Cover Image: Unmasked


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Member Reviews

Unmasked was an enjoyable and fascinating read. 

I liked all of the different crimes that were discussed by author, Paul Holes. He had me Googling late into the night to get additional information on the crimes he was involved with. I wish the author had wrapped up what occurred with the investigation, even if was still unresolved. 

I admired Holes devotion for finding the killers and seeking justice for the victims and their families but I also wanted to shake Paul often, he kept making decisions which were only going to cause a negative impact on his family and I wanted everyone to be happy! I hope he and his second wife are both happy and that Paul does a podcast telling about each crime in a little more detail. 

Thank you Celadon and NetGalley for inviting me to read, Unmasked, in exchange for my honest review!
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🩸What an incredible true crime read. I was sucked in immediately. I could not put this one down. Hearing all the different cases and the hunt for GSK was so interesting. It was even more interesting to hear it from the scientific part of the criminal justice system.

🩸I feel like we hear detectives perspectives and to hear how DNA and genealogy techniques found a serial killer YEARS and DECADES later was incredible. Despite the scientific aspects, nothing about this was dry and Paul kept me engaged from page one. I finished this book in one day.

🩸Paul’s struggles were real and his honestly added another aspect to this one.

🩸All my true crime fans out there, definitely pick this one up. 

Review and photo on @biggsy_books Instagram
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I have followed Paul Holes since his appearance on My Favourite Murder. I have listened to all of his podcasts (I can't wait till they are back from their Hiatus). I have also watched him on a couple of tv shows. I may be a Paul Holes super fan. 
I went into school thinking I would end up in a forensic labs-turns out there are not a lot of crime labs where I am and it is a hard industry to get into. I loved reading about Hole's account of going from lab assistant all the way to a detective. Paul Holes did not sugarcoat his job. He was made for this line of work but it is not a pretty line of work. He shared some of the gruesome details of what he show over his career working in homicide but also the toll it took on his personal life. He had to sacrifice a lot to be the amazing detective he became. 
If you are interested in the true-crime genre at all, I highly recommend checking out this book. Paul Hole has a way of showing his vulnerability and sharing details of his life and his work that captivate you.
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I’m already declaring Unmasked as one of my favorite books of the year. Paul Holes is best known for helping solve the Golden State Killer case, but this memoir gives a deep dive into the many cases he investigated and consulted on over the years. And the cases covered in this book all took place in the county I live in - Contra Costa County, where Paul worked for many years before finally retiring. Being so familiar with the places mentioned in his memoir gave me a whole new level of appreciation for his tireless work and for keeping our county safe. 

Paul Holes’ dedication to his job and to helping families get answers is truly unmatched. This is a must read for all true crime fans. Thank you Celadon Books for this advance reading copy.
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Unmasked emotional wrecked me. This is an amazing true crime novel that follows a detective’s journey in solving not only the Golden State Killer case, but multiple others. This is a strong 5-star book! I highly recommend!
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It seems that it would be impossible these days to be a person who consumes any contemporary true crime and not have at least a passing familiarity with Paul Holes's work. As a listener of The Murder Squad since episode one, it's been clear for a long time that Paul had an incredible career, and that it definitely has taken its toll on him. In Unmasked, not only do readers get a taste of the wide variety and quantity of cases he was involved with over the years, but of how deeply this work has affected him and his personal life. His relentless pursuit of truth and justice often got in the way of being present for his family, and he's very honest in this book about the ways in which he struggled with any sense of balance and the long term affects it's had on his mental health and relationships. There are some fairly detailed descriptions in the book of the cases he worked on, so be aware of that.
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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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