Dark Night in Aurora Cover

A Dark Night in Aurora: Inside James Holmes and the Colorado Mass Shootings

James Holmes killed or wounded seventy people in a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado. Only one man was allowed to record extensive interviews with the shooter. This is what he found.

On July 20, 2012 in Aurora, Colorado, a man in dark body armor and a gas mask entered a midnight premiere of The Dark Knight Rises with a tactical shotgun, a high-capacity assault rifle, and a sidearm. He threw a canister of tear gas into the crowd and began firing. Soon twelve were dead and fifty-eight were wounded; young children and pregnant women were among them. The man was found calmly waiting at his car. He was detained without resistance.

Unlike the Columbine, Newtown, San Bernadino, Orlando, Las Vegas, and Jacksonville shootings, and James Holmes is unique among mass shooters in his willingness to be taken into custody alive. In the court case that followed, only Dr. William H. Reid, a distinguished forensic psychiatrist, would be allowed to record interviews with the defendant. Reid would read Holmes’ diary, investigate his phone calls and text messages, interview his family and acquaintances, speak to his victims, and review tens of thousands of pages of evidence and court testimony in an attempt to understand how a happy, seemingly normal child could become a killer.

A Dark Night in Aurora uses the twenty-three hours of unredacted interview transcripts never seen by the public and Reid’s research to bring the reader inside the mind of a mass murderer. The result is chilling, gripping study of abnormal psychology and how a lovely boy named Jimmy became a killer.

“A powerful book that delves deep into a seriously deranged mind.”

– New York Journal of Books

“A Dark Night in Aurora is a responsible, rigorous, voluminously researched, crystal clear portrait of an unbalanced young man who fought off his darkest impulses for years. Anyone searching for insight into our nation’s crisis of mass-shootings should start here.”

– Robert Kolker, author of New York Times bestseller Lost Girls

“Stunning, scrupulous, and relentlessly gripping, A Dark Night in Aurora is a triumphant work of investigative nonfiction. Not only was Reid ideally situated to recount the complex narrative of the perpetrator of one of America’s most horrifying mass shootings, he spared no effort in his mission to analyze the case from all angles and to present as detailed and balanced a picture as possible. Reid is brilliant—as deft a storyteller as he is a scientific communicator.”

– Daniel J. Patinkin, author of The Trigger: Narratives of the American Shooter

“Dr. Reid provides a compelling, insider’s view of one of the worst shootings in United States history.”

– Peter Langman, PhD, author of School Shooters: Understanding High School, College, and Adult Perpetrators



“A very accurate and factual book detailing the investigation into James Holmes and the Century 16 Theater mass shooting. Dr. Reid did an excellent job examining and documenting and video recording James Holmes for the court.”

– Detective Craig Appel, Aurora Police Department, lead detective in the James Holmes case

“The majority of mass shooters do not survive their attacks, dying either by suicide or police bullets. Because James Holmes chose to live, and because Dr. Reid was able to spend so much time with him after his assault, A Dark Night in Aurora adds a significant chapter to the understanding of this kind of violence and those who perpetrate it— a much-needed case study.”

– Stephen and Joyce Singular, authors of The Spiral Notebook: The Aurora Theater Shooter and the Epidemic of Mass Violence Committed by American Youth

“Dr. William Reid takes the reader behind the headlines for a complete and thoughtful look at the complexities of a mass murderer’s life story, distorted thinking, and destructive actions, and he does so with clarity, accuracy, and uncommon fairness. A Dark Night in Aurora is true crime writing at its best: facts and fairness without hyperbole or sensationalism.”

– Park Dietz, MD, MPH, PhD

“Compelling, insightful, engrossing, and an easy read for such a rich and complicated subject.”

– A.D. Oppenheim, film and TV producer