Review: Chase Darkness with Me by Billy Jensen

Review by Ashley Supinski

cover of chase darkness with meBilly Jensen is an investigative journalist who focuses strictly on helping local police departments to identify murder suspects by reaching out to the masses — through social media ads.

In Jensen’s debut memoir Chase Darkness with Me: How One True-Crime Writer Started Solving Murders (Sourcebooks, 2019), he walks the reader through how he became obsessed with crime writing and his first “solve” through geo-targeted Facebook ads to discovering how the Golden State Killer was arrested thanks to DNA. Each chapter focuses on a new case that Jensen became interested in and went to social media to identify blurry surveillance videos of unknown perpetrators. Interspersed through the chapters are snapshots of Jensen’s life, such as major events in his kids’ lives, his father’s death, and how he handles distraction from crime.

Jensen’s epiphany about using targeted social media ads came while battling insomnia: People didn’t use “old media” any longer. Because they rarely watch the nightly news or read the daily newspaper, people won’t actually see the police reports or videos and images of suspects being sought for questioning. So Jensen decided to use his skills and go to where the people were.

True crime obsession isn’t anything new, but it’s seen a resurgence within the last few years. Still, Jensen’s memoir is a great addition for any true crime addict’s library. He discusses both unknown cases such as Joseph Miller, who absconded to Mexico, and famous cases, such as Terry Rasmussen/The Allenstown Four. Heavy on amateur crime-solving, he also ends the book with resources and how-tos for other would-be internet sleuths.

Jensen is a co-host of the popular crime podcast, The Murder Squad, alongside retired criminologist, Paul Holes. He starred alongside former district attorney Loni Coombs in Oxygen’s mini-series, Death at the Mansion: Rebecca Zahou. He worked with Patton Oswalt and Paul Haynes to complete Michelle McNamara’s crime memoir, I’ll Be Gone in the Dark, after her untimely death in 2016.

 

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