I surprised myself a few years ago by absolutely loving the Mindhunter Netflix series, which was (very loosely) based on this book by John Douglas and Mark Olshaker. I'm not usually a fan of the gory and gruesome, and though I love a murder mystery, I'm definitely drawn to the cosy end of the spectrum. But Mindhunter fascinated me, not just with its pitch perfect 70s setting, but with its psychological depth. 

John Douglas was one of the first FBI agents to help develop the 'dark art' of psychological profiling, using the behaviour of serial murderers to pin down their identity. From the nature of the attack ('blitz', carefully planned, opportunistic), the kind of victim chosen, the treatment of the body, the scene of the crime -- all these elements provide clues about the kind of person they are dealing with. But the profilers also work out the best approach to interviewing their suspects, and the best way to trap them. Though the accounts of the murders themselves are horrifying, the care and dedication of the FBI agents is truly impressive, and eventually overcame the resistence of old-school law enforcement to this 'voodoo' approach. It still stuns me that police departments in the US are so parochial and compartmentalised, making the sharing of information across county or state lines so difficult!

This edition of Mindhunter comes with a new introduction, written twenty years after the book's first publication, in which Douglas admits some of the mistakes they made and developments in their thinking. Such honesty is refreshing, and I can understand why an author like Ellie Marney has used this as one of her primary research sources in writing her own terrific thrillers.

No comments:

Post a Comment