11/30 Book Review: The Profiler


The Profiler: My Life Hunting Serial Killers and Psychopaths
Pat Brown & Bob Andelman
Nonfiction

Summary

In 1990, a young woman was strangled on a jogging path near the home of Pat Brown and her family. Brown suspected the young man who was renting a room in her house, and quickly uncovered strong evidence that pointed to him–but the police dismissed her as merely a housewife with an overactive imagination. It would be six years before her former boarder would be brought in for questioning, but the night Brown took action to solve the murder was the beginningof her life’s work. Pat Brown is now one of the nation’s few female criminal profilers–a sleuth who assists police departments and victims’ families by analyzing both physical and behavioral evidence to make the most scientific determination possible about who committed a crime. Brown has analyzed many dozens of seemingly hopeless cases and brought new investigative avenues to light. In The Profiler, Brown opens her case files to take readers behind the scenes of bizarre sex crimes, domestic murders, and mysterious deaths, going face-to-face with killers, rapists, and brutalized victims. It’s a rare, up-close, first-person look at the real world of police and profilers as they investigate crimes–the good and bad, the cover-ups and the successes.

Morbid Curiosity

First, as someone mildly obsessed with extreme killers and unusual psychology, I find profiling to be a fascinating field. However, I’ve seen criminal profiling only in TV shows, which are always questionably accurate. So I was pretty excited to see this account from a female profiler.

And then I discovered that one of the most interesting things about this book is Pat’s transition from a classic housewife to a professional profiler. To be honest, that level of transition seems believable only in fiction!

Pat’s life as a profiler is quite different from what you see on TV. For one, she’s not employed by an organization. She’s a freelance profiler, often hired by victim’s families. And, disappointingly, most of the cases presented in this book remain unsolved.

Perhaps most clearly, this book is a reminder of how quickly things can devolve in our criminal justice system. Police often don’t have the training or time to delve into an individual case the way a profiler might. And cases are sometimes misdirected or ignored because of politics.

Conclusion

Interesting look at criminals and the frustrating cases we rarely hear about it. If you’re dazzled by TV profiling, this book is a useful wake-up call.

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