Chase Darkness with Me: How One True-Crime Writer Started Solving Murders

Chase Darkness with Me: How One True-Crime Writer Started Solving Murders


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***With an exclusive behind-the-scenes conversation between Billy Jensen and retired detective Paul Holes on the Golden State Killer, their favorite cold cases, and more***

Have you ever wanted to solve a murder? Gather the clues the police overlooked? Put together the pieces? Identify the suspect?

Journalist Billy Jensen spent fifteen years investigating unsolved murders, fighting for the families of victims. Every story he wrote had one thing in common—they didn't have an ending. The killer was still out there.

But after the sudden death of a friend, crime writer and author of I'll Be Gone in the Dark, Michelle McNamara, Billy became fed up. Following a dark night, he came up with a plan. A plan to investigate past the point when the cops had given up. A plan to solve the murders himself.

You'll ride shotgun as Billy identifies the Halloween Mask Murderer, finds a missing girl in the California Redwoods, and investigates the only other murder in New York City on 9/11. You'll hear intimate details of the hunts for two of the most terrifying serial killers in history: his friend Michelle McNamara's pursuit of the Golden State Killer and his own quest to find the murderer of the Allenstown Four. And Billy gives you the tools—and the rules—to help solve murders yourself.

Gripping, complex, unforgettable, Chase Darkness with Me is an examination of the evil forces that walk among us, illustrating a novel way to catch those killers, and a true-crime narrative unlike any you've read before.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781492685852
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Publication date: 08/13/2019
Pages: 336
Sales rank: 5,363
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 1.40(d)

Table of Contents

Foreword Karen Kilgariff ix

Prologue 3

1 Bam! Fowl Screech! Zap! 9

2 The Body in the Barrel 15

3 The Murder in the Shadows 25

4 Have You Seen This Man? 41

5 A Partner in Crimesolving 55

6 The Absolute Worst Humanity Has to Offer 71

7 The Wrong Side of Broken 79

8 The Man in the Green Hoodie 85

9 The Villain with a Thousand Faces 113

10 Losing Jade and Finding Mariah 143

11 The Halloween Mask Murder 165

12 The Devil in Plain Darkness 187

13 The Girl with the Serpent Tattoo 205

14 The Cantina Scene 223

15 The Monster at the End of This Book 241

Epilogue 265

Addendum So You Want to Help Solve a Murder? 269

In Conversation with Billy Jensen and Paul Holes 301

Reading Group Guide 311

Acknowledgments 315

About the Author 319

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Chase Darkness with Me: How One True Crime Writer Started Solving Murders 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 12 reviews.
sumit Rk 4 months ago
“Whenever people ask me why I only write about unsolved murders, I always say the same thing: because I hate the guy who got away with it.” When you think about a True Crime book, it’s usually about some unsolvable crime or an elusive criminal. We rarely see the amount of work and determination that goes into solving mysteries. Chase Darkness With Me by Billy Jensen is a fascinating real-life journey of Bill Jensen; from being a crime reporter to helping authorities in solving real-life cold cases. In this engrossing memoir, Jensen takes the reader on his quest to hunt down killers using social media and crowdsourcing. The book begins from Bill’s childhood with his father reading him crime headlines from the paper (which fueled his interest in true crime) to becoming a crime journalist. Jensen details his early work as a journalist and what drove him to crime investigations. He recalls his early successes, failures and his frustration with the system, which eventually made him take to solving crimes himself. The book recounts several cases including the Halloween Mask Murder case, the case of fugitive hiding out in Mexico, and the Bear Brook murders among others cases, where he helped find killers for police around the country using social media. Also covered in the book is Jensen’s experience of working with fellow journalist Michelle McNamara, who was investigating the Golden State Killer case. The author has included a section at the end of the book for those who wish to work as an online citizen detective, to track killers and fugitives, with a complete list of rules, tips, and cautions. If you’ve ever wanted to become a citizen detective, you may find this very useful (though personally I find the idea a bit risky) Chase Darkness with Me allows readers to understand the tough world of crime-solving. Jensen uses groundbreaking techniques to identify the criminals behind seemingly unsolvable murders. Using DNA databases, crowdsourcing on social media is a game-changer but the results are still hard and slow to come by. Jensen is honest about his successes and failures and the many dead ends in the path. This book is also a reality check for a lot of armchair detectives (crime-solving is tough, frustrating and in the end don’t expect to be the hero). In a way, this story is about a man’s journey through darkness to find the light at the end of the tunnel. The success of the book lies in the fact that Jensen makes you feel part of the journey. You feel disappointed after every setback, you feel thrilled after every breakthrough and you feel happy after solved case. I also enjoyed his childhood stories including his interactions with his father (which I found quite emotional). My only complaint about the book is that the author has covered many cases in the book and it’s hard to keep up with all of them. The book starts with a case, meets a dead-end and is finally solved a few chapters later. The chapters could have been organized a bit better. This book would definitely interest true crime fans a lot. It has multiple causes and offers a unique perspective on the world of crime-solving.
Rgaiovnik 5 months ago
“People read and watch and listen to true crime because it restores order from chaos. That’s the answer to give when someone asks you why you like hearing about real-life murders. It’s the comfort of watching everything be put in its place after an episode of outright, sickening bedlam.” The one thing completely evident in this book is that Billy Jensen is committed to helping law enforcement solve crimes. He puts his blood, sweat, tears and money into the process. A bit slow at times, but the stories themselves were great. The tips for citizen crime solving at the end were also great. The only thing I didn’t like was the interview at the end. I found it a bit redundant and had to skim parts of it.
Mel-Loves-Books 5 months ago
“Whenever people ask me why I only write about unsolved murders, I always say the same thing: because I hate the guy who got away with it.” In Chase the Darkness with Me, crime journalist Billy Jensen writes about his career and how he began investigating crime using crowd sourcing techniques on social media. I really enjoyed reading about Jensen’s life and how he came to become a crime journalist. He has lead an interesting life and has a fascinating career. I also think he makes some really interesting points about the future of crime investigation and the possible roll of public volunteers and social media. I will say it did not fit my current mood of binging true crime stories and trying to understand the minds of people that commit the crimes, so if that is what you are looking for this is not the book. I give this one 4 stars and I hope to see more from Billy Jensen.
BlondeswithBooks 6 months ago
After reading I’ll Be Gone In The Dark by Michelle McNamara- I knew I had to get my hands on this book. Michelle invested so many years of her life trying to help track down and identify the man she dubbed The Golden State Killer. She compiled tons of research and was in works to publish this book when she passed away. Billy Jensen, a close confidante of Michelle’s, made certain this book was completed and published after her death. Billy Jensen is a journalist who has spent years dedicated to investigating unsolved murders (especially those that didn’t get much attention) and fighting for the families of the victims. He believes all their stories deserve an ending- “The world didn’t need another story about the Zodiac Killer or Jack the Ripper. The murders in the shadows add up to a hell of a lot more than the murders in the spotlight. The shadows are where I needed to tread, because that’s where the problem lay. The blood of the forgotten was just as red as the “famous” victims.” Reading this felt like I was riding right alongside Billy as he helped identify various murderers across the United States. I couldn’t read this book fast enough- Billy, your dad would be so proud. If you’re a true crime fan, this is a must read. I suggest reading I’ll Be Gone In The Dark first so you can understand the elation felt by all when The Golden State Killer was finally caught. Another great audiobook to listen to is Evil Has A Name which contains amazing interviews from survivors of The Golden State Killer and the detectives that worked hard to take him down!
BuckeyeAngel 6 months ago
Journalist Billy Jensen has built his career on solving cold case murders, often using information found on social media and in other places the police don’t think to look. When detectives have no answers, they call Billy, the world’s first digital “consulting detective.” Step inside the world of true crime as Billy solves the Halloween Mask Murder, finds a murder/fugitive hiding out in Mexico, and investigates the only other murder in New York City on 9/11. Readers will also follow Billy closely as he helps finish Michelle McNamara’s #1 New York Times bestseller I’ll Be Gone In the Dark, after her sudden death. Full of twists, turns, and rabbit holes, Chase Darkness with Me allows readers to ride shotgun with Billy as he uses groundbreaking techniques to identify the criminals behind seemingly unsolvable murders This was a pretty good book. Billy Jensen definitely has a way with words that pulls any true crime fanatic. My only issue was getting through how he got started before getting to the crimes! It’s a great read. I highly recommend. **I voluntarily read and reviewed this book
literarybelle 7 months ago
Billy Jensen is a master storyteller and a brilliant "detective". If you have any interest in true crime, this is the book for you! Jensen starts from the beginning of his writing career and takes you through the major events that have modeled him into the man he is today. This story is riveting and emotional. From losing Michelle McNamara to solving the case of the Green Hoodie Man, you will learn just how hard it is to live in the world of unsolved mysteries.
Anonymous 7 months ago
This is a propulsive read. When I started the book, I had a difficult time putting it down - something I haven't been able to say about a book in a long time. The author, an experienced criminal journalist, makes for an engaging narrator as he relates how he transformed this career into a blend of investigative research/victim advocate/crime solver/author. The book is part memoir, part investigative reporting, part how-to manual, all tied up into a very engaging read. He has an easygoing, conversational style that captured my interest and enabled me to process the more technical aspects of his work. While the long hours and hard work can be tedious, frustrating and at times heartbreaking, he never once regrets the path he's chosen - which is to not only help tell the murder victims' stories, but also help the police solve the crimes and provide victims' families and friends with some answers. He uses social media extensively and exhaustively to build what he terms 'campaigns' to engage the public to help identify killers (and sometimes victims) in unsolved murder cases. Some of the cases are well-known, but the majority are ordinary people whose lives were cut tragically short. The author has great empathy not only for the victims, their families and friends, but also the people and organizations who are trying to solve these crimes and bring the killers to justice. There is a section at the very end where the author offers encouragement, support and a very practical roadmap for anyone who might be interested in becoming a victim advocate/investigative researcher/volunteer to local law enforcement agencies. To his credit, he does not try to glamorize the work should a reader want to pursue these endeavors. I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys solving a puzzle, or reads mysteries - but it also would appeal to a much larger audience due to the author's breezy writing style and the stories he tells.
Jaruwa 7 months ago
For many years, the author, Billy Jensen, was an investigative journalist, writing about unsolved crimes and trying to help the families of victims by bringing renewed attention to these cold cases. He became increasingly frustrated with the many cases that remained unsolved. Despite diligent police work, the sheer number of cases made it impossible to investigate them all fully. Existing resources weren’t sufficient to investigate cold cases as well as the increasing number of new cases. Shaken by the unexpected death of his dear friend, Michelle MacNamara, who had spent years searching for the identity of the Golden State Killer, he decided to become more actively involved in tracking down criminals. His background in the digital world led him to take full advantage of social media to investigate these crimes. Finding this innovative method to be very effective, he was able to help the police to catch and convict at least ten vicious killers, including the elusive Golden State Killer. Although police gave little credit to Michelle MacNamara for her invaluable help, without her exhaustive investigation, the Golden State Killer probably would not have been caught as soon as he was. At the time of her sudden death, MacNamara had been writing a book about her search for this killer. Billy Jensen, with the blessing of MacNamara’s loved ones, was able to finish this book. It was entitled I’ll Be Gone in the Dark, and it became a bestseller. The overwhelming backload of cold cases led Jensen to begin recruiting others like him who had the time and determination to help. He produced a television series called “Crime Watch Daily” and co hosts a podcast called “The Murder Squad”. His success in doing this important work of bringing killers to justice, he credits to his father who instilled in him the tenacity and dogged determination to make wrong things right. Fascinating and unforgettable. Recommended reading, especially for true crime aficionados. Note: I received an advance copy of the ebook from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Anonymous 7 months ago
Thank you to Billy Jensen, Sourcebooks and NetGalley for the copy of “Chase Darkness with Me” This was my first entry into the true crime novel. I have caught a few forensic files and have always been interested in the genre. The news coverage of the tragic events of “I’ll Be Gone In the Dark” by the late Michele McNamara also caught my attention, but not in a salacious way, more of a empathetic sense. This leads me to Mr. Jensen’s approach to investigate journalism and storytelling. He approaches every case with compassion, integrity, and most importantly empathy. He writes in a very insightful way, that is in no way exploitative, a common misconception of the true crime genre. Being my first true crime, it took me a while to change my approach from a fiction novel. These are not characters, these are real humans, with real families. Again the story is told with much compassion with excellent story telling skills. I have also read that the Audible version is fantastic, so please seek that out if that is how you consume stories. Thank you.
diane92345 8 months ago
“People read and watch and listen to true crime because it restores order from chaos.” Telling the real stories of searching for, and sometimes finding, murderers that eluded the police, Chase Darkness with Me is true crime at its best. A crime reporter decides to use targeted Facebook ads and crowdsourcing to solve cold cases. Through hard work, he finds some killers along with his crime-solving partner, Michelle. When Michelle dies, he finishes her book about finding the Golden State Killer. He starts a podcast. He looks for more killers. The completely new method of using crowdsourcing to solve crime is detailed here. The last chapter is a handbook on how to do what he has done—chase criminals. If you are a murderino or a true crime buff, Chase Darkness with Me is going to be your favorite book of 2019. For casual thriller or mystery readers, the stories showing how the author catches criminals are surprising and fascinating. 4.5 stars rounded up to 5 stars! Thanks to Sourcebooks and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
ody 8 months ago
I reviewed a digital version of this book. The author was a friend and colleague of Michelle McNamera’s until she passed away while working on her true crime book, ‘I’ll Be Gone In The Dark.’ He is one of several who helped her husband to finish the book and get it published. This is his story, telling how he went from just reporting on stories to getting so frustrated that he jumped in and started solving them. He and Michelle had plans to work together at it as soon as she sent off her book manuscript to the publishers, which sadly never happened as she passed away. It tells how Jensen began in murder solving. How he fumbled and got advice, and learned and kept on. Like most anything, the more you do it and learn about it, the better you get at it. Then, at long last, he solved his first case and that made a huge difference in his confidence. After his regular job, he’d been working on Michelle’s book at night. Jensen eventually developed his own system for getting tips online by targeting certain areas and then focusing on them with information and requests. He solved his 2nd case which came with police recognition and hugs from the victim’s mother and sister, which really really meant the most. After that, he was really on his way. This would be of interest to true crime fans as you can follow along and see how a writer becomes a crime solver. It has multiple cases that are interesting all through the book, some solved and some being worked on yet. Fascinating stuff as law enforcement and others tweak their skills to come up with new ways to solve crime in this new age.
Scotti_LeeMarie 8 months ago