Paced like a thriller and full of insider information on the history and science of Crime Scene Investigation, In Light of All Darkness embeds readers in one of the most famous true-crime stories of our generation—the kidnapping of Polly Klaas—a case as pivotal in the history of the FBI as the Unabomber or Oklahoma City bombing.
On October 1, 1993, a 12-year-old girl was kidnapped at knifepoint from her bedroom in Petaluma, California, during a sleepover with two friends, while her mother slept soundly in the room next door. This rarest of all kidnappings—a stranger abduction from the home—triggered one of the largest manhunts in FBI history.
Many Americans remember Polly's face, which appeared on the national news every night, on the cover of People magazine, and on more than 8 million flyers distributed as far as China. The emotional gravity of Polly’s story touched every agent, police officer, and forensic technician who worked on her case. Many of these investigators have never shared their stories—until now.
New York Times bestselling author Kim Cross has written the first comprehensive account of what happened on that fateful night in October, as well as how the case forever transformed the Bureau’s approach to solving crimes. With unprecedented access to case files, crime scene photos, a videotaped murder confession, and inside sources, In Light of All Darkness follows the investigators who pieced together the evidence that led to the arrest and conviction of the kidnapper—and made the victim a household name and a girl who will never be forgotten.
About the Author
Kim Cross is a New York Times bestselling author, journalist, and historian known for meticulously reported narrative nonfiction. Her stories have been recognized in “Best of” lists by the New York Times, the Columbia Journalism Review, The Sunday Longread, Longform, Apple News Audio, and Best American Sports Writing. She lives in Boise, Idaho.
“Kim Cross has taken a story we thought we knew and shown so much more, a life beyond the headlines. I cut myself on parts of it, as the author put a human face -- and spirit -- on this great sadness, and the mystery that haunted us. It is written without adornment, but still rich in details. That is a hard thing to do.” —Rick Bragg, winner of the Pulitzer Prize
"Riveting… reported with empathy and Cross’s signature combination of unflinching detail and gut-punching revelations."—Beth Macy author of Dopesick and Raising Lazarus
"A terrifying story told with compassion, empathy, and insight. Meticulously researched, In Light of All Darkness illuminates a murder that stunned the nation and the complex forensic science used to solve the case. Try as I might, I couldn’t turn these heart-thumping pages fast enough – and neither, I suspect, will you."—Kathryn Miles, author of Trailed: One Woman’s Quest to Solve the Shenandoah Murders
“Writing with extraordinary care and compassion, Kim Cross shows not only the crime and its impact on the victims, but how the Polly Klaas case forever changed the way such crimes are investigated by law enforcement and viewed by the American people and mass media. In Light of all Darkness is not just another ‘true crime’ title, but real and essential American history.”—Glenn Stout, author of Young Woman and the Sea and Tiger Girl and the Candy Kid
"The Polly Klaas kidnapping haunted my childhood. Now, thanks to Kim Cross's thoughtful, and deeply sourced book, I have a much richer understanding of this heartbreaking case, and its profound and lasting impact. In Light of All Darkness is a gripping look into a police investigation, a community galvanized by grief, and the girl at the center of it all." —Rachel Monroe, author of Savage Appetites: Four True Stories of Women, Crime, and Obsession.
“Kim Cross has obsessively spun banker boxes of research into an against-the-clock thriller. In Light of all Darkness transcends the true-crime genre. It’s a page-turner built on deep research, literary empathy, and a personal involvement with the real people—the ones who suffered, who did the work, those who paid the price.” —Charles Graeber, New York Times bestselling author of The Good Nurse and The Breakthrough
"Searing...a riveting tale that demonstrates the investigation's effect on solving cases even three decades later."—Kirkus
“Cross’ coverage is polished and respectful, with a clear expression of ideas and heartfelt but dispassionate reporting. True crime and police procedural aficionados will find her treatment thoroughly informative and incredibly moving.” —Booklist
"One of the best true crime books out there. It shows the anguish and toll on the investigators and witnesses to a heinous crime. True-crime and public-affairs readers will devour this well-researched book."—Library Journal (starred review)
"In this deeply compelling and carefully reported book, journalist Kim Cross examines why the Polly Klaas case struck such a chord and the lasting impact it has had on investigative techniques...a fascinating and heartbreaking read."—BookPage
"Cross handles well the anxiety and fear that this story produces; she is clear in the facts and compassionate in the telling."—Book Reporter
PRAISE FOR WHAT STANDS IN A STORM:
"A new star has appeared in our literary sky.”—Ron Powers, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and co-author of Flags of Our Fathers
"Her verbs pulsate, her narrative web sucks you in. Mostly, Cross makes you care."—Beth Macy, New York Times-bestselling author of Factory Man
"A splendid reporter, and even better writer."—Diane McWhorter, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Carry Me Home
"Kim Cross has brought the real people behind the headlines vividly to life in these stirring pages. She is an amazing writer, a great reporter with a novelist's gifts for character and scene.”—Lee Smith, author of Guests on Earth
"Kim Cross is gifted, whirlwind of a writer who weaves coherence, meaning, and yes, even beauty from chaos."—Kevin Fedarko, author of The Emerald Mile
"Kim Cross could teach of few novelists about how to tell a gripping, spell-binding, heart-wrenching tale."—Clarion-Ledger
“Sumptuous… a startlingly intimate document, chockablock with family snapshots, that goes beyond steel decking, glass walls, concrete caissons, and the geometry of H columns and I beams. It’s a love song to a global icon that was, for the residents themselves, no museum.”—Vanity Fair, Praise for The Stahl House