My Life Solving America's Cold Cases

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Pub Date 26 Apr 2022 | Archive Date 25 Aug 2022



"It’s a mark of the highest honor when I say it’s even more riveting than an episode of 'Dateline'."
—The New York Times

From Paul Holes, the detective who found the Golden State Killer, Unmasked is a memoir that "grabs its reader in a stranglehold and proves more fascinating than fiction and darker than any noir narrative." (LA Magazine)

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 have 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.


"It’s a mark of the highest honor when I say it’s even more riveting than an episode of 'Dateline'."
—The New York Times

From Paul Holes, the detective who...

A Note From the Publisher

Media requests should be directed to christine.mykityshyn@celadonbooks.com

Media requests should be directed to christine.mykityshyn@celadonbooks.com

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ISBN 9781250622792
PRICE $28.99 (USD)

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Featured Reviews

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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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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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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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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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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