In Light of All Darkness

In Light of All Darkness by Kim Cross

Brendan’s Alternate Tagline for In Light of All Darkness:

Always check the locks.

Quick synopsis:

The story of the kidnapping of Polly Klaas in 1993.

Fact for Non-History People:

Two of Polly’s friends were in the room when she was kidnapped.

Fact for History Nerds:

When children are kidnapped and murdered, 89% are killed within 24 hours and 76% within 3 hours of the crime.

My Take on In Light of All Darkness:

There are some true crime cases which leave a mark. I was only 11 when Polly Klaas was kidnapped, but I remember the national uproar it caused. I don’t remember many of the details, but Kim Cross is rectifying that with her book In Light of All Darkness. To make a long story short, the book is excellent. Specifically, the first part of the book which chronicles the crime and immediate response is masterfully told. I felt myself reading furiously as if I was part of the story and anxious to get to the next part of the journey. It cannot be understated that bad true crime will make you feel like you are having facts thrown at you without real feeling while good true crime adds an air of urgency. Cross completely nails the urgency in the first part of the story.

The second part covers the investigation of the crime after the initial stages. I have to say that this part dragged for me a bit. After the adrenaline of the first part of the book, this felt a bit too slow. However, I can’t say Cross should eliminate the section either. The successes, missteps, and technological advances are vital to the story. Cross is unfortunately a victim of her own success because it can’t have the energy of the beginning of the book.

The final portion of the book is the catharsis. While most people remember how the story ends, Cross walks the reader through without losing sight of all the characters along the way. It is a fitting and emotional end. Cross wisely points out how the Klaas case got outsized media attention without going into a full dissertation on the injustice of these cases. I think tackling the subject matter is best off in another book. This one is excellent enough.

(This book was provided as an advance copy by Netgalley and Grand Central Publishing.)


Great (and heartbreaking) true crime. Buy it here!

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