Unmasked: My Life Solving America’s Cold Cases
Author: Paul Holes
To Be Published: April 26, 2022
Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Read: February 1-12, 2022
Jessica’s Rating: 5 stars
From the detective who found The Golden State Killer, a memoir of investigating America’s toughest cold cases and the rewards–and toll–of a life solving crime.
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 had 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.
Unmasked is Paul Holes memoir of his working cold cases in California. He worked some well-known cases, along with the not so well-known cases. He intensely works these cases to the detriment of his family life which we also see.
Holes tells us about his life in such a way that you are truly pulled in and go on these cases with him over the course of his entire career. He paces his story well and at times I had to remind myself that this isn’t a novel, but real life! This was his life in his search for the truly evil people that are out there.
This is also a true crime book, so there are descriptions of crime scenes and bodies given. There were no photos in the arc I was given as there usually are in true crime books. His determination for finding the criminal that would eventually be called The Golden State Killer lasted beyond his entire career. Though he can detach himself to work horrible crimes, he also lost so much in his life.
This memoir is definitely one for true crime fans who will have a hard time putting down as Holes pulls you into his story and brings you along for his life journey.
Unmasked is highly recommended and many thanks to Celadon Press for sending me an arc copy to read and review.