Book Review — Unmasked: My Life Solving America’s Cold Cases by Paul Holes with Robin Gaby Fisher

I received an Advanced Reader Copy (ARC) of this book from Netgalley and Celadon Books. This has not impacted my rating and this review is voluntary.

  • Genre: True Crime, Memoir
  • Published by: Celadon Books
  • Publish date: April 26, 2022
  • Number of pages: 288 pages
  • Support local! Buy the book on BookShop!

In 2018, Paul Holes retired as a cold case investigator after spending more than twenty-seven years working in Contra Costa County, in the San Francisco Bay Area. Paul specialized in cold case and serial predator crimes, lending his expertise to notable cases, including the murder of Laci Peterson and the kidnapping of Jaycee Dugard. Most prominently, Paul’s career culminated with his identification of the Golden State Killer, Joseph DeAngelo, the most notorious and cunning serial predator in U.S. history.

This memoir is a reflection of Paul Holes’ stunning career helping catch criminals and how his personal life was impacted by his dedication to crime-solving.

Rating: 5/5

Paul Holes is someone I learned about after reading Michelle McNamara’s book “I’ll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer”. Since then, I’ve learned more and more about the cases he’s helped solve and that list is extensive! This man is dedicated to his work and it’s easy to idolize someone like him. I found that this book humanizes him.

Holes gives an inside view of his mind. As expected, dark thoughts reside there from years of getting into the minds of killers in order to catch them and the horrible things he saw every day, but we also see his brilliance in making connections that his years of experience facilitate and just plain old gut/intuition bring. We also learn about his obsessive nature with getting caught up in a crime, his anxiety, and how these put a strain on his family relationships.

Unlike other “celebrity” memoirs (and by that, I mean memoirs written by non-writers or journalists) this was well-organized and well-written. This probably was aided by editing from Robin Gaby Fisher. I found this really paid off! Celebrity memoirs can be very hard to read despite an interesting premise because the writing is so bad. This book is not that.

I truly appreciated Holes’ candor and wow–what an incredible career to read about!

Have you read this book? What are your thoughts? I’d love to know!

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