Monday, 29 January 2018

Book Review: Mindhunter by John Douglas and Mark Olshaker

Special Agent John Douglas is the man who helped usher in a new age in behavioural science and criminal profiling. With 25 years of experience and having hunted some of the most notorious criminals of our time, Douglas has a unique insight into the minds of serial killers.

“Behaviour reflects personality. The best indicator of future violence is past violence. To understand the "artist", you must study his "art". The crime must be evaluated in its totality. There is no substitute for experience, and if you want to understand the criminal mind, you must go directly to the source and learn to decipher what he tells you. And, above all: Why + How = Who.”

True crime is my thing. If someone can hold a conversation with me based on murder and serial killers, you are automatically my new best friend. So excitement was at an all-time high starting Mindhunter. I’m not one for binging TV shows, I usually like to prolong my enjoyment for as long as possible, but I just couldn’t help myself with Mindhunter on Netflix. The book had been on my wishlist for a while, but the show was the excuse I needed to finally get my hands on a copy. And the book really delivers!!

There’s a lot of murder within these pages. A lot. And no details are spared. Douglas covers a range of different topics related to criminal profiling – whether it be his thoughts on why there aren’t really many female serial killers, or if such monsters can ever really truly be rehabilitated and let back into society. There isn’t really a distinct structure to the book, the first 100 pages are basically a background to his career and how he got to be at the forefront for the initiation of what is now known as the Behavioural Analysis Unit. I mean, I guess the rest of the book is semi-chronological, but he will often discuss similar crimes together.

This brings me to John Douglas himself. He is clearly a genius when it comes to his area, he knows what he’s doing, and I’m pretty sure there aren’t many who have a better insight into the minds of serial killers. However, he is a bit arrogant at times and I found myself rolling my eyes - “yeah John, you’re always right. Uh huh. If you had been involved they would have caught him sooner. Yep. You’re right.” Off the top of my head, I can’t think of any scenario in which Douglas admits he was wrong about something? I discussed this with Matthew and he said about how he read somewhere that often these kinds of people who spend a lot of time in the company of serial killers often begin to take on some of their traits – so perhaps this helps explain his arrogance. Or maybe you just gotta be like that in this line of work – I don’t know, but it was my nitpick for this book.

At the time of writing, BTK and the Unabomber, along with a few others, had yet to be caught, but my edition had a new introduction at the beginning wherein they discuss these arrests and any other relevant updates. So if you’re interested in reading Mindhunter, I’d suggest trying to find an edition with this introduction.

I’m actually surprised at how long it took me to read Mindhunter, I thought I’d just race through it, but it’s definitely the kind of book that you need to savour slowly. There’s a lot of detail and so much that I was trying to take in that I needed to really focus on what I was reading. Ultimately, it was worth it. I have a slight book hangover in that I miss ALL THE MURDERS *cries* but I guess I’ll just get my fix from podcasts for the foreseeable future. 4 stars from me! If you love true crime, this book is a must.


1 comment :

  1. Great review. So, how was the show in relation to the book?


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