An out of practice reader discussing the books I get around to reading.
With only a few hours left of July, I have finished!
So as mentioned in a previous post, I feel like this book was hyped more than deserved. It's promoted as something groundbreaking full of new information. But as I read, I found that not only did none of it seem groundbreaking, but none of it felt new either. I've listened to Generation Why's episode on the case - my first introduction - as well as Casefile's multi-part series. The latter especially seemed more in-depth, explaining not only the facts of the case but the cultural changes related to the case relevant to the investigation (apparently the rape kit came to prominence around the same time this creep was active). Compared to the detail and explanations these podcasts gave, this book felt shallow.
At book club this past Sunday, I realized a key reason WHY this book felt disappointing to me: I was already familiar with the case AND a true crime junkie. If this is your first exposure to the case, it's as terrifying as Gen Why's podcast was to me on a plane. So keep that in mind if you want to read it: if you're familiar with the case and/or true crime, it probably won't be as mind-blowing to you if you're not. I'm glad we discussed it at book club because it definitely gave me a new appreciation for the unique structure this book has compared to something like The Stranger Beside Me or In Cold Blood.
I had to smile towards the end because I can remember what I was doing that day. I first learned about the arrest on Twitter, but when I learned about the identity of the killer himself, I was in jail. It was for a training and I was just standing in the lobby but still. Oddly fitting. I sat there, watching them discussing this enigma on the TV and I just thought, "This is incredible. This is like my 9/11 or Kennedy Assassination". Less than a year before, I had been listening to two podcasters speculate whether we'd ever have answers. I'm glad we do now.
Final rating; 4 out of 5 stars.
Final thought: The biggest tragedy is that McNamara didn't get to finish this book herself. She was an incredible writer and I can only imagine what the book would have looked like had she lived. The Letter to an Old Man is without a doubt the best part of the book.