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Unmasked  By  cover art

Unmasked

By: Paul Holes,Robin Gaby Fisher
Narrated by: Paul Holes
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Publisher's Summary

This program is read by the author.

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 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.

A Macmillan Audio production from Celadon Books

©2022 Paul Holes (P)2022 Macmillan Audio

Critic Reviews

 "[Paul Holes's] memoir grabs its reader in a stranglehold and proves more fascinating than fiction and darker than any noir narrative."
Los Angeles Magazine 

"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 

"An exceptional memoir... his unflinching look at the emotional toll the more than 27 years he spent working in Contra Costa County in the San Francisco Bay Area took on him and his family distinguishes this from similar true crime narratives."
Publishers Weekly, starred review 

Featured Article: Best of the Year—The 10 Best True Crime Listens of 2022


While humans have devoured crime stories since Cain and Abel, the line between sensitive reporting and vulturous rubbernecking has been crossed, and then deliberately redrawn, time and again. In a year when true crime TV again made headlines for centering perpetrators and disregarding survivors, these 10 outstanding listens quietly went in a different direction, setting a new standard of excellence for riveting storytelling with a heart of justice.

What listeners say about Unmasked

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    4 out of 5 stars

I gave it the old college try

I truly hate having to return a book, but I simply couldn't make it through any more of this one. I love Paul Holes, and immediately clicked away my credit when I saw this title. I'm still intrigued by the GSK, and was eager to hear his story told once more straight from the source. But... there is a reason that authors don't necessarily make good narrators. Paul's pronunciations drove me bonkers. Beg for bag, teg for tag, buh-ten for button. I simply couldn't get past it. In a sentence such as "she was found dead in a sleeping beg", I found myself behind the wheel of my car shouting BAG! Also, I wasn't expecting to learn so much about his personal life, previous marriages, etc. Kinda boring to me. But, in all fairness, this isn't a John Douglas book so I can make an exception for Paul when it comes to that stuff.

9 people found this helpful

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The whole Holes

I've been a fan of Paul Holes since #hotforholes was a thing. I love this memoir because it puts a lot of things in the GSK time-line together for me. To be honest, I really loved hearing how his career pieced together too. I admire how candid and vulnerable Mr. Holes allowed himself to be. I felt like I could hear his throat tighten as he recalled the particularly painful moments of his career spent with victims/survivors, like you could tell it really gets to him, even though he comes off as a stoic kind of guy. Paul Holes is just a good dood! When are they going to offer him the Unsolved Mysteries host roll?! I love me some Robert Stack, and Mr. Hole's delivery, and tone make him perfect for reprising the iconic role. At least that is my opinion!

6 people found this helpful

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Stilted narration

The narration ruined what would have otherwise been an interesting book. I’d recommend getting a physical copy instead.

5 people found this helpful

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Just Meh

While parts of the book were riveting so much wasn’t. I think the hardest part was the way the author read his book. Too stilted, no flow or fluency to his reading and he awkwardly pronounced certain words over and over and over again. This should have been read by someone else.

2 people found this helpful

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Disappointing….

Based on the title & summary, I thought this was to be about the “inside story” of various cases on which Holes worked…not so much. Really don’t care about his emotional remoteness & inability to connect with his wives & kids…not much detail on ANY case mentioned. All about what a “rogue agent” Holes was flaunting authority to work on cold cases. Holes diction & pronunciation is odd…he often pronounces words in an exaggerated manner…sounds bizarre. One interesting item: Michelle Mcnamera often fawned over as “brilliant journalist…everyone loved her-she was a saint who tragically died in her sleep…..not so much….she accidentally OD’ed while self-medicating with Adderall, fentanyl & various other drugs. Wait until it goes on sale…not worth full price.

2 people found this helpful

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Respect for author… but not as a narrator

Fascinating and compelling stories about one of the most successful homicide detectives in the nation. It was so interesting to get a leak behind the curtain of what that life is really like, but the author’s voice was robotic and detracted from the story, sadly.

1 person found this helpful

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Great book

I couldn’t stop listening. Very good, honest, and interesting account of Paul Holes’ personal home life and interpersonal struggles while obsessing over and solving cases decade after decade.
Also I love the way Paul Holes enunciates certain words, with the hard T’s.. it’s cute haha

1 person found this helpful

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Unmasked

Agreed he talks allot about himself, his cases, his marriage and the hardships of his life - but he’s engaging enough to make it ok.. I listened to the end and don’t regret buying the book

1 person found this helpful

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Holes Delivers!

After the first few chapters, I thought this audiobook might focus too much on Paul Holes’ personal life. I wondered if getting this one was a mistake, as he talked about his first marriage, their problems, the kids etc.

However I stuck with it, and glad I did. Holes interwove his personal life story with many of the cases he worked on. He delivered a good listen! Seems his proudest achievement was breaking the “Golden State” killer, or “Night Stalker” case, which had gone cold. But there’s much more than that here. I’m a prolific true crime reader, and this book included some cases I hadn’t heard of, so I learned some things.

Holes does a good job narrating this, as his voice is clear and engaging, like a broadcaster’s. As some have noted, though, his narration can be a bit stilted, and he over pronounces some words. But I overlooked that.

1 person found this helpful

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Wonderful!

What a fantastic follow up listen to “I’ll be gone in the dark” by Michelle McNamara. I could not stop listening to Paul’s story. It is heartbreaking at times, and often brought me to tears. Loved it.

1 person found this helpful