Amazing job, Paul Holes.
This was an incredible read.
It felt like you were right next to him solving these cases. He makes his investigative skills look so easy. And this was a perfect, in-depth, and sometimes painful to read regarding his marriages cracking under pressure of his career.
I can’t wait til the next book! Cheers!
Read the book. As a woman who grew up in Northern California in the 1980 and 90s then earned degrees in forensics and journalism, I’m telling you buy this book. Excellent execution.