Review #242 // The Case of the Golden State Killer – Michael Morford & Micheal Ferguson

The Case of the Golden State KillerSeason two of criminology dives into a mostly unknown case–that is, until the 40-year unsolved case was solved all of a sudden in 2018. The Golden State Killer, also known as the East Area Rapist and the Original Nightstalker, is guilty of over 100 break-ins, over 50 rapes, and at least 12 murders.

Why this book?: Now that I’m back to reading, I’ve decided that I need to make progress on the various books I have from NetGalley that I haven’t sent back feedback on. This is one of them, mainly due to it’s graphic content that I wasn’t expecting.

I would like to thank the people at Wildblue Press for allowing me to have an advance copy of this book via NetGalley.

When I read the first book that went along with this podcast series, I struggled a lot with how the book was essentially just a transcript of the podcast, with no effort to rework the dialogue into actual written prose. This didn’t take away from my enjoyment of the book, though, because it still gave some interesting information and was more or less a quick read. Either way, I liked the first one enough to pick up the second one, because I knew that the authors gave good, in-depth information, and it was a case I was interested in. Despite that, though, this book still disappointed, in the exact opposite ways that the previous book did.

The first thing I noticed when picking up this book was that they had changed the style in which it was written. The Case of the Zodiac Killer was just a straight up transcript, which was boring to read. Especially with true crime, I wanted something that was fast-paced, but the Criminology podcast adaptations just seemed to be the exact opposite. Where the Zodiac Killer book just copy and pasted from the podcast, it was obvious that more effort went into the writing of the Golden State Killer book. This one wasn’t just a straight transcript, instead all of the facts being written down as if someone were telling it to the reader. This was much better to read, if not a lot longer. At first, I was prepared for this compromise, especially because it gave less personality to the speakers and more life to what was actually being written.

However, this came with it’s own issues. And when I say ‘longer,’ I mean obnoxiously long for reading the same description of events over and over and over again. That’s the thing with the GSK: he knew what worked, so he kept doing the same thing over and over again. He broke into the houses in a very specific manner, he had a script that he used, he had a system to things, so that if anything went wrong, he knew to high-tail it out of there. So even though the descriptions and writing got better, you still had to read the same description of events over and over and over again. The authors wanted to get to every single case and victim, which I understand wanting to do, but 50 pages would have 3 victims with the same exact descriptions. Nothing changed until over three-quarters of the way through, when the GSK graduated to murders. This is when the book started going faster and I no longer felt like I was wading through pudding to get to the end of this book.

One thing that I found that I enjoyed greatly in this book was that they included interviews with not just detectives and investigators, but also victims and witnesses and family members. I found these interviews extremely interesting, as it gave another point of view that I wasn’t expecting to get. When you read a true crime novel, you’re expecting an impersonal description of events in order to get the information across as accurately as possible. But adding this aspect into the book was so helpful to understanding the true aspect of what was going on. Too often people romanticize events like these because they are so impersonal in the way they’re told (think Ted Bundy). To me, this was a way to impart the true pain that was caused by the GSK’s actions.

Final Rating: ★★★☆☆


It’s odd, because while they reworked the aspects that I really struggled with in the first one, it seems like they over-corrected. They took away the direct transcription, but the case was so repetitive that it made the book so long and boring to get through. And while I really enjoyed the interviews and all of the information that was given, other things distracted from that. Another thing that I noticed, which may have been because I was reading the e-ARC copy, was the amount of typos. I swear, there was one or two every. single. page.

Would I Recommend?

While I haven’t read other books on this case, I almost want to say that I would recommend reading something else. I know that I’ll be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara is highly recommended for this case, but I haven’t read that one personally, and when I did start reading it, it seemed more of like a memoir on McNamara. Either way, I think this book is a solid choice if you’re okay with rereading some repetitive descriptions. The interviews are really interesting, and the last couple chapters delve into the fact that the perpetrator in this case, which had gone 40-years unsolved, was caught in 2018 thanks to forensic genealogy. I thought that this was a really unique area, because how many books about unsolved cases can pop in at the end and say “Hey, nevermind! They got him!”

The Case of the Golden State KillerAdditional Information:

Published: August 29th, 2018

Publisher: WildBlue Press

Page Count: 438

Genre: NonFiction/True Crime

Synopsis: via Goodreads

In 1976, a serial rapist terrorized Sacramento County in California. The masked predator made his way into the homes of his unsuspecting victims, leaving a trail of devastation and destruction behind him. He moved on to other areas in Northern California, and then onward to Southern California where he sank to an all new level of depravity, and his evil urges drove him to murder; again, and again.

In Northern California, he was known as the East Area Rapist. In Southern California, he was called the Original Night Stalker. When his crimes all over California were finally connected, he would become known as the Golden State Killer, and by 1986, he had racked up a staggering tally of over 100 home break-ins or burglaries, 50 or more rapes, and at least 12 murders.

On the heels of their wildly popular 2017 Season One podcast series on the Zodiac killer, veteran podcaster Mike Morford, and true crime research/blogger Mike Ferguson, the hosts of true crime podcast Criminology teamed again in Spring 2018 to unmask this killer in a story that spans more than 40 years. Joined by the investigators who hunted him, the witnesses who saw him, and the survivors who lived to tell their stories, Criminology Season Two: The Case of the Golden State Killer examines the story of the most prolific serial rapist and murderer in American history.