Evil Has a Name - The Untold Story of the Golden State Killer Investigation - Paul Holes, Jim Clemente and Peter McDonnell
It’s difficult to imagine a reign of terror quite like that of the length and level of ferocity delivered by the Golden State Killer. Those who have jumped onto the true crime podcast bandwagon in the last few years will have already heard a tonne of discussion about the collection of frightening cases that were all eventually attributed to the one serial perpetrator. Spread over a large geographic area, these sadistic crimes spurned enormous manhunts and were able to make entire Californian towns alter their behaviour out of fear. No one was safe.
Because of the blizzard of online discourse out there about the Golden State Killer (as he was coined by the late true crime author Michelle McNamara, and was perhaps how the killer most referred to as of late), a new generation has recently been made aware of what Californian detectives were dealing with in the mid 1970’s to mid-1980’s period. The sheer scope of the investigations, both separate and combined at different levels of cross county cooperation, was mind boggling. For those wishing to know how such a spider’s web became untangled just this year, an audiobook that sifts through and collates the reams and reams of information is now here to detail exactly how it was done.
EVIL HAS A NAME - The Untold Story of the Golden State Killer Investigation is an excellent summarized audio documentary of what led to an arrest after over forty years of investigators chasing what appeared to be a ghost. From whoa to now, this true crime audiobook/long form podcast does an excellent job in selecting the pertinent details that show the processes and advances in technology which gave such a herculean task the focus required to bring about a result. The host intrusion into the narrative is minimal (appreciated greatly by someone who listens to and reads a lot of true crime) and the audio snippets from the reporters and investigators over the years are slotted alongside the narration of Detective Paul Holes and the wrenching accounts of the survivors.
There’s plenty of moments during this audio book where things start to make sense; as in the pieces that you thought you knew finally are slotted into the timeline of such a convoluted case. Snippets are explained, and repetitive information is filtered out to create a piece that wastes no time in over dramatics or salacious detailing. The horror is not ignored; it is more that its inclusion is not delivered in such a way that it becomes a tool of entertainment. The focus is always on the those that worked tirelessly and never gave up, and the survivors who put themselves through further anguish by continuing to talk about their experiences, bravely relating what they observed about the GSK during their own attacks.
Host Jim Clemente is a familiar voice to those who listen to the Wondery podcast REAL CRIME PROFILE and his audio appearances IN EVIL HAS A NAME serve to direct the flow of events, pulling the thoughts of the listener back into line where required. The insights of the man who was there, retired Detective Paul Holes, are invaluable in giving weight and insight into what he was experiencing as the case became so enormous that all possible contacts, resources and police hunches needed to be utilized.
ABOUT THE HOSTS:
Paul Holes is the forensic criminologist and retired Costa County Detective who spent 20 years trying to crack the Golden State Killer case, and finally did.
Jim Clemente is a retired FBI profiler and former New York City prosecutor who has investigated some of the highest profile criminal cases in US history, including the Unabomber.
Greenlight, Benjamin Stevenson
The success of Jack Quick’s initial podcast investigation into the death of Eliza Dacey surprised no one more than Jack himself.
GREENLIGHT works extremely well as an audio title as the conspiratorial way it has been written lends itself beautifully to that platform of intimacy. In our ears it’s all quietly confessed secrets and the discovery of lies as we move around with producer Jack Quick in the shadows of a country town. This is not necessarily a sleepy town. This is wine country.
If you’ve ever stayed in an Australian wine region, you might feel that you recognize the (fictional) setting and some of the townsfolk who feature in GREENLIGHT. Wine towns ride on the back of tourism, but the locals aren’t always friendly to anyone who rides in to dabble in the business of winemaking, or to involve themselves in transactions of buying and selling wine. In Jack Quick we have someone trying to do right whilst acknowledging the wrongs that had been tactically employed along the way. He’s a curious character, and not the alpha male we normally see leading the charge in crime fiction. We’ve had enough of those. People who are able to mess up, be beaten up, and then get up again when required are way more interesting to read of.
GREENLIGHT combines the appeal of the two fastest growing forms of digital entertainment that we have right now - podcasts and audio books. Today’s time poor readers have leaped on to both of these mediums with increasing gusto in the last two years or so and it’s all to the good. GREENLIGHT is an absorbing work of fiction that gives us the required time with each character, somehow managing to gallop us past what we should have been paying our most keen attention to. Multiple voice actors are used here in the podcast excerpts that are inserted judiciously into Jack’s narrative. The lead voice actor here is brilliant at differentiating the characters he plays in Jack’s scenes, so there’s never any confusion as to whose voice it is that we are hearing.
The mental health issues raised in this novel are not often addressed in fiction in relation to the males of our species. This is quite enlightening to read of, as negotiating your everyday working life around a full blown eating disorder is just another difficulty to your day. Jack’s character and life outside of his career are fully fleshed, and the read is all the better for it.
GREENLIGHT is a polished debut work of crime fiction that offers up the trifecta of entertainment; it is engaging, topical, and satisfying. The excellent voice work in this Audible production adds much to the experience of being immersed in the struggles of Jack as he questions his own motivations and the cost of success in our entertainment obsessed world.
P.S. This reviewer lives in a wine region. Wine IS art.