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There are some major inconsistencies, however, that keep it from being a true "5" thriller. For instance, letters are being sent to Mansfield after each of the killings, urging her on. However, when it seems as if one of the killings is a copycat crime, she still gets a letter with the main killer taking credit. A big plot faus pax in an otherwise tightly written medical thriller. The ending is rather overblown, but it works okay, and I guess one can't help but wish Ms. Mansfield well.
The book moves well and the dialogue is terse and believable.
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Unlike "Hot Zone" (mentioned by previous reviewers) this book is non-fiction and written by an expert.
The story provides any would-be epidemiologist with a realistic view of the problems and challenges that are likely to be encountered. (Though it is unlikely that he, or she, would experience this much adventure in one lifetime - Peters is the James Bond of epidemiologists!) When dealing with communities of people with varying cultural and religious beliefs, not all of the challenges are of a scientific nature.
Reading this book is well worth the time - and particularly recommended to young people thinking of entering the field of medicine. There can be more to life as a doctor than cursing HMOs and tracking a swollen stock portfolio!
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This was my first Douglas/Olshaker book. It won't be my last.
I can't remember reading anything since john case's THE GENESIS CODE that rang so absolutely true.
Douglas' time at Quantico permeates every page and each plot twist is presented with such authority...I never doubted the story line at all.
I'll be checking out more Douglas/Olshaker stories and I look forward to more missions by Millicent's mavericks -- the Broken Wings.
If you liked a good action story, well told, with people you'll come to like, read this book!
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The stories he tells makes the book move along at a nice pace and he doesn't drag down the narrative with a lot of technical gibberish. He is quick and to the point. I suppose the credit for this should go to Mr. Olshaker instead.
No matter who is responsible,Mind Hunter is an excellent read that you will find yourself re-reading over and over again.
The book starts off with Douglas' early life, entry into the FBI, and the struggles he endured to get profiling on the map. Then, Douglas procedes in showing the reader how success in famous cases thereafter solidified profiling as a real, if somewhat imperfect, science. Douglas goes case by case, pointing out what he looks for in determining the type of killer responsible, and the clues needed to single out the offender.
If you are interested in profiling, John Douglas will show you how he and others like him have done it for years. Unlike the previous reviewer stated, Douglas DOES show you how a trained professional would profile a criminal, but the reader should not expect to be able to profile someone themselves because it takes years of experience and training. He shows the reader what type of physical and behavioral evidence he looks for when creating a profile. In one chapter, he even decides to take you step by step in detail on how he developed a profile for a killer.
Profiling is a behavioral science technique and while Douglas integrates psychological theory, it does not get at all technical or something that the reader will not understand. Douglas and Olshaker made sure this was a book that anyone could read.
John Douglas covers a lot of cases in this book and while they may not be detailed to every piece of evidence in the case, the book overall succeeds in showing the reader how the cases were solved, a general idea of FBI life, profiling, and the criminal mind.
...And no, as explained in Douglas' books, serial killers or others cannot read this book and come up with a way to get away with murder... an attempt by a killer to use this sort of tactic would just implicate him further by blatent behavioral cues, as explained.
If you like this book, I would definitely recommend any of John Douglas and Mark Olshaker's books.
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Also, I would have liked to see more about how profiles are made, not just the profiles in each case.
All in all it was a good book and I wouldn't mind reading his other books.
The only unfortunate part of the book is Douglas's rehash of the Simpson case (yawn), and his showing us how he'd profile the killer is a big bore.....and it's in here because John Douglas likes to talk about how good he is (and I'm sure he is....but the man has an ego problem).
Aside from that profile, the reading is so scary that I couldn't sleep, and as far as true crime books, that rarely happens to me.
It's an excellent read, and gives some worthy "tips" as far as your own self-preservation, and the safety of your children.
In spite of Douglas himself, I enjoyed this book almost too much. I was afraid to go in front of my windows for days!
Absolutely worth buying and reading...
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"The Cases that Haunt Us" is, for the most part, a work that deserves as much accolade as Douglas and Olshaker's previous books. The historical perspective and fresh evaluative light shed on such classic cases as Jack the Ripper and the Lindbergh kidnapping is fascinating and invaluable. However, upon reading the final chapter, I was left with the nagging feeling that every chapter in the book was a carefully calculated setup to prepare the reader for the final chapter, where Douglas presents his findings and opinions on the JonBenet Ramsey murder case.
I don't fault him for being unobjective. He admits that he was hired by the Ramseys' lawyers to provide his opinions on their possible guilt or innocence. He was not, as is often assumed by the public, hired to provide a profile of the killer (he was never given access to the autopsy reports, crime scene photos, physical evidence, etc., that would be necessary for a true profile). As with his style in the previous chapters, he presents the facts of the case. But his chapter on JonBenet is hopelessly contaminated by his own involvement with the family (none of the other high profile cases in the book involved him personally). The result is a missive that reads like a cross between a rationalization and an apology. Don't get me wrong, Douglas presents his findings in a clear and very logical manner, and I don't disagree with his findings. I just wish for the sake of this book, that he had left the Ramsey case alone and had added some additional historical cases (JFK or MLK Jr assassinations, for instance, or the OJ case) in which he was not personally involved.
Much has been written about the JonBenet Ramsey murder, and I was curious to see Douglas' own conclusions on this case. But by including it in this book, he busted what was easily a 5-star work down to 3 stars.
I almost wish he hadn't included the JonBenet Ramsey case, because I think that takes away from the rest of the book. He could have included some other cases that still "haunt" us, that would be interesting from a historical point of view. I don't think enough time has passed for people to consider the Ramsay case objectively. I am not saying I disagree with his conclusions about the Ramsays, but I don't completely buy them either. If he is ever proved wrong, he will have to eat a ton of crow. Enough said.
Still, I would recommend this book for true crime lovers, historical crime buffs, and anyone with an interest in psychological profilings. I admit freely my favorite TV show is Discovery Channels "The New Detectives." If you have never seen it, and you fall into one of the above categories, you must check this show out.
Which brings me to the last chapter, on JonBenet Ramsey. That chapter read too much like a justification of Douglas's controversial defense of the Ramseys, and less like a profile. After all, he didn't have access to the evidence he would normally use to make a profile, so how could he really decide that the Ramseys are innocent? He measures other theorists with the yardsticks: "people don't act out of character. If they appear to, it is only because you don't understand the character well enough," and "'when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.'" Douglas would do well to measure himself with those yardsticks, too.
In retrospect, the "look and feel" of the beginning chapters of CASES doesn't seem to match the last chapter, and vice versa. Douglas and Olshaker seem to make careful studies of the historic cases, then quickly zoom over decades to Douglas's defense of his position regarding the Ramseys. Only a few references to the earlier murders tie the chapters together. Perhaps...the earlier chapters were included only as a build-up to JonBenet Ramsey. Alternatively, perhaps Douglas and Olshaker were writing a history, then decided to tack on JonBenet Ramsey. Or, maybe they knew that Jack the Ripper and JonBenet Ramsey would sell, and therefore added some cases in between.
That said, the bottom line is that CASES is a slightly disjointed but intriguing book from beginning to end. There's something here for those interested in history, and those interested in current events.
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Throughout his quarter century in the FBI, John gained valuable knowledge. He learned how serial offenders "profile" their potential victims to test their vulnerability. He learned what ruses they employ to lure unsuspecting victims away from areas of safety. And as he graphically illustrates in the tragic stories of Jennifer Levin, Katie Souza Hanley, and Stephanie Schmidt, he learned how sometimes we can unfortunately place our trust in the wrong person, a person who is quite literally "a wolf in sheep's clothing."
So instead of speaking disparagingly about John, we should realise that we have cause to be grateful to him. He has such great insight into the minds of these human demons, and because of his lecturing and writing, he has undoubtedly saved many lives. We should thank him in any way possible - one day his experience and insight might help save our own life or the life of a loved one. He has given us valuable advice about how to keep ourselves and our children safe. He has showed us how we can turn profiling to our own advantage, how we can use it and our own survival instincts to keep ourselves safe. Undoubtedly this type of knowledge is certainly just as important as the knowledge of how to perform adequate, life saving first aid treatment.
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