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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 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.


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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 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.

30 review for Unmasked: My Life Solving America's Cold Cases

  1. 4 out of 5

    MarilynW

    Unmasked: My Life Solving America's Cold Cases by Paul Holes I started this book, and except for a few breaks to get my circulation going again, I could not stop reading it until I finished. I was aware of almost every crime mentioned in the book, including the kidnap and killing of a girl who went to a high school near mine, at the same time I was in high school. Former detective (and many other things) Paul Hole writes of his constant immersion in cold cases, from the beginning of his working c Unmasked: My Life Solving America's Cold Cases by Paul Holes I started this book, and except for a few breaks to get my circulation going again, I could not stop reading it until I finished. I was aware of almost every crime mentioned in the book, including the kidnap and killing of a girl who went to a high school near mine, at the same time I was in high school. Former detective (and many other things) Paul Hole writes of his constant immersion in cold cases, from the beginning of his working career to beyond his retirement from law enforcement. Cold cases get set aside for a lot of reasons, including the need to deal with current crimes and the lack of time and funds to work both current and past crimes at the same time. But there are people out there who aren't going to let go and Paul Hole is one of them. The Golden State Killer terrorized, raped, tortured, and killed and it took more than forty years to catch this man. His targets were people living and sleeping in their homes, the place where they should be safe from evil monsters like him. For a long time, several of his crime sprees were attributed to more than one person. Also, various law enforcement departments were unwilling to share information, tools, and leads with other departments, allowing the killer to run free and commit more crime for decades. But people like Paul Hole and others did not give up and finally the Golden State Killer is caught. I am fascinated with all that goes into catching a person who terrorizes, maims, and kills innocent people and am thankful for those who commit themselves to this almost impossible task. Hole makes no secret that his obsession with cold cases had a negative impact on his home life. He not only spent his free time staying at work to keep on tracking down leads even when his superiors forbid him to do so, he also spent his home time locked in his office, working cold cases. He admits that he couldn't even focus on conversations with his family or with neighbors because his mind was always on the cases he was working. I'm very thankful that the capture of people like the Golden State Killer should keep others like him from thinking they will never be caught. Paul Hole knows what he wants to do, what he feels compelled to do, and he and others like him are not going to give up on bringing monsters to justice. Pub: April 26, 2022 Thank you to Celadon Reads for the print version of this ARC.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Lisa of Troy

    This is the true story of crime guru, Paul Holes, as he ponders over the various cases of his career including Laci/Connor Peterson, Jaycee Dugard, and the Golden State Killer. Unmasked is a fascinating narrative of Paul’s most famous cases. It is incredibly fast-paced and extremely interesting. This is one of those instances where I wished that GoodReads allowed half star ratings because I would have rated this 4.5 stars. However, I am going to round down to 4 stars as noted below. The gold stand This is the true story of crime guru, Paul Holes, as he ponders over the various cases of his career including Laci/Connor Peterson, Jaycee Dugard, and the Golden State Killer. Unmasked is a fascinating narrative of Paul’s most famous cases. It is incredibly fast-paced and extremely interesting. This is one of those instances where I wished that GoodReads allowed half star ratings because I would have rated this 4.5 stars. However, I am going to round down to 4 stars as noted below. The gold standard for true crime storytelling is the podcast Serial. That really sparked my interest in the case, and I ended up going over the entire 1,000+ page police report (less some photos of the victim), the trial transcripts, the court filings, reviewed addresses on Google Maps, watched documentaries, read the victim’s diary, and pored over the attorney notes. What I loved about Serial is this dance, this back and forth, is this guy innocent or is he guilty, did he do it or didn’t he. And I had to know. The storytelling on this wasn’t as good as Serial. In my opinion, it was too fast paced. I wanted a deeper dive; I wanted to go into the details. One of the cases that Paul Holes mentioned very briefly was Laci and Connor Peterson. However, I am still confused about this case. Scott had a mistress, but that doesn’t necessarily make him a murderer. According to testimony, he had no scratches or bruises. Usually if you are strangling or smothering someone, they will claw you back (at least based on my understanding). No one reported hearing gunshots. Laci’s death was ruled undetermined. Based on my amateur sleuthing, the only evidence linking Scott to the crime is a single hair of Laci’s in pliers on a boat, no blood. I have long hair, and I am sure if I used a pair of pliers, my hair could easily be in them. Scott has never confessed to the police. Do I believe that Scott did it? You bet. However, I am not sure if I was a juror that I could convict Scott. He is definitely a liar and a cheater, but he might not be a killer. How did the jurors get comfortable enough to convict? Not only did they convict, they gave him the death penalty. There was testimony about a 90-pound bag of cement. The prosecution argued that Scott made 5 cement anchors, and four of them were missing. The defense said that Scott used the extra cement on his driveway. The prosecution theorized that Laci was dumped in Brooks Island. Did they ever recover the four cement anchors? So clearly I have unresolved questions. And just to be clear again. I think Scott did it. I just want to understand the evidence better that convicted him. I would have liked Paul to write an entire book on the Laci/Connor Peterson case versus just a few pages in passing. This book primarily focused on the Golden State Killer case, and the other cases had a couple of paragraphs to one chapter. It was great for a very quick overview. The discussion of DNA was also interesting. Serial killers in recent years have been identified using a DNA sample from a relative. BTK, Dennis Rader, was identified after his daughter had a pap smear, and a warrant was obtained to use that sample. This raises some legal and ethical questions. How does the daughter feel about her sample being tested? She probably had no idea that her sample was going to be used against her father. Will this prevent some family members from seeking medical treatment in the future? Does someone have a right to their DNA? If a person placed their child for adoption, maybe they don’t want to be found. Is this ethical for the police to pose as someone looking for relatives when they are actually trying to find a serial killer? I don’t have the answers to these questions, but they are interesting to think about. Overall, good food for thought, riveting, great name recognition, but I wanted a deeper dive. *Thanks, Celadon Books, for a free copy of this book in exchange for my fair and unbiased review. 2022 Reading Schedule Jan Animal Farm Feb Lord of the Flies Mar The Da Vinci Code Apr Of Mice and Men May Memoirs of a Geisha Jun Little Women Jul The Lovely Bones Aug Charlotte's Web Sep Life of Pi Oct Dracula Nov Gone with the Wind Dec The Secret Garden Connect With Me! Blog Twitter BookTube Facebook

  3. 4 out of 5

    Petra X has spent 2 days just sleeping & reading

    Review The book is very two-note. The first is the author telling us that he is really fantastic at solving crimes, repeatedly, even the best in the world at one point. The second is that he admits he is a really lousy husband and father BUT that is because he is so dedicated to solving crimes. The main case is the Golden State Killer, as told from the author's point of view. It was ok, it didn't grab me, it's too well-known. The author is a good guy, a good detective, a very caring person with Review The book is very two-note. The first is the author telling us that he is really fantastic at solving crimes, repeatedly, even the best in the world at one point. The second is that he admits he is a really lousy husband and father BUT that is because he is so dedicated to solving crimes. The main case is the Golden State Killer, as told from the author's point of view. It was ok, it didn't grab me, it's too well-known. The author is a good guy, a good detective, a very caring person with the not-uncommon male problem of not being able to show emotion when appropriate. He can be emotional for the victims, but not for his wife and children. The writing was ok, but there weren't any highs and lows, where you were gripped at one point and then coasted until the next climax was building. I know that the author has a podcast, but I don't do podcasts and I think maybe if I had followed them, the book might have been more involving. 3.5 stars, sad not to elevate it to 4, but it wasn't that enjoyable to me. Although definitely 10 stars to the author for sticking at the case for so many years and ultimately solving it. I think the author would make a really interesting dinner guest, I think he would hold the table spellbound with his tales, just not in the book, or not for me. __________ Reading notes The author had me at, "It stood to reason that at some point I'd start running out of things to read. I was rummaging around the shelves one day, desperate to find something new - a book I'd overlooked..." This author is one of us!

  4. 4 out of 5

    JanB

    True crime is having a moment, but I’ve been a true crime fan since my teenage years. My interest is not in rubbernecking or a voyeuristic desire to peek into other people’s misery. I don’t think it is for anyone who works in the field, or for those who read about it. It’s driven by empathy for the victims, a desire for justice, and how that justice came about. It’s delving into the psychology of a person who is far removed from what we think of as being human, and the investigative techniques u True crime is having a moment, but I’ve been a true crime fan since my teenage years. My interest is not in rubbernecking or a voyeuristic desire to peek into other people’s misery. I don’t think it is for anyone who works in the field, or for those who read about it. It’s driven by empathy for the victims, a desire for justice, and how that justice came about. It’s delving into the psychology of a person who is far removed from what we think of as being human, and the investigative techniques used in solving the mystery. This book delivers all that and more. Many people live with the pain and horror of not only losing a loved one to murder, but of knowing the killer is still out there. Cases grow cold, and law enforcement agencies are overwhelmed. Luckily, there are people like Paul Holes who never give up. Many of us know Paul Holes as the investigator who was instrumental in catching the elusive Golden State Killer (GSK), AKA ‘Night Stalker’ and ‘East Area Rapist (EAR)’, the monster who raped, terrorized, and murdered throughout the state of California between 1974 and 1986. Paul also worked with Michelle McNamara, who wrote the book, I’ll Be Gone in the Dark (also excellent). It took more than 20 years, but just days from his retirement, the monster was caught using DNA technology. It was fascinating to read how it all came together. Despite having read McNamara's book and watching the documentary I learned new things. Paul’s career and successes reach far beyond the most well-known cases, bringing some measure of peace and resolution to many families. He obtained a college degree in biochemistry and began his career in a crime lab, but ultimately his career path led him to work on the investigative side of things. He blew the dust off of old case files and worked to solve them, often in his free time. The EAR (GSK) in particular became an obsession. His talent, keen insight, and background in science was invaluable. This well-written book is part true-crime, and part memoir. Paul details some of the cases he has worked on. No one LIKES to read grisly details of crimes, knowing they were real people who lived and whose lives were cut short, but I did like hearing how he and the other investigators work a case, the methods they use, as well as the science behind it, both behavioral and hard science. Paul details how DNA is a game changer and, from his explanations, it is clearly not as simple as it sounds, or as clear cut as it is depicted on TV. Paul makes a complicated subject easy to understand. Paul doesn’t shy away from the toll his career has taken on his mental health and his relationships. To cope, he exercises, spends time outdoors, and enjoys an occasional bourbon. Still, he suffers from nightmares and the occasional panic attack. He lifts the veil and tells it like it is. The job is not as romanticized as we see on TV. It is not easy to immerse oneself daily into depravity, but we, as a society, owe him and others in the field a debt of gratitude for their dogged determination to let no case go unsolved, and no murderer go unpunished. The most touching moment in the book was when a woman who was a victim of the GSK called Paul to ask if the news of his arrest was true. She cried tears of relief after spending 40 years living in terror that he would come back for her. It must be moments like these that make it all worthwhile. Paul retired in 2018, but as he is still a relatively young man, he continues to use his investigative skills throughout the country, and he co-hosts the excellent podcast, The Murder Squad, with Billy Jensen, an investigative reporter. His goal continues to be solving cold cases, not exploiting victims. One of the things I admire the most about Paul Holes, is the utmost respect and empathy he has for victims and their loved ones. * Published 4/26/2022 by Celedon books * this was buddy read with Marialyce and Dorie. Do check out their reviews! * I received a digital copy for review vis NetGalley. All opinions are my own.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Julie

    Unmasked: My Life Solving America’s Cold Cases by Paul Holes is a 2022 Celadon Books publication. I may be the only true crime fan who has never gotten into podcasts. But even if you aren't aware of Paul's wildly popular True Crime podcasts, you may still recognize him from his many appearances on true crime television shows. You might also be familiar with his name in connection with to the East Area Rapist/Golden State Killer case- which was the case for me. While this is a memoir- it might be Unmasked: My Life Solving America’s Cold Cases by Paul Holes is a 2022 Celadon Books publication. I may be the only true crime fan who has never gotten into podcasts. But even if you aren't aware of Paul's wildly popular True Crime podcasts, you may still recognize him from his many appearances on true crime television shows. You might also be familiar with his name in connection with to the East Area Rapist/Golden State Killer case- which was the case for me. While this is a memoir- it might be better described as a 'true crime' memoir, as for the most part, the book is focused on Paul's career path, the cases he worked and the outcomes, but does delve into his personal life, as well. The main criminal case the book is centered around is the East Area Rapist/Golden State Killer case, but he tells of many other cases he helped to solve and described how his career started, how he got bitten by the 'cold case' bug and why he often had to work those cases 'off the clock'. Unlike some of his crime solving buddies, Paul is not an amateur sleuth. He has a background in criminology, having worked in the Sheriff's department in Contra Costa. But, it is his work on cold cases that he seems the most proud of. If not for Paul’s dedication, and near obsession with cold cases, many of these cases would still be sitting in an unsolved folder somewhere, I’m sure. Now, though, many families finally have the answers they deserved, justice was served, and some people were exonerated from suspicion. That said, I admit I do have some misgivings, if that is the right word, about the 'obsessive' mentality of folks like Billy Jensen, Michelle McNamara, and Paul Holes. On one hand, I greatly admire their tenacious dedication, but on the other, I see a lot of collateral damage. When it came to Paul's personal life, he was not as heroic, in my opinion. With memoirs it can be hard to keep an unbiased view or maintain neutrality if one disagrees with the writer's perspective, though I really did try to talk myself down and keep it in perspective. In this case, Paul's work/family balance was hard for me to fully accept and speaks to the 'obsessiveness' he seems to deliberately chose over his loved ones. He also blames the wrong entity for all the evil in this world, and I felt offended by his critical views on faith and God. I also grew weary of the dissection of his first marriage, which basically felt like defensive grievance airing, with one instance in particular resulting in a hard eye roll on my part. I think I would have preferred hearing more about his current wife, who works in the same profession, and appears to be a much better match for him. All that said, most people are going to buy this book for the true crime stories, and on that front, Holes delivers wholeheartedly. Despite my reservations in some cases, and my concern about glorifying and monetizing this manic lifestyle, I am glad we have people like Paul who are willing to go the extra mile, and I’m glad to see that his hard work has morphed into a second career for him. There is no question that many of us breathe a little easier now that a truly horrifying monster has been identified and is off the streets, and that the victims and their families can finally stop looking over their shoulders, and will get some long overdue justice. For that peace of mind, we can thank Paul and his partners in crime, so to speak, and of course I have utmost respect the people who sacrificed much, and who refused to give up on these cold cases. Overall, a very interesting glimpse into the life of a cold case investigator. The cases highlighted are well-chosen and have all the elements true crime fanatics want to read and hear about. If you are a fan of Paul’s podcasts, and of the true crime genre, you won’t want to miss this book. 4 stars

  6. 5 out of 5

    Dorie - Cats&Books :)

    ***HAPPY PUBLICATION DAY*** The blurb for this book is incredibly extensive. It will tell you that Paul Holes discovered quite early on in his career as a criminologist that he felt the most satisfaction out of solving cold cases. Even while holding down a job in a police department and having a family with two young children, he spent all of his off hours on these cases. I wondered about how he sometimes validated sneaking in samples of DNA for cold cases while the department was struggling to ke ***HAPPY PUBLICATION DAY*** The blurb for this book is incredibly extensive. It will tell you that Paul Holes discovered quite early on in his career as a criminologist that he felt the most satisfaction out of solving cold cases. Even while holding down a job in a police department and having a family with two young children, he spent all of his off hours on these cases. I wondered about how he sometimes validated sneaking in samples of DNA for cold cases while the department was struggling to keep up with a mountain of current cases, where they might be able to find a captive still ALIVE!! He justified a lot of his actions, but I felt for the people that had to work with him. He was very much centered in his own world! Obviously this took a great toll on his personal life. I can’t judge his wife for wanting a divorce. Even when he was home he was never fully present. He was also an alcoholic, using bourbon in an effort to calm himself down. He had raging nightmares that would often wake his wife and he barely allowed himself time to sleep more than a few hours. He did remarry and had two more children, however; he states in his book “My work wasn’t my job, I explained. It was my purpose. My worth. My reason for choosing to exist on this earth . . . How could I stop being that person? It was who I was. . . .The only place I felt lost was at home”. Sadly I don’t think any wife or family could ever compete for a place in his life. When he finally caught the Golden State Killer he sold his house and moved his family to Colorado. This was supposed to be a new start. He couldn’t stay away and still assists law enforcement and victims’ families along with having a television series and a podcast. I am grateful to Mr. Holes for all of his devoted work in bringing some of the most horrible monsters to justice. MY FEELINGS ON THE READING EXPERIENCE: While I found the author’s journey interesting, I had a lot of problems with the actual writing in the book. There is a lot of repetition of how the victims were bound, tortured, raped, etc. I didn’t need it to be repeated ad nauseum. There were also constant intricate descriptions of every phone call, every break in the case, on and on and on to where I ended up skimming to finally get to the closing. I did find the incredible leaps and bounds that have been made using even old DNA to track down relatives, etc, anyone who might be a match to whatever DNA they had on the GSK, to be very interesting. It is remarkable how science has changed in just the last 20 years!! I LOVED the scientific parts of this book. I know that true crime fans will love this book, especially those who listen to his podcast. I may not be the right audience for this book, but I’m still glad that I read it. This was a buddy read with Jan and Marialyce, be sure to read their reviews! I received a copy of this memoir from the publisher through Edelweiss.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Lindsay - Traveling Sisters Book Reviews

    5 stars! It’s official — I am adding true-crime to my ‘favourite genres’ list! I loved this true-crime memoir! I was quite literally hanging on every word, feeling both frightened and fascinated as I turned each page. Paul Holes spent the majority of his highly successful career as a cold case criminalist investigator. He started working in police forensics and lab analysis, but always found himself drawn to investigating the high profile cold cases that sat gathering dust on the shelves. Once Paul 5 stars! It’s official — I am adding true-crime to my ‘favourite genres’ list! I loved this true-crime memoir! I was quite literally hanging on every word, feeling both frightened and fascinated as I turned each page. Paul Holes spent the majority of his highly successful career as a cold case criminalist investigator. He started working in police forensics and lab analysis, but always found himself drawn to investigating the high profile cold cases that sat gathering dust on the shelves. Once Paul felt the itch to open a cold case, it haunted him until he was able to make some sort of headway on the case in the search of finding answers. He had the drive and determination to continue working cold cases long after colleagues and superiors had moved on to more pressing matters. He motivated himself to keep pushing forward on cold cases by focusing on getting answers for the families who were lost in the grief of having no answers for the crimes against their loved ones. One of the things I found most memorable while reading this book was the negative impact that Paul Holes job had on his personal life. His extreme dedication and obsession with the cold cases surpassed his dedication to his family. He simply couldn’t “turn off” his work mind. His thoughts constantly spun with the details of his cases, negatively impacting his marriages and fatherhood as his mind would constantly be elsewhere when he was at home. It’s an upsetting fact, but it is a true testament to how seriously he took his job and provides some insight as to why he was so successful. I recently finished, I’ll Be Gone In The Dark, the true crime book about the Golden State Killer. Reading these two books close together really enhanced the impact they both had as they strongly compliment each other. Overall, this is one of the best memoir and true-crime reading experiences I’ve had. I highly recommend getting your hands on a copy. Thank you to Celadon Books for the review copy!

  8. 5 out of 5

    Lori

    What makes this book five-star special is that Paul Holes's memoir is honest, personal, detailed about crime scenes and victims and killers but never lurid, exploitive or insensitive to the victims, unlike some others I've read. Unmasked is the true and honest story of the man who among other accomplishments helped catch the Golden State Killer, one of the most cruel and cunning serial offenders whose crimes Holes discovered on his first day of work in an old cabinet full of cold cases. It's abo What makes this book five-star special is that Paul Holes's memoir is honest, personal, detailed about crime scenes and victims and killers but never lurid, exploitive or insensitive to the victims, unlike some others I've read. Unmasked is the true and honest story of the man who among other accomplishments helped catch the Golden State Killer, one of the most cruel and cunning serial offenders whose crimes Holes discovered on his first day of work in an old cabinet full of cold cases. It's about the crimes he worked on the clock and the different aspects of each job he held as he was consistently promoted, and also the cold cases that from day one became his personal obsession. They haunted him, still do. Although he's retired he still works cold cases. Entwined throughout the memoir is the toll his obsession has taken on his personal life. I've read true-crime books in which other famous figures present themselves almost as god figures or at the least don't admit to shortcomings or discuss the most intimate details of their lives. It's understandable those who deal with the worst crimes and killers wall off their work to preserve their life outside the job, as some in other professions do. Paul Holes has never been able to do that. It's all personal to him, never leaves him even in his sleep. He's a hero, exceptionally dedicated, who has paid a price for a career of working active cases, sometimes in twelve- or sixteen-hour days, and working cold cases on his own dime in his free time. In here we read about the impact the work has had on his home life: wives, kids, even sexual problems and the reason why he's had them, which is chilling. He's struggled with alcoholism. Panic attacks from childhood have stayed with him, triggered by aspects of cases. Throughout he demonstrates empathy for and understanding of how those who love(d) him best have been affected and hurt by his obsession. It's written in a straightforward manner without excuses or self-flagellation. I appreciate this openness combined with the fascinating cases and detailed information about how he's worked crime scenes throughout his career and within that, the role different criminal specialists play. Embedded in the narrative is how they work in concert and separately, and the reader is introduced to some of Holes's memorable colleagues. I was curious why Lacey and Connor Peterson are mentioned, wondering if it was hype. Not at all. He was present at the autopsies of Lacey's torso and of Connor, and this ties into something else impactful I won't spoil. Most of the cases I'd never heard of, including one that he characterizes as perhaps the oddest case he's worked. This chapter vividly presents aspects of his work start-to-end, from the time he entered the house alone as first responder smelling the reek of the decaying corpse, his preliminary examination of the body and the scene and his bizarre findings, then the legwork, the twists and turns as he worked out the how and why. Nothing is gratuitous. Throughout the book are chapters on Holes's involvement in the Golden State Killer case, the case that he never gave up trying to solve, that made him famous, that didn't fit the standard profile of serial rapists or serial killers. Holes worked the case on his last day before retiring. Shortly after, GSK was arrested. There's enough about it in Unmasked so that someone unfamiliar with the horrifying details will understand but not enough to overwhelm. There's a lot of other information out there on this extremely sadistic rapist/killer. What's in Unmasked, up until the monster was caught, is there because it relates to work Holes did on the case. His co-author is a Pulitzer Prize-winning former features writer for the NY Times. The quality of the writing and organization of the book are excellent. I went in with high expectations and Paul Holes's riveting memoir surpassed them. Unmasked is now among my all-time favorite true-crime books. Thank you to Celadon Books for the print ARC

  9. 4 out of 5

    Jeffrey Keeten

    ”People always ask how I am able to detach from the horrors of my work. Part of it is an innate capacity to compartmentalize, to put my thoughts in mental boxes and only access what I need, when I need it. The rest is experience and exposure, and I’ve had plenty of both. The macabre becomes familiar enough that I can dissociate from even the grisliest details of the job. I file the gore in my brain under science. I suppose anyone can become desensitized to anything if they see enough of it, even ”People always ask how I am able to detach from the horrors of my work. Part of it is an innate capacity to compartmentalize, to put my thoughts in mental boxes and only access what I need, when I need it. The rest is experience and exposure, and I’ve had plenty of both. The macabre becomes familiar enough that I can dissociate from even the grisliest details of the job. I file the gore in my brain under science. I suppose anyone can become desensitized to anything if they see enough of it, even dead bodies, and I’ve been looking at them since college when I spent hours studying death scenes in pathology books.” Paul Holes, a California forensic investigator, has spent almost his entire adult life investigating cold cases. He devoted twenty plus years chasing after the Golden State Killer, starting when the killer was still known as the Original Night Stalker and East Area Rapist. The grand finale of his career was the apprehension of this evil monster. Hunting these killers cost him everything. Marriages, his relationship with his kids, friendships, and the ability to embrace a normal life. Was it worth it? I guess the bigger question is, would Paul Holes have ever been fulfilled doing anything else? As I read this book, I kept thinking, why do we give serial killers such lurid, dramatic names, starting with Jack the Ripper? In more modern times, we have The Night Stalker, The Butcher Baker, The Zodiac Killer, Son of Sam, The Green River Killer, The Killer Clown, Hannibal the Cannibal, Golden State Killer, and my own backyard psychopath BTK Killer. If it bleeds, it leads, and giving a serial killer a flashy name adds color to the terror of those who read about his crimes. I mean, we have to call the killer something because we don’t know who he is. One notorious killer was called The Lady Killer until he was caught, and now we all know him as Ted Bundy. My thought is, why don’t we call them something less glorifying or horrifying? Would Hannibal the Cannibal be as thrilled about his news coverage if he were called the Chicken Shit Killer? Would Dennis Radar feel as proud of the terror he inspired if he had been called the Limp Dick Killer? Law enforcement, and I’m sure Paul Holes felt the same way, often roll their eyes at the names the Press dub the killers they are hunting. Holes experienced a lot of resistance from his bosses about working cold cases. He’d often have to surreptitiously work on them on his own time or steal time from overseeing the forensic lab, his real job, to search for new leads. Police departments want clearance rates on hot cases. They don’t want limited forensic time spent analyzing data from a case that went cold a decade ago. If I had any doubts he was doing the right thing, there was a convincing conversation he had with one of the victims of the Golden State Killer who had been fortunate enough to survive. She lived in abject fear that at some point the killer was going to come for her again, even more than a decade later. Victimization never goes cold. The thought of a killer calmly going about his life, sitting down to dinner, watching football on TV, and mowing the lawn is just about enough to tilt even a hardened investigator like Paul Holes over the edge. Serial killers don't deserve a normal life or any peace of mind. Paul was good friends with Michelle McNamara, and they shared information back and forth about the Golden State Killer. This was truly the situation of one obsessive finding another obsessive, and what a relief it was for Holes to finally find a kindred spirit as determined as himself to find the killer. Unfortunately, McNamara passed away shortly before her explosive book, I’ll Be Gone in the Dark, was released. It’s one of those tragic ironies of life that she didn’t live long enough to see the Golden State Killer apprehended. If you enjoyed John Douglas’s book Mindhunter,* you will certainly relish this even more intimate look at the mental and physical toll experienced by investigators who choose to chase killers. You can’t catch them unless you enter into their dark and twisted existence, and there is no way to do that without carrying some of their evil away with you. Holes watered down his thoughts with bourbon, but even that grand elixir can only do so much. *I’m still holding onto a slender thread of hope that the Netflix series Mindhunter, based on the Douglas book, will eventually bring us season three. The actors were released from their contracts because of the busy workload of David Fincher, so officially it is not canceled, just on indefinite hold. Meanwhile, you can read Paul Holes book and hope that a series will eventually materialize based on his life. I want to thank Celadon Books for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review. @CeladonBooks #UnmaskedBook #CeladonReads If you wish to see more of my most recent book and movie reviews, visit http://www.jeffreykeeten.com I also have a Facebook blogger page at:https://www.facebook.com/JeffreyKeeten and an Instagram account https://www.instagram.com/jeffreykeeten/

  10. 5 out of 5

    Melissa (Extremely Behind)

    This is an incredibly fascinating memoir by Paul Holes, detailing his career as a criminologist and his obsession with finding justice for those victims whose cases have gone cold. He is most famous for his work with the East Area Rapist (Golden State Killer) case. Although I found the book decently fast paced and intriguing, I had a couple of issues that prevented me from rating it higher. One is personal--I both read and watched the TV series for I'll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman's Obsessive This is an incredibly fascinating memoir by Paul Holes, detailing his career as a criminologist and his obsession with finding justice for those victims whose cases have gone cold. He is most famous for his work with the East Area Rapist (Golden State Killer) case. Although I found the book decently fast paced and intriguing, I had a couple of issues that prevented me from rating it higher. One is personal--I both read and watched the TV series for I'll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman's Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer, so I was very, very familiar with the Golden State Killer case, how everything transpired over the years, and how the culprit was eventually caught and arrested. So much of this book felt like a re-hashing of that account, albeit from a different perspective, although Holes and Macnamara did collaborate so there is some overlap. The parts about how exactly the DNA sequencing took place was incredibly detailed and made me glaze over a bit. Also, I know that life is messy and there are many cases out there that just aren't ever solved. Yet I was left wanting more from the cases that Holes worked on that were solved. Instead we get more of a personal account of the tolls his job and obsession with finding solutions took on his marriages and relationships. I admire his dedication to learning and to finding justice, but it's a bit depressing when we learn of the cost of that dedication. Overall though, this is a gripping book and if you aren't as familiar with the ins and outs of the Golden State Killer case, you will be all the more captivated by the book and how that case was solved. Totally a worthwhile read, I am always enthralled with true crime and those who do the work to get those cases solved. I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book, all opinions are my own.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Kim ~ It’s All About the Thrill

    Wow! This book was so good! I must admit I have never read true crime...I know right?! I almost feel guilty saying I LOVED it...because the cases are alwful and heinous...but they were so fascinating that I could not put this down! This was a book that I entered into with caution as I was not sure what to expect...I thought I would just read one chapter...and suddenly I am well into the book...and way past my bedtime. For those of you that don't know..Paul Holes has had an amazing career. He has m Wow! This book was so good! I must admit I have never read true crime...I know right?! I almost feel guilty saying I LOVED it...because the cases are alwful and heinous...but they were so fascinating that I could not put this down! This was a book that I entered into with caution as I was not sure what to expect...I thought I would just read one chapter...and suddenly I am well into the book...and way past my bedtime. For those of you that don't know..Paul Holes has had an amazing career. He has managed to crack the toughest cold cases around. He has worked on cases that we have all heard of...The Golden State Killer...Jaycee Dugar...Laci Peterson...just to name a few. What I didn't expect was for Paul Holes to give us a look at his personal life...how his career and his obsession for the truth has taken a toll. I am so thankful for people like him that try to bring closure to the families. I can't recommend this enough! Thank you Celadon Books for sending me this gifted copy. Also thank you to Paul Holes for sharing his story with us!

  12. 5 out of 5

    Marialyce (absltmom, yaya)

    Obsession is considered a word that has many bad connotations, and yet many people carry out behavior that is obsessive. For Paul Holes finding cold case murderers is his obsession. It takes over everything in his life, his marriage, his children, his very soul. And yet, he can't stop searching, researching and giving families some closure and perhaps peace. It is through this obsession that Paul Holes exists and determines the fate of his life. He is haunted by the images he has seen and yet he Obsession is considered a word that has many bad connotations, and yet many people carry out behavior that is obsessive. For Paul Holes finding cold case murderers is his obsession. It takes over everything in his life, his marriage, his children, his very soul. And yet, he can't stop searching, researching and giving families some closure and perhaps peace. It is through this obsession that Paul Holes exists and determines the fate of his life. He is haunted by the images he has seen and yet he is able to place them into compartments in his mind and ever endeavors to find the Golden Gate Killer, a vile man who proceeds from raping, terrorizing and tying up his victims to murder. Paul spent twenty years of his life searching for this predator. He became well known not only for finding GGK, but also for solving the case of Laci Petersen Jaycee Dugard, and the Pittsburgh killers. He has spent a lifetime chasing evil and because of his utter commitment has lost many of the delights of family and friends. However, Paul is a man on a mission to right the wrongs of men who take a sadistic, psychopathic road to destruction. Paul is often sought out for his expertise in this field and has become a person to go to when many are stumped by the rigors of a case. Using the more modern techniques of DNA, he is dogged in his pursuit leaving no stone unturned, no clue unnoticed. This is a terrifying book, one that some will find hard to read, but without the determination and the strength of Paul Holes, these killers would have lived free in a world they had taken from their victims. It certainly was not a pleasant life, but as Paul's obsession grew, he lost what is part of being happy, a home, a family, and perhaps pieces of his own life. This story is often gruesome, but then again, the manner in which lives were taken as they were, fills the reader with shock and horror. If not for Paul staying on target and getting the job done, the peace he gave the families was something they might never have had without him. The book moves at an incredible pace, not a moment do you feel bored or anxious for the book to end. It is an incredible tribute not only to Paul but also to the men and women of law enforcement who endeavored to keep us safe from the predators that walk among us. I know that Paul is courageous with a tenacity that few have experienced, and I am grateful to him and others that endanger themselves in order to ferret out the truth. Throughout my reading, I often wondered what about the victims who survived, the families confronted with the heinous way in which their loved ones perished? Would they ever be able to move ahead, putting one foot in front of another, feel happiness? My hope is that with Paul's work, these folks were able to grab at a slice of peace and contented that these monsters had been caught and will never see beyond the bars of prison. Definitely recommend this book to those who like an excellent nonfiction that will keep you wondering the why and how of human deviant psyche. The writing was tight, full of empathy, and kept me interested from page one to the end. This was a book read by Dorie, Jan, and I and we had our reactions to the catastrophe and harm, misery and suffering that was inflicted by these monsters. This book will be published on April 26, 2022. Don't miss it if you love true crime stories.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Denise

    If you only read one true crime memoir, make it this one. I listened to the audiobook narrated by Paul Holes himself, and it was powerful. It was rather like reading the diary of a renowned criminologist. By the time I finished, I felt like I knew Holes personally, which I don't remember experiencing from a memoir before. I have to admit that before reading this book and subsequently watching the HBO series, "I'll be Gone in the Dark," I knew little about EARONS/Golden State Killer. I vaguely re If you only read one true crime memoir, make it this one. I listened to the audiobook narrated by Paul Holes himself, and it was powerful. It was rather like reading the diary of a renowned criminologist. By the time I finished, I felt like I knew Holes personally, which I don't remember experiencing from a memoir before. I have to admit that before reading this book and subsequently watching the HBO series, "I'll be Gone in the Dark," I knew little about EARONS/Golden State Killer. I vaguely recalled that DNA profiling/genealogy markers had helped to catch him but that was the extent of it. The actual story is haunting and heartbreaking beyond words. In Unmasked, Holes covers not only the Golden State Killer, but also his involvement in the Laci/Conner Peterson murders, the Jaycee Dugard kidnapping, and the Joseph Cordova, Jr., serial predator case, which were all fascinating as well. I think what struck me the most though about this book is just how personal it is. Holes is wholly human and wholly vulnerable regarding the fact that his job and his need to catch killers has had a profound impact on his personal life, with his marriages, his children, etc. The impact and closure Holes has given to victims and their families by giving his life to solving cold cases is admirable, but it has come at great personal cost to him. There is much about DNA/SNPs, etc., but even though my eyes wanted to glaze over at times, I am fascinated with Ancestry.com and DNA matches, so I found it more educating than cumbersome. Fair warning that there are lots of triggers and detailed descriptions of the cases Holes has investigated, but for me, for all the darkness in this book, the light that shines brightly from Holes and others, like Michelle McNamara, was inspiring and uplifting in a way. All the stars.

  14. 5 out of 5

    ScrappyMags

    Holy … Never leaving the house again. Nope. Nope. Nope. ⏰ 𝐒𝐡𝐨𝐫𝐭𝐞𝐬𝐭 𝐒𝐮𝐦𝐦𝐚𝐫𝐲 𝐄𝐯𝐞𝐫: Paul Holes tells true tales of life as a criminologist in California on some of his most prolific cases - namely the Golden State Killer, but also Jaycee Dugar and Lacy Peterson. 💡𝐓𝐡𝐨𝐮𝐠𝐡𝐭𝐬: This taut, suspenseful what-the-whaaaaa book reads like fiction until you pause to remind yourself: THIS. IS. REAL. 100% REAL, and that’s why the heeby-jeeby factor runs high. 😳 And along with this smack-me-in-my-face reality come Holy … Never leaving the house again. Nope. Nope. Nope. ⏰ 𝐒𝐡𝐨𝐫𝐭𝐞𝐬𝐭 𝐒𝐮𝐦𝐦𝐚𝐫𝐲 𝐄𝐯𝐞𝐫: Paul Holes tells true tales of life as a criminologist in California on some of his most prolific cases - namely the Golden State Killer, but also Jaycee Dugar and Lacy Peterson. 💡𝐓𝐡𝐨𝐮𝐠𝐡𝐭𝐬: This taut, suspenseful what-the-whaaaaa book reads like fiction until you pause to remind yourself: THIS. IS. REAL. 100% REAL, and that’s why the heeby-jeeby factor runs high. 😳 And along with this smack-me-in-my-face reality comes crushing sympathy for the families and friends who lost loved ones. Holes reminds me a bit of Joe Kenda from the ID Channel in his encyclopedic knowledge of his cases and his dedicated, tenacious work ethic that we wish everyone in law enforcement held. What affected me immensely was that Holes personalizes these cases. To outsiders, these are “stories”: we seen them on tv, read fictionalized murders (and are intrigued by them) and Holes makes it clear - THIS IS REAL, and a certain amount of respect grows within the reader and the reality of the work and life of a relentless, driven criminologist who cares. 𝗔𝗹𝗹 𝗺𝘆 𝗿𝗲𝘃𝗶𝗲𝘄𝘀 𝗮𝘃𝗮𝗶𝗹𝗮𝗯𝗹𝗲 𝗮𝘁 𝗦𝗰𝗿𝗮𝗽𝗽𝘆𝗠𝗮𝗴𝘀.𝗰𝗼𝗺 𝗮𝗿𝗼𝘂𝗻𝗱 𝘁𝗶𝗺𝗲 𝗼𝗳 𝗽𝘂𝗯𝗹𝗶𝗰𝗮𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻. 📚𝐆𝐞𝐧𝐫𝐞: True Crime/Non-fiction 😍𝐑𝐞𝐜𝐨𝐦𝐦𝐞𝐧𝐝𝐞𝐝 𝐭𝐨: Mystery readers will appreciate how real this and how it reads like a novel and true crime fans will swoon. 🙅‍♀️ 𝐍𝐨𝐭 𝐫𝐞𝐜𝐨𝐦𝐦𝐞𝐧𝐝𝐞𝐝 𝐭𝐨: Heavy on grit and gore so avoid if that’s not your ‘thang. Thank you to the author, NetGalley and Celadon Books for my advanced copy in exchange for my always-honest review and for giving me mad respect for forensic & detective work.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Jon Nakapalau

    This book reads like a real life version of The Pledge by Friedrich Dürrenmatt. A raw and immersive look at what it takes to hunt those who hunt others. The price paid for compartmentalization (the only way to deal with the horror) between career and identity slowly starts to erode all other aspects of life - something that is often 'glossed' over in the police procedural TV shows and movies that so often frame our reference when it comes to how crimes are really solved. Paul Holes reminds us th This book reads like a real life version of The Pledge by Friedrich Dürrenmatt. A raw and immersive look at what it takes to hunt those who hunt others. The price paid for compartmentalization (the only way to deal with the horror) between career and identity slowly starts to erode all other aspects of life - something that is often 'glossed' over in the police procedural TV shows and movies that so often frame our reference when it comes to how crimes are really solved. Paul Holes reminds us that there is also a type of 'metaphysical violence' that occurs when you 'gaze long enough into an abyss' - and you have to face what is reflected back. Highest recommendation.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Book Clubbed

    Paul Holes as a human being? 5 stars. He's a dogged, smart, empathetic investigator straight out of central casting. He's tight-lipped and and obsessed with his job, but also a complex fellow, as his revelations about panic attacks and inability to open up to loved ones illustrate. Holes has a naturally compelling storyline, rising from forensic lab grunt when the field was still in its infancy to seasoned investigator who was instrumental to some of the biggest cases of this century. It's fasci Paul Holes as a human being? 5 stars. He's a dogged, smart, empathetic investigator straight out of central casting. He's tight-lipped and and obsessed with his job, but also a complex fellow, as his revelations about panic attacks and inability to open up to loved ones illustrate. Holes has a naturally compelling storyline, rising from forensic lab grunt when the field was still in its infancy to seasoned investigator who was instrumental to some of the biggest cases of this century. It's fascinating to see the development of forensic and DNA evidence and how it can be used to retroactively solve cases. I didn't find his insights into criminal behavior particularly compelling. He speaks in simple aphorisms, and true crime fans won't find any spellbinding passages about what motivates these sick individuals.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Katie B

    Paul Holes is a retired investigator who helped solve the Golden State Killer case. In his memoir he talks about his twenty-year-long hunt for the serial rapist and killer, which includes his collaborations with the late Michelle McNamara, author of I'll Be Gone in the Dark. Paul also discusses some famous cases he had a connection to such as Laci Peterson and Jaycee Dugard as well as other cold cases he worked on throughout the years. The obsession of wanting to bring justice for the victims an Paul Holes is a retired investigator who helped solve the Golden State Killer case. In his memoir he talks about his twenty-year-long hunt for the serial rapist and killer, which includes his collaborations with the late Michelle McNamara, author of I'll Be Gone in the Dark. Paul also discusses some famous cases he had a connection to such as Laci Peterson and Jaycee Dugard as well as other cold cases he worked on throughout the years. The obsession of wanting to bring justice for the victims and their families unfortunately took a toll on his personal life. This book was a fascinating read as Paul recounts his career and his determination to solve cold cases. It was interesting to learn he has anxiety issues dating back to before he was even in law enforcement. To be able to perform his job well under such stress is really remarkable and a credit to him. He is very open and honest that due to his job it was difficult to be a great father and husband but he takes ownership of his faults rather than play the blame game. Highly recommend checking this one out particularly if you are a fan of the true crime genre and/or are interested in learning more about the Golden State Killer case. Thank you to Celadon Books for providing me with an advance copy! All thoughts expressed are my honest opinion.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Sandra Hoover

    If I ever harbored any delusions that monsters aren't real, reading Unmasked shattered them, opening my eyes to the fact that monsters are out there - watching, stalking their next victim, preparing to strike quick as a cobra before fleeing, leaving behind a trail of tears and fear. What do monsters look like? Like you and me and the guy in your neighborhood grocery store, a coach playing ball with kids, a co-worker sharing a cup of coffee, a member of your church. Monsters wear many ordinary di If I ever harbored any delusions that monsters aren't real, reading Unmasked shattered them, opening my eyes to the fact that monsters are out there - watching, stalking their next victim, preparing to strike quick as a cobra before fleeing, leaving behind a trail of tears and fear. What do monsters look like? Like you and me and the guy in your neighborhood grocery store, a coach playing ball with kids, a co-worker sharing a cup of coffee, a member of your church. Monsters wear many ordinary disguises while destroying lives, leaving victims and families scarred for life. Unmasked: My Life Solving America's Cold Cases is the career memoir of a man, a master criminologist, who's made it his life's mission to solve cold cases by unmasking the monsters that have eluded authorities for years. And he does so by following the scientific evidence piece by piece. It's the career story of Paul Holes - his early years working in a lab when he first discovered a cabinet of cold case files, including the Golden State Killer's file, and realized what he wanted to do - what he had to do - with his life, continuing through the middle years as he moved up the professional ranks honing his skills as a forensic scientist and pursuing cold cases, to the later years as he came to understand that his compulsive obsession for hunting monsters and solving cold cases was what he was born to do . . . no matter the cost to his personal life and well-being. Holes, an admitted introvert, opens the door to his inner soul, and allows readers the opportunity to ride along as he relives some of his highest profile cases. He speaks candidly of his panic attacks and nightmares of mutilated bodies, his deteriorating personal life, his ever burning need to solve cold cases and bring closure to victims and families. Unmasked opens with Holes packing up his office, preparing for the end of his storied professional career. His thoughts turn to the one monster that has eluded him for over twenty years, the one who first lit a burning desire in his gut for working cold cases - the arrogant, notorious EAR Killer aka the Original Night Stalker aka the Golden Gate Killer. How can he retire without apprehending the most terrifying, illusive serial killer of the twenty-first century? In order for readers to understand his obsession with this particular criminal, Holes' memoir follows a chronological path through his storied career as a natural born criminal profiler solving both the famous and little known cold cases. From start to finish, he grips readers' hands and transports them behind the scenes of real investigations, demonstrating firsthand the manner in which forensic science is used to unmask criminals which I find fascinating. Throughout his career, he repeatedly returns to the GSK case applying the newest technology to the evidence, hoping for a breakthrough. This reader became so engrossed while reading Unmasked that I forgot that it's a memoir . . . that it's a true story. I was sucked into the story as surely as if I was reading a favorite suspense thriller. I repeatedly told myself, "This is real. This is r.e.a.l." I was consumed by the cases and while my heart hurt for the personal toll it took on Holes, I kept thanking God for men like him who aren't afraid to follow the science and track down the monsters. Unmasked is a stunning, brutally honest memoir about a complex, highly gifted forensic scientist who sacrificed his own personal life, even his marriage and fatherhood, in his relentless pursuit of monsters. I highly recommend Unmasked to fans of Memoirs, True Crime, and Suspense Thrillers. This book entertains like fiction because it's brilliantly delivered in an all engrossing format and pace that makes it impossible to put down and because it's still so hard to comprehend the depravity of some sick humans. While I know he would not agree or want to hear it, Paul Holes is my Super Hero. I highly recommend his memoir to everyone. *Many thanks to Celadon Books for sending me an arc of a book I had no idea I wanted...needed...to read! **Review published in Mystery & Suspense Magazine ***Reviewed at Cross My Heart Reviews

  19. 4 out of 5

    Mallory

    I wasn’t totally sure what to expect but I really enjoyed this true crime memoir. The author writes about his career and his fascination with cold cases. I found him to be a very interesting person and one I would like to hear more stories from. I liked that I had heard of a good number of the cases and that I hadn’t heard of some and all of them were very interesting. I also liked to hear about the evolution that DNA technology has taken and how it has helped us to be better investigators into I wasn’t totally sure what to expect but I really enjoyed this true crime memoir. The author writes about his career and his fascination with cold cases. I found him to be a very interesting person and one I would like to hear more stories from. I liked that I had heard of a good number of the cases and that I hadn’t heard of some and all of them were very interesting. I also liked to hear about the evolution that DNA technology has taken and how it has helped us to be better investigators into crime. Paul Holes spends a lot of the book focused on the cold case he spent the most years on the Golden State Killer. I found his process to be very interesting, but I also liked that he included the toll his work took on himself, his marriages, and his relationships with his children. We need people passionate about finding the truth and keeping community safe, but we also need to help them care for themselves. I would definitely read another book by Paul Holes.

  20. 5 out of 5

    "Avonna

    Check out all my reviews at: https://www.avonnalovesgenres.com UNMASKED: My Life Solving America’s Cold Cases by Paul Holes is a candid look into the professional and personal life of a man who chases monsters. This book is part true crime, part memoir and wholly fascinating for a person interested in true crime like me. Paul Holes was fascinated with the TV show, Quincy growing up and he aspired to be just like the character. He went to college and received a degree in biochemistry and was hired Check out all my reviews at: https://www.avonnalovesgenres.com UNMASKED: My Life Solving America’s Cold Cases by Paul Holes is a candid look into the professional and personal life of a man who chases monsters. This book is part true crime, part memoir and wholly fascinating for a person interested in true crime like me. Paul Holes was fascinated with the TV show, Quincy growing up and he aspired to be just like the character. He went to college and received a degree in biochemistry and was hired initially in a crime lab to process biological evidence samples, but he continually studied and read books in other areas of forensic study and investigation. He wanted to be in the field and not just in a lab. He was inquisitive and pushy enough to meet and befriend investigators who helped him advance with both sides of criminal investigations and cold cases, forensic and investigative. He discovered he was especially intrigued with cold cases and giving the victims and their families resolution. The cold case file on the East Area Rapist (EAR) was the case that led to his obsession with these types of cases and ultimately, even with all his other successes, it was the one that led to the trail and ultimate unmasking of the Golden State Killer (GSK). Even though he has retired, he continues to investigate cold cases across the country and co-hosts a podcast with Billy Jensen called The Murder Squad. I found the cases in this book engrossing, and I was also impressed with Mr. Hole’s candid accounts of his personal problems. I find the people willing to chase the most depraved killers and rapists as interesting as the crimes and criminals themselves. Mr. Hole’s admits to personal problems his professional obsession has caused and yet he continues. He has an empathy for victims and their families that continually pulls him into that next case. I highly recommend this true crime/memoir!

  21. 4 out of 5

    Miya (in a puddle of pain)

    True crime mashed memoir. Yes yes yes! So good! Reminds me of John Douglas and Mark Olshaker books which I loved. I was especially interested because the cases were in California. I felt a lot of emotions for him...empathy and sadness. Although he did a great job solving crimes, it seems it was and still is heavy for him. All around a good read. I really liked it.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Sadie Hartmann

    This book is so freaking good. It's very compelling. Holes is a true crime superhero; a gift. But with a mind like his and a passion for solving cold cases-there is a great cost. Holes is extremely transparent about his personal life. You don't dive headlong into a case and spend countless hours locked in your office without some kind of damage to the relationships around you-he spends whole chapters detailing the way his "work/life balance" was basically non-existent. But thank goodness for this This book is so freaking good. It's very compelling. Holes is a true crime superhero; a gift. But with a mind like his and a passion for solving cold cases-there is a great cost. Holes is extremely transparent about his personal life. You don't dive headlong into a case and spend countless hours locked in your office without some kind of damage to the relationships around you-he spends whole chapters detailing the way his "work/life balance" was basically non-existent. But thank goodness for this man. His dedication to solving cold cases is unmatched. Anyone who has spent any time listening to true crime podcasts or reading about cases knows that sometimes, cases go unsolved because of lazy police work or piss-poor investigative resources; clerical errors, missing evidence, focusing on the wrong suspect-all kinds of things prevent justice from being served. Paul Holes rescues these cases. As a California girl, born and raised in a small town nestled in the Sierra foothills, I knew about all the cases Holes mentions in this book. The kidnapping of Polly Klaas was especially memorable. And the case Holes spent most of his career on, EAR (East Area Rapist/Golden State Killer) was right in my backyard. Anyhoodles, I highly recommend this book. He goes into graphic details about cases-so triggers for rape, murder, and crime scenes-the usual. But it's comforting to know there are people out there like Paul Holes who are this committed to justice. Highly recommend.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Erin

    Giveaway Win! After reading this I am 200% sure of one thing....... I will never marry a cop. Paul Holes is very well known in the True Crime community. If I saw him walking down the street, I would run up to him and ask him for his autograph. Paul Holes spent nearly 25 years searching for the brutal California serial killer The Golden State Killer. Unmasked is an insiders look at the life of a cold case investigator and the effect that it has on your personal life. Paul Holes is a great law enfor Giveaway Win! After reading this I am 200% sure of one thing....... I will never marry a cop. Paul Holes is very well known in the True Crime community. If I saw him walking down the street, I would run up to him and ask him for his autograph. Paul Holes spent nearly 25 years searching for the brutal California serial killer The Golden State Killer. Unmasked is an insiders look at the life of a cold case investigator and the effect that it has on your personal life. Paul Holes is a great law enforcement professional but he's not the best husband or father. I'm of the belief that marriage and children aren't for everyone. It's not for me because I know I'd be a horrible wife and mother. That doesn't make me a bad person and my belief that Paul Holes shouldn't have ever got married(either time) or have had kids doesn't make him bad. Paul Holes was put on this earth to solve crimes. He's obsessed with finding his man(or woman/person) it consumes him and nothing but that case exists for him. That's a great way to solve cases but that's hell on wives and children. Unmasked is a True Crime enthusiasts dream. He introduced me to some cases I had never heard of. I need him to write a couple more books because this book just scratched the surface of his career. I Highly Recommend This Book!

  24. 5 out of 5

    CYIReadBooks (Claire)

    I’ve always held a fascination for true crime novels — from Helter Skelter to I’ll Be Gone in the Dark. So when I received Unmasked, I was so excited to start reading this novel, especially since I read Michelle McNamara’s novel about the Golden State Killer. Unmasked is a true crime novel that delves into the nitty gritty of cold case investigations. Of particular focus is investigator and author, Paul Holes’ decades long search for the Golden State Killer. In this novel, authors Holes and Robin I’ve always held a fascination for true crime novels — from Helter Skelter to I’ll Be Gone in the Dark. So when I received Unmasked, I was so excited to start reading this novel, especially since I read Michelle McNamara’s novel about the Golden State Killer. Unmasked is a true crime novel that delves into the nitty gritty of cold case investigations. Of particular focus is investigator and author, Paul Holes’ decades long search for the Golden State Killer. In this novel, authors Holes and Robin Gaby Fisher outline Holes’ humble beginnings as a forensic toxicologist (drug analyst) and his rise to a CSI (crime scene investigator) and later, the chief of forensics. But the novel is more than just his career and his quest to solve cold cases. It is also about Holes’ struggles with his personal demons and how his career and obsession with cold cases wreaked havoc in his personal relationships. Unmasked isn’t a read for everyone since it reveals some gory details about the crime scenes from actual case files. Which is one of the primary reasons why I enjoyed this novel so much. But it isn’t all dark and grim material since the authors also include some light humor with the introduction of a two man homicide squad from the Pittsburgh Police Department. That introduction tempered the otherwise grim and heinous crime narrative. While Unmasked may not be a novel for everyone, it will certainly be a must read for true crime fans who don’t mind the graphic details of crime scene investigations. Five outstanding stars. I received a physical ARC from Celadon Books. The review herein is completely my own and contains my honest thoughts and opinions.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Erin Clemence

    Cold Case Investigator Paul Holes spent his entire career chasing the “ones that got away”, relentlessly searching for criminals the police force did not have the time or resources to seek and find. Some of the cases he worked on are infamous- such as Jaycee Duggard and Laci Petersen- and some are not as well-known, but each and every case was special to Holes and he made it his mission to find the perpetrator, often at the cost of his personal relationships. His biggest obsession, of course, w Cold Case Investigator Paul Holes spent his entire career chasing the “ones that got away”, relentlessly searching for criminals the police force did not have the time or resources to seek and find. Some of the cases he worked on are infamous- such as Jaycee Duggard and Laci Petersen- and some are not as well-known, but each and every case was special to Holes and he made it his mission to find the perpetrator, often at the cost of his personal relationships. His biggest obsession, of course, was the Golden State Killer, who Holes (and his many contributors and co-workers, including Michelle McNamara) finally caught after twenty-four years. Holes starts his memoir at the end, as he faces retirement and the end of his career that has become his obsession. His quest to seek and arrest the worst of the worst cost him positive relationships with his children, a marriage (almost two of them), and many, many sleepless nights plagued by panic attacks. What is so impressive about Holes is his absolute dedication to what he does (did), and his utter obsession with bringing killers and rapists to justice. Holes pulls no punches and is very honest and open in his writing, sparing the reader no grisly detail in both his personal life and his professional cases. Of course, Holes talks about his infamous cases, like Petersen, but he also talks about some of the cases that have plagued him for years, some of them ones that received minimal or no news coverage. The majority of his story though, focuses on the Golden State Killer, and Holes’ tunnel vision, centred on finding Joseph D’Angelo. I loved the backstory of the police investigations (I always do), and the individual anecdotes between officers and upfront depiction of political red tape hindrances make “Unmasked” generalizable and relatable to every reader. Holes made me laugh, definitely made me cringe(more than once), and at every turn he had me feeling so much sympathy for the victims and their families, forced to go years without justice. The last few sections of “Unmasked” speak directly to when Holes was working with the late Michelle McNamara (whose book I also just finished earlier this year), and it was touching and poignant how he spoke about the late author (I want to go back and re-read her story now that I have Paul’s side of things!). “Unmasked” is a true crime memoir, a “behind the scenes” look at some of the deepest and darkest scourges of human society and an engaging and interesting read. Some of the scientific investigation details related to DNA can get wordy, and confusing, but I adored the personal touches Holes included. This one is a must-read for true crime fans, serial killer fans (especially Golden State Killer obsessives) and anyone who is looking for a memoir about retribution, vengeance, and obsession (in more ways than one).

  26. 4 out of 5

    Alisonbookreviewer

    5 stars A very informative book about the life of one cold case detective. All the cases are quite disturbing to say the least. I couldn't imagine his life and the things he had to witness from the stories he's told in this book. I commend him on his work. If it wasn't for people like him alot of cases would go unsolved. Reading discretion advised. A very interesting book. 5 stars A very informative book about the life of one cold case detective. All the cases are quite disturbing to say the least. I couldn't imagine his life and the things he had to witness from the stories he's told in this book. I commend him on his work. If it wasn't for people like him alot of cases would go unsolved. Reading discretion advised. A very interesting book.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Aya

    True crime lovers would enjoy this book, the prose of the book was great unlike some true crime books which were dry and too factual. This memoir of Paul Holes took us through the years as he investigated Golden State Killer and other cold cases. Some people may think that it was more important to solve the active crimes but I felt that we all need closure. Paul Holes gave us a glimpse of his private life and explained how his work affected it. It would never be easy for a professional be successf True crime lovers would enjoy this book, the prose of the book was great unlike some true crime books which were dry and too factual. This memoir of Paul Holes took us through the years as he investigated Golden State Killer and other cold cases. Some people may think that it was more important to solve the active crimes but I felt that we all need closure. Paul Holes gave us a glimpse of his private life and explained how his work affected it. It would never be easy for a professional be successful in both his work and private life. The crimes were chilling and gruesome. It was horrible to think that people could be responsible for those crimes. It was important to compartmentalise so that they wouldn't affect a person's mental health. This was informative and captivating, certain parts were repetitive as Paul Holes referred to the crimes a number of times.

  28. 4 out of 5

    BAM the enigma

    This was the most self possessed detective I have ever read about. That is all I can write right now because I'm vomiting in my trash can over his woe is me I'm perfect but no one will listen to me and my brilliance plus every woman divorces my angst ass This was the most self possessed detective I have ever read about. That is all I can write right now because I'm vomiting in my trash can over his woe is me I'm perfect but no one will listen to me and my brilliance plus every woman divorces my angst ass

  29. 4 out of 5

    Dee

    Loved it! The man is tenacious - looking for GSK for so many years, wow. Glad he got him in the end & still sorry M. McNamara never knew. I would have made this 5 stars, but I got a bit tired of the marital & family issues - I do understand the point, but just not what I wanted to read about.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Summer

    To the world of true crime, Paul Holes is a rockstar. As a longtime fan of true crime I first became familiar with Holes in 2018 upon the release of Michelle McNamara’s book I’ll be gone in The Dark. Paul devoted his life as a cold case investigator for the Contra Costa County, California. In 2018 after Paul aided in the arrest of the 40 year old cold case of James DeAngelo aka The Golden State killer, he became a household name. Unmasked is Paul’s memoir reflecting on his time spent solving Ame To the world of true crime, Paul Holes is a rockstar. As a longtime fan of true crime I first became familiar with Holes in 2018 upon the release of Michelle McNamara’s book I’ll be gone in The Dark. Paul devoted his life as a cold case investigator for the Contra Costa County, California. In 2018 after Paul aided in the arrest of the 40 year old cold case of James DeAngelo aka The Golden State killer, he became a household name. Unmasked is Paul’s memoir reflecting on his time spent solving America’s toughest cold cases. Paul talks about how he got started as a detective and how working these cases impacted his personal life. Paul takes readers on a behind the scenes look at forensics, and genealogy. And of course Paul reflects his time spent on the most famous cases he worked, including The Golden State Killer. I enjoyed so many things about this book but the amount of respect and dedication that Paul has for the victims and families is phenomenal. Never once did he come off as exploitive or insensitive to the victims or their families, you can tell that he had them in mind the entire time spent writing this. Paul obsessed over the fact that the victims families were left to deal with the horrible aftermath of murder all the while their killer had the freedom to live a normal life after he’d destroyed so many others. Told with raw honesty, it was interesting to get inside the mind of such a hero. True Crime fans will absolutely love this one! Not only do I highly recommend Unmasked for fans of true crime but I also recommend listening to his podcast, Jenson and Holes. Many thanks to Celadon Books for the gifted copy!

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