Cover Image: Unmasked


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Member Reviews

As one of the most anticipated true crime releases of 2022, Paul Holes’ new true crime memoir, Unmasked, is an unflinching look inside the career of one of the most well-known figures in true crime and popular culture.

Holes’ memoir recounts some of the most famous and harrowing moments in his career alongside events in his personal life that shaped him as a man and as an investigator. The text emphasizes a conflation of the personal and the professional, focusing on the ways in which each element of Holes’ life influenced the other, and the complexities that surround each. The memoir covers Holes’ career from beginning to end, and the thread that runs through the entire narrative is the story of Holes’ own connection to the Golden State Killer case and the files that Holes became interested in early in his career.

Unmasked marks what seems to be the third and final essential installment in what I’ve come to think of as the Golden State Killer ‘trilogy,’ beginning with Michella McNamara’s unforgettable memoir I’ll be Gone in the Dark (2018), and Billy Jensen’s Chase Darkness With Me (2019). Holes’ work is an important addition to this body of writing from those who were directly involved with the case, and those who knew McNamara. Because Holes has recently gained public notoriety on podcasts like My Favourite Murder and with his own podcast hosted with Billy Jensen, The Murder Squad, it is no surprise that readers and true crime fans will want to hear from Holes, and it is my hope that they will be pleasantly surprised by what they find. Although he has become famous in recent years, Holes’ career is long and complex, and his narrative of his life is one of honesty and clarity.

Contradictory to the professional and analytical public persona that Holes presents online, Unmasked is unflinchingly honest. Holes brings his articulate and careful voice to some of the most harrowing and private moments of his life, allowing the reader to encounter Holes’ earnest reflections on his life, career, and the cases he has worked. After reading the memoir, the title takes on two different meanings: Paul Holes both unmasks killers and makes a sincere and successful effort to unmask himself for his readers. I did not anticipate such an emotionally honest memoir, and it was a pleasure to read such frank reflections. His chapters on the Golden State Killer are especially poignant, and his chapter on Michelle McNamara and the effect she had on his life are a fitting tribute to the woman who was so integral to solving the case and Holes’ grief for his dear friend.

Another fascinating aspect of the memoir, and one that often appears in former investigators’ narratives of their careers, is Holes’ narration of some of the most famous and most bizarre cases he was involved in. Holes worked cases that nearly every true crime reader or watcher knows, and his presence on the investigative team is surprising and insightful. In addition to the Golden State Killer case, Holes explores some of his most memorable cases throughout his career, including those that continue to haunt him.

With careful construction, Holes crafts a narrative out of the complex and varied moments of his life. The character of this memoir is emotional honesty and forthrightness, and it will give readers a new insight into the life and career of one of true crime’s most popular personas in popular culture.

Please add Unmasked to your Goodreads shelf and follow Paul Holes on Twitter.

Don’t forget to follow True Crime Index on Twitter and please visit our Goodreads for updates on what we’re reading! You can find Rachel on her personal @RachelMFriars or on Goodreads @Rachel Friars.

About the Writer:

Rachel M. Friars (she/her) is a PhD student in the Department of English Language and Literature at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario. She holds a BA and an MA in English Literature with a focus on neo-Victorianism and adaptations of Jane Eyre. Her current work centers on neo-Victorianism and nineteenth-century lesbian literature and history, with secondary research interests in life writing, historical fiction, true crime, popular culture, and the Gothic. Her academic writing has been published with Palgrave Macmillan and in The Journal of Neo-Victorian Studies. She is a reviewer for The Lesbrary, the co-creator of True Crime Index, and an Associate Editor and Social Media Coordinator for PopMeC Research Collective. Rachel is co-editor-in-chief of the international literary journal, The Lamp, and regularly publishes her own short fiction and poetry. Find her on Twitter and Goodreads.
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For those who are interested in true crime, Paul Holes is a name you should know. I first heard of him from Michelle McNamara's book (I'll be gone in the dark), so once I heard that Holes was releasing a book, I was very excited and couldn't wait to read it. 

Paul Holes was one of the lead investigators of the Golden State Killer case. But one thing this book does really well is that it also serves as a biography of Holes's career, ranging from the Jaycee Dugard Case and Laci Peterson. However, one of the most fastinating parts of this book is seeing how Holes's got started in his career leading up to his most famous case, the Golden State Killer. 

I like that Paul doesn't shy away from the dark parts of his story. One another side character in this book is his obsession, that ruined his first marriage and started to ruin his second. You see it as well with Michelle's story, but for those who haven't read the book I don't want to spoil that part of the story. But basically, you don't come out of this story easily, and Paul proves that. 

The biggest vindication is the ending, watching Paul's hard work come to fruition with the arrest of Joseph DeAngelo. You feel a sigh of relief, knowing that while it took a long time to capture the killer, and can finally feel a sense of piece that he was finally captured. I like how the book ending as well, with Paul finally looking inward but still assisting on cases. Never giving up fully who he is. 

I wanted to give the book 5 stars, but I wanted more information on Paul's relationship with his second wife. It is mentioned towards the end, but gets dropped a bit in the book since he was dealing with a lot of other cases. Would have loved to learn more about their relationship, especially since he was hinting at some trouble since he was very one track mind with his cases. I understand why, but would have liked to learn more about their relationship dynamic. Not a be all end all, but would have been nice to get the full picture. 

Thanks to Netgalley and Celadon Books for giving me an Advanced Readers Copy in exchange for a fair and honest review.
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Have you ever wondered what it's actually like working serial killer crime cases? Unmasked is written by the forensic detective, Paul Holes, and his life surveying the dark side of humankind. 

What an abhorrent yet desperately needed job these detectives work. Holes talks about his interest in crime from an early age, his ability to read people well and his work evolving into what he really wanted to do--cold cases!

If you read an enjoyed the book I'll Be Gone in the Dark, or have an interest in the solving of the Golden State Killer--THIS book is for you! Holes was on and off that case for 20 years! He helped solve it! 

In this book he shares multiple cold cases he investigates--and never solves! As a reader I really wanted to know the culprit....that was never found! I can't even imagine how it felt as an actual detective on the case or a family member of the deceased!

The book wasn't overly gory, which I appreciated, but it is all about the horrendous horrors that humans inflict on one another. Being in this line of work Holes explains how it has seeped into his personal life and affected those close to him. 

Thank you to NetGalley and Celadon Books for the advance e-copy in return for my review!
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My most anticipated book of April (possibly of 2022) did not disappoint! I’ve been a Paul Holes fan for a few years and have listened to all of his podcasts, listened to his Audible originals & watched all of his tv series. When I discovered he was writing a memoir, I knew I needed to read it to fill in some blanks about his career & personal life that he hinted at but hadn’t opened up about until this book. 
Paul has dedicated his career to finding justice for victims & their families but at a cost to his personal relationships. He talks about dealing with anxiety and holding back his feelings which seems awfully difficult with what his job entails. 
At a very young age, his interest into forensics was sparked by the 1970’s tv show Quincy, M.E. When I read that it brought me back to my childhood remembering how much I loved that show and how my parents thought I was too young to watch it. I guess maybe that’s part of the reason I’m drawn to reading true crime to this day.  
I thoroughly enjoyed every page! I highly recommend this book for all readers, listeners & documentary watchers of True Crime!
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Paul Holes has been on my radar ever since he was first mentioned on the My Favorite Murder podcast, and when Michelle McNamara's incredible book I'll Be Gone in the Dark came out. 

It was fascinating to travel Paul's career over the years. He's very open in this memoir to the point where it's like we're right there with him in his head.

He shares his experiences working on both wellknown and lesser known cases. Plus the transformation and progression of forensic sciences in regards to DNA evidence and genealogy.

While Paul's dedication to his work, to solving cold cases and to getting answers for the victims' families was unwavering and commendable, he sacrificed so much when it came to his own family & his relationships with them. Not to mention his mental, emotional & physical health.

After 24 years of hunting the Golden State Killer, the serial rapist and murderer is caught. And while this is obviously a celebratory achievement, it's also bittersweet. The victims and their loved ones still had to suffer and there's no getting back those who lost their lives.  

Paul Holes has an innate gift for the work that he does. When he says that it's his calling & his purpose, I can't disagree. 

I give Unmasked: My Life Solving America's Cold Cases by Paul Holes 4 stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐

If you're a fan of forensics, true crime, and/or memoirs, this is for you. 

Thank you Celadon Books & NetGalley for this ARC. Pub Date: April 26th 2022
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This is one of those books where I think I need to tell you where I sit before I tell you where I stand. First up…the genre. I’ve been a true crime fan for decades. (I blame A&E, I got hooked on true crime in the late 1990s/early 2000s.) Secondly – I’m a fan of Paul Holes. I really enjoy his podcast (The Murder Squad) and I’ve watched several shows on TV that he’s involved in. Also I should tell you that if you’re not into true crime, this is probably not the book for you.

I first stumbled across the name Paul Holes in Michelle McNamara’s book I’ll Be Gone in the Dark; Michelle meets and befriends Paul in her search for the Golden State Killer. I was really interested to pick up this book and learn more about Paul Holes’ career with the Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Office, his work hunting for the Golden State Killer, and his work/life balance. How do you witness these horrific scenes, hunt for the killer, and then put all that aside and come home to your family?

Unmasked is really interesting, but a tough read at times. Paul briefly touches on a lot of different cases throughout his career, spending the most time on his decades long passion to find the Golden State Killer. At times, I would have liked more information on some of the cases. Although I know that an in-depth look at some of these cases probably could be a whole book just by itself. We see them from Paul’s perspective, which at times can be pretty graphic and unflinching. Paul describes in the book his ability to compartmentalize his emotions and separate from the case, and I think his reflections in this memoir reflect that.

Paul gets very involved in his cases, and his obsession in finding justice for the victims takes a huge toll on his family. Throughout this memoir we see his lack of work/life balance, and his struggle to be there for his family while keeping his private promises of justice for the victims and their families.

This memoir is a great look into the life of a criminologist who is obsessed with finding justice. Paul is empathetic, dedicated, and detailed, and this book takes you through his lifelong journey to find answers and solve the toughest cases.
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Review done on my blog, Goodreads, Twitter. To be placed on Amazon 04/26

My rating: 4 Stars

My opinion: In the early 2000's, we had Detective Joe Kenda. In the mid 2000's, we have Paul Holes. This man's work is absolutely fascinating. I simply cannot get enough of Paul Holes and seek out anything he is appearing on, hosting or writing. 

If I was a newbie to Paul , this book would have been an EASY 10/5 Star read for me, but alas, I'm not. As a result, the better chunk of what this book contained, I have already read, listened to or watched in the various television shows, podcasts or other works by Paul. 

For example, if you subscribe to Audible, Paul has a number of podcasts on several of the cases written in this book free to subscribers. I have listened to each and every one of them and absorbed with much gusto. 

Like Joe Kenda's books, I really enjoyed learning more about the person Paul Holes is privately versus the crimes he was involved in solving. So, I truly believe that is what Paul Holes groupees will walk away with. In other words, there is something for every Paul Holes fan in this book.
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This has been on my radar and one of my most anticipated novels this year. Paul Holes is well known in the true crime world and I have followed what he has done especially with the GSK case for years. 

This book tells the story of Paul Holes a noted cold case investigator from California. With his love of investigating crimes and his background in laboratory/biochemistry work going into cold cases seemed to be the perfect fit for him. This book explores some of his most notable and lesser known cases along with insights into his life. Ranging from his start with the Contra Costa Sheriff’s lab to when he finally retired right on the heels of closing GSK. Although thought to have been cold and unsolvable Paul showed his tireless determination to bring this monster to justice. 

If you are anyone who loves true crime, learning about investigations, crime scenes, serial killer obsession, or all of the above this is a must read. Be aware that this book does not shy away from harsh details about cases of how scenes looked upon coming to them. 

I enjoyed the movement between chapters from his beginning and all along working GSK. I flew thru this book and could have kept reading and absorbing all of the information about crimes scene investigation in his head.
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Thank you to net galley, Paul Holes & celadon books for this free digital ARC in exchange for an honest review!

I live in Southern California. Paul Holes is a house hold name around here when it comes to cases here in the Golden state. From Jaycee Dugard to Rebecca Zahou to Laci Peterson to capturing the Golden State Killer. Paul Holes pull's no punches in this book. He tells you about his life and his career in such a personal manner. The cold cases he shares you can tell is deeply personal and some may still haunt him to this day. He has always been on the trail of the Golden State Killer for years, and he was not about to give up even as retirement is drawing near. 

This is truly an amazing book! If you ever wanted to know what a cold case investigator/ criminologist goes through, this is the book for you. I do think the title should have been, Unmasked: Crime Scenes, Cold Cases and My Hunt for the Golden State Killer which I think was one of the names tossed around. 

Again great book and this is a must read especially if you want to know how the Golden State Killer was captured.
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READ THIS BOOK. That's all I want to say about this book! Ha! 

Okay, seriously, this is a must read book for all true crime aficionados! In this part true crime part memoir, former cold case investigator of Contra Costa County, Paul Holes, shares his journey as a detective investigating many cold cases, including one of the most notable cases - The Golden State Killer. It was really interesting reading the investigation of this case from his point of view especially after reading 'I'll Be Gone In The Dark' by Michelle McNamara a couple of years earlier. They definitely complement each other! 

The cases mentioned in this book are not for the faint of heart. There are graphic details of the crimes and I find the case of Emmon Bodfish is one of the most bizarre cases I've heard. 

Paul also shares the personal aspect of his life in this book. He is passionate about his job especially, investigating cold cases. His determination and hard work in investigating cases is really admirable but at the same time it was heartbreaking too as it took a toll on his marriage and family life. I loved how honest and open he was when sharing this part of his life. 

Overall, this is a fantabulous book! I loved it and will re-read it at some point! 

Pub. Date: April 26th, 2022

***Thank you Celadon Books and NetGalley for this gifted ARC to read and review. All opinions expressed are my own.***
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This book is perfect for fans of I’ll Be Gone In The Dark!! Paul Holes knows his stuff. This memoir is honest, raw and detailed. Parts of it were a bit much for me, but that is also the nature of the crimes he solved. There are MULTIPLE CW/TW so definitely look those up before you pick it up if you’re worried about it! I recommend it if you are a true crime fan!! I wish there were more books like this!
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Thank you to NetGalley and Celadon for access to this e-ARC. This complimentary copy was provided to me in exchange for my honest review. This book will be coming out April 26.

This review will be contain a few personal confessions so brace yourselves! First confession - I absolutely am obsessed with what my roommate calls my "murder shows". I absolutely love losing myself in a well-made documentary. For those of you who share this obsession, I'd like to recommend Evil Lives Here and See No Evil both found on Investigation Discovery. The first time I ever saw our author, Paul Holes, was on a docuseries called Unmasking a Killer and let's just say his passion for solving cold cases along with his (second confession) ludicrously dashing good looks got me hooked! 

Paul Holes was a cold case investigator in California and worked on several large cases like Laci Peterson, Jaycee Dugard and the Golden State Killer. This book does deal a fair bit with the crimes he worked on/had a part in solving so if you have any kind of queasy stomach, you might want to look elsewhere. However, I didn't find the gore to be gratuitous but it is definitely present. 

I really loved the way this book moved, the personal side that Paul allowed the readers to see in how what he's been exposed to at work affects his life outside of it. In fact, I have a few of Robin Gaby Fisher (co-author)'s books on hold at the library now because it was just so extremely well done. 

Like I said, if true crime is your thing, I really think you're going to enjoy it. However, it is a very honest book so there are places it gets a bit graphic. For me though, it's a 5 star!
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This book was so much better than I expected. It read like a true crime and biography all in one. I loved the detail and finding out the reasoning behind Paul’s logic.
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Any true crime buff needs to read this. It's compelling and hard-core and gritty. I loved the tribute to Michelle McNamara (a name any one familiar with the capturing of the Golden State Killer should know). 

I liked how the author made it a point to say that his career is NOT glamorous -- it's not what is portrayed on fictional shows like NCIS. He went through divorce, marital problems, many sleepless nights, heartbreak, stress, etc. Many times he thought he was just a step away from catching a perpetrator, just to see his hopes dashed. 

This book is super interesting and I found it hard to put down, even when I found some scenes hard to read, due to graphic content. But I appreciated how it ended with hope.

Many thanks, Netgalley, for my e-arc!
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I thought (hoped) I would like this book more than I actually did... This book could be great for the right reader, I was not that person though.
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I’m a Paul Holes stan, so getting this arc made my day. I’m fascinated by him & how his mind works. This book was such an interesting read & I highly recommend it to any crime junkies out there!
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Book Review 📚 Unmasked: My Life Solving America’s Cold Cases by @paul.holes and published by @celadonbooks.

Unmasked is easily one of my favourite books of 2022 so far and is probably one of the best true crime accounts I’ve ever read. 

𝙄𝙣 𝙩𝙝𝙤𝙨𝙚 𝙢𝙤𝙢𝙚𝙣𝙩𝙨 𝙬𝙝𝙚𝙣 𝙧𝙚𝙖𝙨𝙤𝙣 𝙜𝙤𝙩 𝙖𝙬𝙖𝙮 𝙛𝙧𝙤𝙢 𝙢𝙚, 𝙨𝙬𝙚𝙖𝙩𝙞𝙣𝙜, 𝙝𝙚𝙖𝙧𝙩 𝙥𝙤𝙪𝙣𝙙𝙞𝙣𝙜, 𝙤𝙣 𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝙫𝙚𝙧𝙜𝙚 𝙤𝙛 𝙖𝙣𝙤𝙩𝙝𝙚𝙧 𝙥𝙖𝙣𝙞𝙘 𝙖𝙩𝙩𝙖𝙘𝙠, 𝙄 𝙗𝙧𝙤𝙪𝙜𝙝𝙩 𝙢𝙮𝙨𝙚𝙡𝙛 𝙗𝙖𝙘𝙠 𝙬𝙞𝙩𝙝 𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝙢𝙞𝙣𝙙𝙛𝙪𝙡𝙣𝙚𝙨𝙨 𝙩𝙝𝙖𝙩 𝙄 𝙙𝙞𝙙𝙣’𝙩 𝙝𝙖𝙫𝙚 𝙖 𝙘𝙤𝙢𝙥𝙪𝙡𝙨𝙞𝙤𝙣 𝙩𝙤 𝙘𝙤𝙢𝙢𝙞𝙩 𝙩𝙝𝙚𝙞𝙧 𝙫𝙞𝙡𝙚 𝙘𝙧𝙞𝙢𝙚𝙨. 𝙒𝙝𝙚𝙣 𝙮𝙤𝙪 𝙨𝙥𝙚𝙣𝙙 𝙮𝙤𝙪𝙧 𝙡𝙞𝙛𝙚 𝙞𝙣 𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝙩𝙧𝙚𝙣𝙘𝙝𝙚𝙨 𝙬𝙞𝙩𝙝 𝙢𝙖𝙙𝙣𝙚𝙨𝙨, 𝙞𝙩 𝙘𝙖𝙣 𝙧𝙚𝙖𝙡𝙡𝙮 𝙥𝙡𝙖𝙮 𝙩𝙧𝙞𝙘𝙠𝙨 𝙬𝙞𝙩𝙝 𝙮𝙤𝙪𝙧 𝙢𝙞𝙣𝙙. 

I tore right through this one. Holes’ writing was mesmerizing; he’s blends true crime, crime fiction, and memoir into a crime story that will leave you pissed off with any minor interruption taking you away from it. 

To say this is fascinating is an understatement. Unmasked will blow your mind, and it’s absolutely not for the faint of heart (think: maggots feasting on a decomposing face). If you’re at all squeamish, you’ve been warned. 

I loved that Holes gave us access to forensic details of cases that helped track down some of Americas most notorious serial predators. I found Holes’ account of the Laci Peterson case particularly intriguing. 

What really sucked me in though, was Holes’ sincere desire, sense of urgency, and obsession to solve cold cases that others investigators couldn’t crack to bring closure to victim’s families. The authenticity that Holes’ writes with enabled me to feel like an investigator right alongside him as he experienced the depressive lows brought on roadblocks and the euphoric highs of catching a serial predators after years of shedding blood, sweat, and, tears. 

However, Holes’ tale is also a cautionary one. He isn’t shy about sharing the significant sacrifices that a career in hunting evil and battling madness demands of those willing to undertake such a noble endeavour. His story was eye-opening and humbling.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 5/5 Stars.
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This memoir of the life and career of Paul Holes was amazing for a true crime fan like myself. I followed and have read about several of the high profile cases that he worked on and his story give a whole other perspective.  Laci Peterson, Jaycee Dugard, and of course the Golden State Killer were just a few of the cases discussed. I would have liked a deeper dive into some of the cases but I understand it’s a memoir and not a true crime documentary!

Thanks to Celadon Books for the ARC!
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Paul Holes has long been top tier standard for all things true crime. A stunning investigator, and immensely enjoyable author. Reading Unmasked was a wonderful ride. Very well written.
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“It’s a hazard of my investigative process, putting myself in the role of the killer.  After spending so much time in East Area Rapist’s head (now known as the Golden State Killer), I had an unsettling thought: what if I got stuck there?”

Part true crime, part memoir, Unmasked is a raw and immersive insider account of some of the most notorious cases of our lifetime and the investigator that solved them.  

From combing through crime scenes to bureaucratic restraints to constantly changing DNA technology, Holes details the inner workings of his job with a depth that fascinates.  He was known to foster a combination of science, art, and instinct to prove or disprove theories, often capitalizing on ancillary observation which accumulated as small victories that led to bigger wins.  But not every monster could be unmasked.  Even after following every painstaking lead, some cases came up empty.  

Holes investigated many noteworthy high profile cases, including Jaycee Duggard and Laci Peterson.  But his name is most synonymous with catching the Golden State Killer.  After more than 2 decades of research, Holes persistence combined with new DNA technology helped him bring down his most challenging and complex criminal.  

But it was the portrait he painted of himself that was most revelatory.  He describes homicide work as, “survival of the fittest.”  Obsessive to the point of getting lost in his work, Holes could interpret evidence but not his own feelings, and this necessity to solve cases consumed his whole life and eroded family relationships.  

True crime readily profiles a murderer’s psyche.  But it isn’t common to do so of the investigator, making this book both unique and riveting.  And while investigative work is one of the highest callings, it’s apparent through Holes’ career that much collateral damage is left in its wake.   

Which has made me wonder… Are those that bring criminals to justice in fact the actual last victim? 

If you are a fan of true crime, this one is gold.  
Thank you to @paul.holes and @celadonbooks for this #gifted copy to read and review.
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