Authors: Paul Holes, Jim Clemente, and Peter McDonnell
Narrators: Paul Holes, Jim Clemente, plus many others who gave interviews, statements, etc
Subtitle: The Untold Story of the Golden State Killer Investigation
TW: This book is about a serial burglar, rapist, and murderer, and therefore will include descriptions and emotional reactions to these crimes.
Evil Has a Name is an Audible original production. I’m not sure it really even counts as a book, more like an audio documentary. Before hearing about the book, I’d never actually heard of the Golden State Killer, despite his capture only being this year (several decades after his last known attacks). The book describes attacks over the years, including the escalation over time, but primarily focuses on the people who worked to solve the case and the techniques used that eventually captured the man who committed hundreds of crimes.
For the most part, the book was interesting. I learned a lot about forensic techniques and the history of how police departments worked, plus a lot about a serial killer that I’d never read about before. I didn’t find the descriptions too gruesome, and I thought it was interesting to hear from some of the people directly affected by attacks. The pacing was engaging and the order of events was well presented, flashing back and forth from recent investigatory techniques to the original series of crimes. There was information about law, profiling, genealogical research, evolution of DNA testing, and more.
On the downside, there were a few things I disliked. There were little things like sound effects and periodic difficulty understanding certain interviewees. That’s not too big a deal. The thing that most bothered me was that there was a certain amount of sensationalizing the story, both with music and with the way the production was written. It wasn’t sensationalized the way you might see on TV, but it wasn’t full-on documentary either, which I would have preferred. Given that these were horrific crimes and that some of the victims and victims’ families were interviewed, the mild sensationalism seemed inappropriate. I did appreciate that they kept it to a minimum, though.
Overall, I did like the book (production, series, documentary…whatever this is really called) and I learned a lot from it. It made me want to do my own research and reading afterwards, which for me is a mark of good nonfiction.