28
Dec
11

CR3 #95: The Cases That Haunt Us by John Douglas and Mark Olshaker

John Douglas is widely recognized as one of the earliest criminal profilers. He worked for the FBI for years, and has had a great effect on both the world of crime solving and the world of pop culture. In this book, he collaborates with filmmaker Olshaker to analyze some of history’s most puzzling crimes, using his modern methods of profiling. He’s careful to point out that these are merely his own observations, based on whatever evidence he’s been able to access along with his years of profiling experience.

Douglas goes through some of the best known crimes in recent history–Jack the Ripper, Lizzie Borden, the Black Dahlia murder, the Zodiac Killer, up to the murder of JonBenet Ramsay. He lays out all the available evidence and then tries to understand what the killers might have been like. He makes his case for why he thinks Jack the Ripper never actually wrote the letters that gave him his famous name, why he believes no one but Lizzie Borden could have killed her father and stepmother, what the Zodiac Killer might have been like, and why he doesn’t believe that the Ramsays killed their daughter. Applying new methods to old cases makes for interesting reading, and Douglas explains his reasoning every step of the way, illustrating the process involved in criminal profiling.

It’s a well-written book, though occasionally a bit dry in spots. The author provided specific reasoning for all of his deductions, and at no point did I feel he was stretching too far or making anything up out of thin air. I’d definitely recommend it for true crime enthusiasts (get used to that phrase — it’s the end of the year and I am on a true crime tear!) though it’s a bit graphic and not for the faint-hearted.

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