It is super weird to say you’re a true-crime fan. What exactly is there to be a fan of? There are layers and layers of grossness and weirdness. The story-telling can be exploitative and callous. Someone’s pain is being mined for entertainment.
That being said, I am a consumer of true-crime content.
I’ve heard some people talk about their fascination with true-crime as a way to process their own anxiety about life’s uncertainty. And others who want to get inside the heads of the perpetrators to find out what makes them tick. While I think there is an element of both in my own interest, I am far more interested in the work of the people behind the scenes and those who work on behalf of the victims.
Enter Paul Holes.
Anyone with even a passing interest in crime would have some awareness of the East Area Rapist, later known as the Golden State Killer. It was not a story I knew much about, mostly because it is terrifying and for far too long, unresolved. In 2018, the arrest of Joseph DeAngelo for the string of crimes made the story impossible to miss headline news. I had/have no interest in DeAngelo because f*ck that guy, but very quickly the story of the people who worked for decades to catch him caught my interest. Paul Holes was the face of that work.
Paul Holes began popping up on podcasts and tv shows, always calm and matter-of-fact about the subject matter. He spoke about and with families of victims with respect and empathy. His work ethic and absolute commitment to finding an answer was clear in every interaction. For a guy who was retired, he seemed to always be working.
Unmasked has a lot of information about the various cases Paul Holes was involved in, much of it known already but with his observations and personal feelings adding a bit more depth. Where Unmasked truly shines though, is in the vulnerability Paul Holes shows in telling his own story. His dedication to finding the answers and telling the victims story kept him from being a part of his own life. In some ways, it’s the story we’ve seen a million times on every copaganda show and movie ever made. What sets Unmasked apart is Paul Holes and his determination to see things clearly, even his own flaws.