Saturday, January 20, 2024

Book Review - Unmasked

Title:   Unmasked
Author:  Paul Holes 
 with Robin Gaby Fisher
Publisher:  Celedon Books
Genre:   True Crime
Format:  Print ARC
No. of Pages:   288
Date of Publication:   April 26. 2022
My Rating:   5 Stars


From the detective who found The Golden State Killer, a memoir of investigating America’s toughest cold cases and the rewards--and toll--of a life solving crime.

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 had 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.


From McDonald’s to drug analyst. Paul Holes definitely grew in his career. However, his aim was to become a criminalist. It didn’t take him long to decide that he wanted to become a criminal for profiler may have taken him three years, but that’s the goal he had. Meanwhile newly married, his wife Lori wanted  children.
So many victims. So many shattered lives. So many scars. How one feels about such things is subjective but the scars never fade in the pain it’s always about the way it’s a terrible way to spend your life.

Holes retired young at the age of 50, but there was one case he could not forget. There was someone who was a psychological terrorist, known as the East Area Rapist. Then Paul considered the case of the Golden Gate Killer…a cold case for over 40 years

In the decades that passed, DNA technology grew by leaps and bounds, and this included  DNA segment triangulation. DNA results and research get better every year. DNA that failed to convict 20 years ago can be used with today’s advanced  scientific methods.

Unmasked reminded me of the television show, Quincy, with Jack Klugman. Hole's personal life played into his professional life as he experienced panic attacks that began when he was 15 years of age. With Holes always seeing the dark side of humanity it started to have a terrible consequence on his marriage. It began to fall apart the more he saw the dark side of humanity. He could not balance a happy family life with the things that he saw on the job.

This book illustrates Holes' amazing investigative process. But then there is the fact that he wanted answers to questions that might never be found. Even this question - how could a loving God allow such cruelty in this world we live in?

He could never not rest well with cold cases and his determination to find as many of these serial killers as he could was of primary importance. Finding closure for families of victims was paramount to him.

How did Paul Holes feel about cold cases? He said as long as someone is looking, there’s a chance for the case to be solved. So he left no stone unturned. Every cold case was a challenge, however, there were times when he had to move onto the next challenge. He never viewed victims as just a name or a file number. They have were people with stories. People whose stories deserved to be told with justice. People who deserved to be found. EchoStar

Paul Holes was gifted. He was able to combine science and his incredible instinct to prove or disprove the theories that he was developing in his career. Truly a compelling, unforgettable read. 

Many thanks to Celedon Books for this ARC for review. This is my honest opinion.

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