Unmasked

My Life Solving America's Cold Cases

By Paul Holes
Author: Paul Holes
ISBN: 9781250622792
ON SALE: 04/26/2022

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ISBN: 9781250622792
Unmasked

**THE INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER**

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

For a decade, The Golden State Killer stalked and murdered Californians in the dead of night, leaving entire communities afraid to turn out the lights. The sadistic predator disappeared in 1986, hiding in plain sight for the next thirty years in middle class suburbia. In 1994, when cold case investigator Paul Holes came across the old file, he swore he would unmask the Golden State Killer and finally give these families some closure. Twenty four years later, Holes fulfilled that promise, identifying a 73-year-old former cop named Joseph J. DeAngelo. Headlines blasted from the U.S. to Europe: one of America’s most prolific serial killers was in custody.

That case launched Holes's career into the stratosphere, turning him into an icon in the true crime world with television shows like The DNA of Murder with Paul Holes and America's Most Wanted, and with the podcast Jensen & Holes: The Murder Squad. Everyone knows Paul Holes, the gifted crime solver with a big heart and charming smile who finally caught the Golden State Killer. But until now, no one has known the man behind it all, the person beneath the flashy cases and brilliant investigations.

In this memoir, Holes takes us through his memories of a storied career and provides an insider account of some of the most notorious cases in contemporary American history, including the hunt for the Golden State Killer, Laci Peterson's murder and Jaycee Dugard's kidnapping. This is also a revelatory profile of a complex man and what makes him tick: the drive to find closure for victims and their loved ones, the inability to walk away from a challenge—even at the expense of his own happiness. Holes opens up the most intimate scenes of his life: his moments of self-doubt and the impact that detective work has had on his marriage. This is a story about the gritty truth of crime solving when there are no flashbulbs and “case closed” headlines. It is the story of a man and his commitment to cases and people who might have otherwise been forgotten.

**THE INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER**

From the detective who found the Golden State Killer, 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.

Paul Holes
Paul Holes specialized in cold case and serial predator crimes, developing and applying investigative, behavioral, and forensic expertise in notable cases such as The Golden State Killer, and Jaycee Dugard. Holes is frequently sought out by investigators to consult on the most complex and high profile cases and has played a part in putting several serial predators on Death Row such as Darryl Kemp, Joseph Naso, and Joseph Cordova Jr.

As an FBI Task Force Officer while employed with the DA’s Office, Holes teamed up with FBI and Sacramento DA personnel to apply innovative technology that identified Joseph DeAngelo as the Golden State Killer, the most prolific and cunning serial predator in U.S. history.

Since the arrest of DeAngelo, Holes has been very involved on the media side, continuing to assist law enforcement and victim’s families with their unsolved cases through the television shows The DNA of Murder with Paul Holes and America's Most Wanted, and with the podcast Jensen & Holes: The Murder Squad.

Praise for Paul Holes

"True crime is hot, spawning documentaries, podcasts and books, and Unmasked has plenty to fascinate aficionados....What sets this book apart is that it’s as much memoir as true crime."

The Washington Post

“The book is about far more than Holes' cases, however. It is also about the terrible toll that decades of plunging into horrible murders took on his life.”

The Portland Tribune

“Paul Holes' memoir grabs its reader in a stranglehold and proves more fascinating than fiction and darker than any noir narrative.”

“Paul Holes' memoir grabs its reader in a stranglehold and proves more fascinating than fiction and darker than any noir narrative.”

Los Angeles Magazine

“Paul Holes takes you on a fascinating and sometimes disturbing journey inside the mind of someone who hunts monsters for a living—and in order to live. And his insights on Michelle McNamara—whose loss I still feel every day—are incredible.”

Patton Oswalt

"Fans of true crime will love every page of Unmasked. It is a wildly engaging and painfully honest read that will appeal to anyone curious about the lives of those who pursue justice for voiceless victims."

San Francisco Chronicle


Unmasked is a stunning, brutally honest memoir about a complex, highly gifted forensic scientist who sacrificed his own personal life, even his marriage and fatherhood, in his relentless pursuit of monsters.”

Mystery and Suspense

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