Unmasked. A mini review.

Unmasked: My Life Solving America’s Cold Cases

By Paul Holes with Robin Gaby Fisher

Rating: 5/5 Stairs

Which starts like this:

December 2019

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.


This is one of those books where I think I need to tell you where I sit before I tell you where I stand. First up…the genre. I’ve been a true crime fan for decades. (I blame A&E, I got hooked on true crime in the late 1990s/early 2000s.) Secondly – I’m a fan of Paul Holes. I really enjoy his podcast (The Murder Squad) and I’ve watched several shows on TV that he’s involved in. Also I should tell you that if you’re not into true crime, this is probably not the book for you.

I first stumbled across the name Paul Holes in Michelle McNamara’s book I’ll Be Gone in the Dark; Michelle meets and befriends Paul in her search for the Golden State Killer. I was really interested to pick up this book and learn more about Paul Holes’ career with the Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Office, his work hunting for the Golden State Killer, and his work/life balance. How do you witness these horrific scenes, hunt for the killer, and then put all that aside and come home to your family?

Unmasked is really interesting, but a tough read at times. Paul briefly touches on a lot of different cases throughout his career, spending the most time on his decades long passion to find the Golden State Killer. At times, I would have liked more information on some of the cases. Although I know that an in-depth look at some of these cases probably could be a whole book just by itself. We see them from Paul’s perspective, which at times can be pretty graphic and unflinching. Paul describes in the book his ability to compartmentalize his emotions and separate from the case, and I think his reflections in this memoir reflect that.

Paul gets very involved in his cases, and his obsession in finding justice for the victims takes a huge toll on his family. Throughout this memoir we see his lack of work/life balance, and his struggle to be there for his family while keeping his private promises of justice for the victims and their families.

This memoir is a great look into the life of a criminologist who is obsessed with finding justice. Paul is empathetic, dedicated, and detailed, and this book takes you through his lifelong journey to find answers and solve the toughest cases.

Many thanks to Celadon books for providing me with a copy of this book for review.

One thought on “Unmasked. A mini review.

  1. Pingback: March 2022 Wrap-Up | Hidden Staircase

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