Cover Image: Unmasked


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Member Reviews

A very personal and informative look at the life of the detective who helped capture the Golden State Killer. A fast and engaging read.
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I've been a criminal defense attorney for 16 years. In that time I've seen and read a lot of shit. Being in this field for so long makes you incredibly paranoid about everyone and everything. My anxiety is always at a raging mock 10 because I know you can never judge a book by its cover. You never truly know all the inner workings of anyone. 

When I was younger, I would read any book that Anne Rule put out. She was a true crime writing genius. I loved her and for many, many years I wanted to become a criminal profiler. But, then I realized they'd probably ask me questions about my high school and college days and well, that would quickly disqualify me from consideration. 

So, I became a lawyet. In the last 5 to 10 years, I probably have only read a handful of true crime books. But, when I saw Unmasked available in Netgalley, I did not stop at go.

True to form, this book had me thinking someone was gonna come in and massacre me in the middle of the night. So, I made sure to wear appropriate attire in the event that I had to be escorted out in a body bag.

Paul Holes is without question an extremely intelligent and effective law enforcement officer (retired). He dedicated his life to his profession. He worked in very high profile cases, including the capture of the Golden State Killer, who was the focus of this book. He was also involved in several other high profile cases, including that of Lacy Peterson and Jaci Dugger. 

I found all of the case discussions extremely interesting. On the flip side, I was saddened by his struggle to find a work/life balance. His family life, his relationship with his wives, his children, all suffered because of his dedication to solving cold cases.

All in all, a really good read. 

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Paul Holes was thrust into the spotlight with the Golden State Killer DNA solution, because he was instrumental in the case.  This book Unmasked is the author's examination of his life's work: bringing some sort of peace to many victims of violent crime and murder.  Mr. Holes was related details of many of his cases, plus the toll his almost obsessive devotion to work took on his personal life.  Fascinating!
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I was ecstatic to receive an ARC of “Unmasked,” by Paul Holes. “Unmasked” is his memoir and an incredibly fascinating look into his entire life, not just the one he’s famous for as a cold case detective. I knew of his work on the GSK Killer case, but he also worked on some other famous crimes, like Laci Peterson and Jaycee Duggard.
Highly recommend for true crime buffs and memoir lovers.
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Paul Holes may be most known for his involvement with capturing the Golden State Killer, but he has had a storied career working on other well-known true crime cases as well as cases without much media attention. Holes tells his story chronologically through the major cases he's worked on, and chapters are interspersed with more personal details of his life, such as the strain his career placed on his marriages and children. This book is a clear choice when recommending similar titles to "I'll be Gone in the Dark" by Michelle McNamara and "Chase Darkness with Me" by Billy Jensen.
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I've been interested in true crime since I was a pre-teen.  I suppose it has to do with a sense that justice should always be served.  As an adult, I've learned it doesn't happen more often than not.  The Golden State Killer case was a big part of my life, because of the sheer depravity of that monster.  I followed the case to the point I left my husband in the hospital with kidney stones so I could catch the press conference.  I lived in Orange County, not far from some of the victims, and that weighed on my heart.  I admired the tenacity of Paul Holes in his long quests to turn over every possible stone to help move these cases toward answers for the victims and their families.  The author "retired" to Colorado Springs, just about the time we were planning our move there, so this book also held a bit of "local" flavor for me.  This was one of my most anticipated books of 2022, and it did not disappoint.  I thought it would be all true crime, but I was pleasantly surprised to learn that it was more a memoir with his cases following him and shaping him...for good and for bad.  He admits he was not present for his family, he is not perfect, and he's made plenty of mistakes in his personal life.  I admired the honesty about anxiety-related issues he's had almost his entire life.  We need more people to be honest about those conditions.   I hope that the author has found some peace in his retirement, as his children are in their last years at home, and in the best of nature found in The Springs.  He has done an admirable job, and he did not want those who had passed to remain silent.  My only criticism was that I felt it focused much more on his first wife than his current.  That could have been intentional to retain some privacy for his current wife,  This book was different than I'd expected, but somehow much more.  Highly recommend this book.  I was fortunate to have received a copy from Celadon Books, as well as an e-ARC from NetGalley.  All opinions are my own, and 
I was grateful for the opportunity.
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This  was one of my most anticipated books of the year and it did not disappoint.  In fact, it exceeded my expectations not only in terms of how well-written it is but the sheer honesty with which Paul Holes approached not only his professional life but his personal life.  The descriptions of crimes and crime scenes were unflinching and powerful but I was even more moved by how Holes discussed his battles with anxiety and how his chosen professional affected his personal life and relationships.  A must read for any true crime fan and, more broadly, any fans of memoirs.
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I was so excited for the opportunity to read this book before it’s official launch date. As a true crime fan and documentary watcher, you can bet I’m #HotForHoles. My overall rating is a four star; some parts were very intriguing, while others did not keep the same level of captivation throughout. Regardless, I still found myself picking this book up to read at any chance I could to get, and it did not disappoint. A great choice for a book club!
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I’m so thankful to the publisher for allowing myself and my book club to read an advance copy of this book. 

As a fan of memoirs and of police procedural shows like Criminal Minds, I was so interested in Unmasked! 

Going into this book, I did not know much about Paul Holes. But now I feel like I do! 

In this memoir, he openly discusses how he started his career, how got into solving cold cases, his family life and the toll that being in this line of work had on him personally. I appreciated how he was so candid with sharing how his mental health was affected while trying to track down serial killers. 

The book itself is incredibly readable! Praise needs to be given to his coauthor for how the words flow with such ease. 

I will say, this book is quite graphic with its detailing gruesome crimes. While I feel it wasn’t over the top, I did find that I needed to take some breaks. (And don’t try to read this during your lunch break- you’ll definitely get to the bloody parts of you do!) 

I enjoyed this read and found it to be a great selection for my book club! There were so many topics to discuss.
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Paul Holes is a beloved figure in the world of true crime and Unmasked gives the reader a glimpse into his career as a crime scene investigator. Holes' story unfolds mostly in chronological order that is tied together by the years he spent investigating the cold cases of the Golden State Killer. Filled with moments of vulnerability, this memoir demonstrates Holes' commitment not only to solving crimes, but his passion for bringing some sense of justice to victims which oftentimes came at a personal loss. Essential reading for the true crime junkie!
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Thank you Paul Holes and NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review this. 

This is a fantastic and fascinating look at some of the most famous true crime cold cases and how they are solved. Lots of trustworthy and professional information contained within. Easy enough to read and understand as well. Definitely a 5 star book for the genre.
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Fascinating look into the life of a criminologist focusing on cold case and the price it pays for those involved. Putting together the puzzle pieces to solve crimes takes dedication and perseverance. This fast moving memoir by detective Paul Holes, is a must read for all true crime lovers.
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Highly recommended! Anyone who is drawn to study true crime undoubtedly already knows about Paul Holes and appreciates his contributions to solving cold cases, but even those who don't know a thing about him (or these cases) will be glad to have read this book. This book is well done both as a fascinating memoir and also also as a new approach to the "true crime" genre; Mr. Hole's unique perspective, and his insights into what actually happens behind the scenes as cases are investigated, are very enlightening.

Thank you so much for an advance copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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Excellent book that dives into some of the most famous cold cases in recent US history, told by the investigator, including the case of the Golden State Killer. Highly recommend for anyone interested in true crime.
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Thank you to NetGalley for an advanced copy of Unmasked. 

If you love true crime, you know Paul Holes. I was excited when I saw that he had a book coming out and couldn't wait to dive into some unknown cases with him. 

Paul covers many different cases, as we travel through his decades with the Contra Costa Sherriff's department. Some of the cases I was familiar with, but many I wasn't. We learn how he became involved in solving cold cases and how he returns to the EAR case throughout the years, woven in between these other experiences. We see him fighting for the truth, but we also see the psychological implications of a job that involves dealing with murder and death, as well as the damaging effects it has on his marriage and family. 

I enjoyed this book, and it definitely made me want to reread Michelle McNamara's I'll be Gone in the Dark, so I can compare their experiences with each other. Unmasked showed a different side of Paul, we know he is passionate about solving these crimes and giving family's closure, but we see all the underlying currents propelling him forward. For him, it's a mission and a calling, but it's also a compulsion, an obsession.
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Anyone who even remotely follows true crime knows who Paul Holes is, but for those who don’t: he is a retired forensic scientist and cold case investigator best known for hunting down the Golden State Killer and his friendship/investigative partnership with Michelle McNamara (author of I’ll Be Gone In The Dark). 

In this memoir, Holes outlines cases he’s worked on — some famous, some lower-profile, some solved, some still open — and openly shares the physical and mental toll decades of exposure to the worst things people do to each other took on him — and why he kept doing the job anyway. 

I have an image in my head of Paul Holes (and other investigators) as stoic and unphased by the horrors they see — like they’ve somehow transcended visceral emotional responses because they’re so experienced. But Holes
doesn’t shy away from sharing details of his panic attacks and nightmares and the effects his obsessions had on his personal life. For someone who is admittedly a private person and describes decoding his own feelings as “playing chess with missing pieces” — Holes is brutally honest in discussing his emotions and failings in addition to his many successes. 

I also loved that he included some information about the technical aspects of DNA testing.

This is an absolute must-read for anyone interested in true crime. 

(Review will be posted on IG @leavemetomybooks closer to pub date)
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