Mindhunter: Inside the FBI’s Elite Serial Crime Unit by John. E. Douglas and Mark Olshaker

Mindhunter: Inside the FBI's Elite Serial Crime Unit
FBI Special Agent and expert in criminal profiling and behavioural science, John Douglas, is a man who has looked evil in the eye and made a vocation of understanding it. Now retired, Douglas can let us inside the FBI elite serial crime unit and into the disturbed minds of some of the most savage serial killers in the world.

The man who was the inspiration for Special Agent Jack Crawford in The Silence of the Lambs and who lent the film’s makers his expertise explains how he invented and established the practice of criminal profiling; what it was like to submerge himself mentally in the world of serial killers to the point of ‘becoming’ both perpetrator and victim; and individual case histories including those of Jeffrey Dahmer, Charles Manson, Ted Bundy and the Atlanta child murders.

With the fierce page-turning power of a bestselling novel, yet terrifyingly true, Mindhunter is a true crime classic.- GoodReads

My Review

After watching the Netflix series I wanted to read the book it was based on, I bought the book before I started the series as I was intrigued after recently starting to read true crime books. The series is a complete dramatisation of the book, the FBI agents in the series are fictitious so the book was completely different to the show. I really enjoyed the show and I’m hoping that they do another series.

Mindhunter, the book, is compelling and interesting. It starts with John Douglas detailing how he became a profiling for the FBI and how the Behavioural Science Unit came to be. It was very autobiographical to begin with and he continued to reinforce this idea that he’d always been a profiler of sorts since he was young, but I found his way of thinking a little strange.

The book got more interesting when he started to detail the history behind the FBI’s Behavioural Science Unit, reporting the investigations into various serial killers and how interviewing convicted serial killers helped them to examine their behaviours and develop a profile for this type of criminal. While reading the cases is disturbing it was interesting to read how they developed their methods of profiling and why. How their methods helped to change the way law enforcement could investigate crimes, understanding the killers’ behaviours which could then help build a profile and lead to an arrest.

In the most part this book was very informative and the style wasn’t dull like some non-fiction books can be. Once I started reading I’d quickly get intrigued and read a few chapters at a time.

However there were some aspects of the books that did affect my overall enjoyment. The book doesn’t seem to be written in a linear timeline, the cases are not discussed year by year, similar cases are grouped together, (correct me if I’m wrong). For the most part I think it followed a timeline but it wasn’t easy for me to follow or absorb the information. This is just the style of the book, it was still interesting but having a fixed timeline would help me to remember the historical facts. (Or it could just me). After reading a few cases the story did become repetitive, case introduced, how they investigated and then how it ended, but after taking a short break I came back to it with renewed enthusiasm.

I think if there was a little less autobiography and the cases written more historically I would’ve enjoyed this book a lot more. But I did like it and recommend it as an interesting book to read if you want to know more about serial killers and how their crimes were and have been investigated.

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