When Michelle McNamara died several years back, her work as a tireless amateur criminal investigator came to light, in part thanks to her husband, Patton Oswalt. McNamara had worked for years to unmask the Golden State Killer, getting very close and pursuing avenues traditional law enforcement might not have thought to take, like using genealogy sites, stray DNA samples, and global networks of similarly minded sleuths. After she died, that work was brought to bear, and 72-year-old Joseph James DeAngelo was arrested and charged with eight counts of murder and 13 related charges of kidnapping and abduction.
Much of McNamara’s work was detailed in the excellent book I’ll Be Gone In The Dark, which was finished posthumously by Oswalt, crime writer Paul Haynes, and investigative journalist Billy Jensen. Now, that book has been turned into an HBO miniseries of the same title, premiering this weekend. Directed by Liz Garbus, the six-party series acts, as The A.V. Club’s Katie Rife put it in her review, part “tribute to shoe-leather journalism,” part tribute to what DeAngelo’s many, many victims went through—both at the time, and in the agonizing years since.
The A.V. Club talked to Oswalt about his relationship to both the book and the documentary, and what he and Garbus hoped to achieve with the project.