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Paul Holes Reveals the Toll of Crime Solving in Unmasked

This investigative legend’s memoir hits shelves on April 26.


If you’re a true crime junkie, you’re likely already familiar with Paul Holes. In 1994, he became an investigator for the Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Office and began looking into the cold case files of the criminal then known as the East Area Rapist. For over twenty years, Holes pursued the man now more commonly known as the Golden State Killer, relying on advanced DNA technology. Along the way, he teamed up with Michelle McNamara after she launched her own famous investigation. 

Read a free excerpt of Unmasked by Paul Holes.

Holes’s contributions to the eventual identification of the Golden State Killer are what he’s most famous for, but he’s investigated many cold cases throughout his career. The murder of Laci Peterson and the recovery of Jaycee Dugard 18 years after she was kidnapped are just some of the famous cases Holes has been involved with. Holes retired in 2018, but that hasn’t stopped his interest in cold cases. In 2019, he launched his podcast, The Murder Squad, where he and true crime journalist Billy Jensen examine ongoing cold cases.



By Paul Holes

In his new memoir, Unmasked—which comes out on April 26—Holes recounts his impressive career. He describes how the thought of good people suffering drives him to seek justice for them, even if it takes decades. Holes always told people he was able to spend every day thinking about horrific crimes by compartmentalizing and keeping his feelings and his work separate, but that strategy proved to not be sustainable. 

What makes Unmasked such a must-read is that Holes is unafraid to talk about the fact that solving crimes takes a toll on his mental health and personal relationships. It’s a memoir of not only career success and justice served at last, but of the sacrifices he’s had to make for that justice. True crime fans will love this in-depth look at the sometimes harsh reality of what it takes to solve crimes.