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  • Writer's pictureThe Bossy Bookworm

Review of Unmasked: My Life Solving America's Cold Cases by Paul Holes and Robin Gaby Fisher

Holes's account of the dogged determination and attention to detail--as well as the cost to his personal life--involved in discovering the identities of killers was fascinating.

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 Pittsburgh homicides to, yes, my twenty-year-long hunt for the Golden State Killer.

From Paul Holes, the detective who found the Golden State Killer, comes a nonfiction work about tracking cold cases--and the rewards and tolls of a lifetime of the obsessive search.

Holes presents his single-focus personality and obsessive immersion--in the gritty details of homicides, the preliminary circumstances, the aftermaths, and the various movements of potential suspects over months and years--as historically detrimental to his personal life even as it is essential to his work and successful solving of cases.

Employing someone dedicated to cold cases was a budgetary luxury we couldn't afford. Cold case units were the exception rather than the rule, despite the fact that the number of unresolved homicides were growing exponentially across the country every decade.

He tracks for the reader the somewhat circuitous route he took in beginning to look into cold cases, the seemingly mundane clues he relied upon for answers, the persistent review of the facts and killers' potential motivations, and his dogged determination in comparing notes and working cooperatively with others--even when his full-time job was not meant to be focused on this particular work, but on more administrative concerns.

I'm too chicken to watch shows about this type of topic, and the relevant details to the cases and deaths (attacks, premeditation, cruelties, horrors, blood spatter) are disturbing, but I felt more comfortable reading about them on the page.

While the work almost certainly was tedious, Unmasked never is, nor does it feel that Holes (with Fisher) is inserting drama that doesn't inherently exist.

I was captivated by the often slow, sometimes shockingly swift realizations and their implications. The development of DNA analysis and technological possibilities was fascinating.

Do you have any Bossy thoughts about this book?

If you like nonfiction books, you might also like the books I list on my Greedy Reading List Six Compelling Nonfiction Reads--and stay tuned for my upcoming list of Six Nonfiction Bossy Favorites from the Past Year!


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