I know there are many people who are familiar with Paul Holes but until this book came up in my Goodreads feed, I had never heard of him. I’m not particularly into true crime, especially when it focuses on serial killers, which I know may sound strange from someone who loves thrillers and some horror. It was a topic I once had an interest in but that interest turned to anxiety ridden avoidance over the years!
Regardless, Paul Holes’ true crime memoir did catch my attention immediately with the prologue. I was tearing up before I’d even hit chapter one. Perhaps what made this work so well for me was the memoir aspect. This isn’t a book about crime written from a neutral outsider, but from the heart of someone who had firsthand experience with each brutal scene. Holes was undeniably affected by these crimes, despite how he learned to cope on the job, and his empathetic nature toward the victims and their loved ones shined through in the narrative.
I loved how honest he was about his own mental health struggles, as well as his shortcomings in intimate relationships. Not everyone would be willing to acknowledge the ways they shortchanged their family because of their job and that authenticity brewed a great respect within me for the author.
This isn’t an easy book to read due to the graphic nature of the crimes described. I found the details of the rapes and murders to be far more terrifying than anything I’ve read in fiction. True horror will always be, in my mind, the reality of what actual human beings are capable of.
Unmasked: My Life Solving America’s Cold Cases will likely remain my favorite read of May. I cannot imagine another book surpassing it. It was an educational, vulnerable, and emotional read. I was affected by it in ways I could have never anticipated and I applaud Holes for his candid storytelling.
I am immensely grateful to Celadon Books for my review copy. All opinions are my own.