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Mindhunter: Inside the FBI's Elite Serial Crime Unit
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Mindhunter: Inside the FBI's Elite Serial Crime Unit (Mindhunter #1)

4.04 of 5 stars 4.04  ·  rating details  ·  7,159 ratings  ·  344 reviews
He has hunted some of the most notorious and sadistic criminals of our time: The Trailside Killer in San Francisco, the Atlanta Child murderer. He has confronted, interviewed and researched dozens of serial killers and assassins, including Charles Manson, Richard Speck, John Wayne Gacy, and James Earl Ray - for a landmark study to understand their motives. To get inside th ...more
Paperback, 397 pages
Published August 1st 1996 by Pocket Books (first published January 1st 1988)
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Best True Crime
15th out of 468 books — 738 voters
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I Like Serial Killers
72nd out of 614 books — 936 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Lightreads
So John Douglas is great when he’s talking about serial rape and child murder, and then he’s intensely obnoxious when he’s talking about anything else. So I guess it’s a good thing he mostly talks about rape and murder?

And when I say “John Douglas,” by the way, I mean John Douglas or his co/ghost writer, because who knows who wrote what. All I know is when this book talks about crime, it’s focused and intelligent and compassionate. And when it’s talking about anything else – the FBI, his home li
...more
Alex Hawkey
This book is written buy one of the FBI's top profiles, John Douglas. The man has worked on the cases that are world renowned for being some of the most psychotic killings to date. He has researched killers and rapists, helped police officers catch the most dangerous of criminals, and taught local law enforcement how to pick out the warning signs of chronic offenders and dangerous people. This book tells of his life and how he came to be the man that would one day be the inspiration for Jack Cra ...more
Maureen
Aug 08, 2008 Maureen rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: no one in particular
Recommended to Maureen by: research
Shelves: crime
I must say, this book is a mixed bag. The story of the development of criminal profiling is certainly an interesting one, but I don't believe that Mr. Douglas deserves quite as much credit as he is willing to give himself. He also freely characterizes the killers in this book as monsters. Having worked with a number of this kind of person, I tend to see them more as broken human beings who deserve to be punished. The "monster" epithet implies that society has no responsibility in the way these k ...more
Bob Mayer
I used to think profilers were a bunch of, well, hooey. How did they come up with the profiles? Because a profile is not CSI evidence. It's not lifting a fingerprint. It's assessing a crime and coming up wit the type of person who would do it. Then I read this book years ago and Douglas describes how they formed the Behavioral Science Unit in the FBI. And it made sense. A certain type of person acts a certain type of way. I've since used profiling in my Warrior Writer program since you can profi ...more
Andrew
So after years of being a huge fan of the TV show Criminal minds I decided to begin to read into the real life cases that inspired many of the episodes. I found this book Written by John Douglas who basically started the Behavioural Sciences Unit of the FBI. Found this book really interesting with regards to how the practice came into its own and how it helped in certain cases including; B.T.K, Charles Manson, Ted Bundy to name a few. It also talks about Robert Hansen ( the film Frozen Ground is ...more
Steve Kemp
John Douglas has one hell of an ego on him that is for sure ! He loves to take a lot of credit that is due a different person. Same goes for all of his other books. Usually some good stuff in his books ,but you have to wade through the ocean of bullshit to get to it.
Adam Voyton
My high school psychology teacher told me about this book. I remember he told the class what it was about, but then said that it was much too graphic and mature for high school students to read....so of course I immediately met that challenge and checked it out of the library.

The book is an autobiography of John Douglas. He essentially invented criminal profiling - the ability to analysis the elements of a murder scene and determine the personality and physical characteristics of a killer. Mr.
...more
Nathan
In a recent interview at a Prosecutor's office I was asked what the most recent 'good' book I read was. I said that I was in the middle of this one - and it is fascinating. It is like reading a modern Sherlock Holmes fiction.

This is a biography about an FBI agent to profiles serial killers in an effort to help local police departments focus their search. And in some cases, he vividly describes crime scenes of horror -so be warned!

1) I, apparently, had no idea that there were so many of these bad
...more
Bean Delphiki
If you're deeply fascinated by criminology (and you're curious about the history of profiling), or you're a big fan of John E. Douglas, this book might be worth checking out. If, on the other hand, you're looking for a straightforward presentation of serial offender types and example cases, you're going to want to skip this one.

Douglas clearly fancies himself a bit of a storyteller, but he lacks any sense of drama or poetry that might make the book more readable. Instead, he comes off as a bit f
...more
Brian
This is how Mindhunter works: Douglas tells us about a crime, like a young girl who was raped and left for dead or a twenty-something who was murdered and tied up in an odd position in line with some odd ritualistic fantasy. From that he explains how he profiled the suspect: usually it's a male in his late twenties to early thirties who dresses scruffily and has next to no social skills. Finally, he relays how he went about catching said suspect.

The book is repetitive in this nature, but might
...more
Rebecca
Jul 17, 2009 Rebecca rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Rebecca by: Sheila
Shelves: reference-books
As someone who's a huge fan of shows like Criminal Minds and books like Silence of the Lambs, I was very excited to get my hands on a book that dealt with the nonfiction, more scientific aspect of serial killers and their psyches. I was also very pleased to find that the books and shows I've enjoyed so much are also somewhat accurate; that makes me enjoy them even more.

John Douglas, or his co-writer, did an excellent job keeping a very complicated topic accessible for the rest of us. His own sen
...more
Alex_k
Turns out that most serial killers are rather predictable and not very interesting. Once you've disassembled the minds of a dozen, you've cracked 95% of them. But it took lots of effort to have that dozen figured out. John Douglas was not the first criminal profiler in history, but he successfully worked to integrate criminal profiling into the FBI's criminal investigations.

As another reviewer said, the book is somewhat repetitive but to me it's a sign it's true to life: serial murderers may thi
...more
Chriss
When the concept of criminal profiling became part of every evening newscast, it was obvious that it was more than just luck and good guessing on someone's part. I, like many interested folk wanted to know what this new concept was so I read John Douglas's book. I was captivated while reading each case and could understand how the emotional toll of what he was working with could play havoc the way it did. But the graphic descriptions lose their intensity when you start looking at the clues from ...more
Lauren
If I hadn't read two books about serial killers back-to-back, I might have enjoyed this more.

But probably not.

The writing style was the first thing to really annoy me, and I'm not sure whether to fault Douglas or his co-writer for that. i imagine the casual, storyteller tone was done intensionally, but I have no idea what it was meant to accomplish. However, I now completely subscribe to the theory that the character of Jason Gideon was based on John Douglas. Both are pretty damn full of themsel
...more
Bob
Interesting, but at times frustrating because this book tries to be both a book about how an FBI Profiler is created and a book about the cases the profiler handled. In trying to be both, it often is neither.

At times it is very interesting and worthy of 4 stars, or more? However, the recurring act of patting himself on the back resulted in the loss of 1/2 star from me, and probably a rotator cuff injury from himself. I also could have done with a bit less of his personal story, which cost him an
...more
Abby
This was the first of the John Douglas works that I'd read.
I would say read this book in daylight. (I have a desperate fear of reading this one in the dark. {Maybe I'm just lame}) I wouldn't suggest (like a mouldy old joke states) reading this in the Police Station.
But, it is well written. Actually, I felt as though we were in his study/library, and he was telling me about his career and the serial killers he'd either interviewed or caught.
What did I learn from this book: There are no signs att
...more
Jacki Donnelly
This was an okay read. I was expecting cases out of today and instead was disappointed everything was based on things from the 1970's to 1980's. I expected a more recent read....
Jamin Parker
Mindhunter, by john douglas is a great book. The john douglas is one of the most famous pioneers in criminal profiling. In this book he tell's all about some his most astonishing and compelling serial killer cases that he has worked on. joun douglas is an expert on profiling serial killers.In the book he tells how aside from the phisical evidance he looks for the behavior of the crime senes. amazingly he can tell a great amout about the person/unknown subject by studing the behavior of his crime ...more
Beej
Mindhunter is strikingly written. Starting off with an insight into John's traumatising experience he had due to viral encephalitis, it instantly stands to show the devistating effect of his job on his mental and physical health.

John details the cases he worked, the people he worked with, and how he got to that point. He lists instances in school which lead to trouble with authority, and the choices he made which lead to his gradual rise to head of the BSU.

I came to this book as a fan of Paul Br
...more
Steve
This guy really thinks a lot of himself. He does share some of the limelight and the cases are interesting but he can never decide whether he's writing a history of the BSU in the FBI, his own memoirs, or just patting himself on the back. Still, it's a good read and is probably a good idea for those interested in becoming Profilers to read this as it does give the grimy underbelly of how crimes like these get solved - or did until 2000.
Amy
This was an intense book, but an illuminating, interesting, and ultimately valuable one. This is not a book to read if you have a weak stomach, however.

John Douglas is a bit a legend, and seeing the process behind the formation of VICAP and the development of the tool of profiling is interesting from a historical perspective. Douglas provided a great gift to society by developing his method and cracking open the cases in the book. I appreciate his perspective on parole boards, psychiatry, and th
...more
Kim
Profiling is so interesting to me. This guy sounds like a real jerk but an interesting and intelligent one. Supposedly the investigator in Silence of the Lambs is loosely based on Douglas. A fascinating semi-science.
Melissa Floyd


The book was good minus the fact that the first 5-6 chapters were about himself. Talk about your narcissistic type. Once he started discussing profiling it was a good read.
Patrick
Robert Ressler's books are better. Douglas is a bit too full of himself. Regardless of which, it's talks a lot about behaviorial sciences and even has a case from Wilkes-Barre.
Sarah
John Douglas is an excellent author. I read a ton of true crime, and although this book contains interviews with serial killers and revolves around solving cases there is much more to this one. This book is educational to anyone interested in the field of criminal profiling or behavioral science/psychology. Douglas is the man who created many terms we are used to hearing regarding crimes such as "signature" and it's difference from the motis operandi. His career is stunning, and his accomplishme ...more
Cori
Interesting at parts, but John Douglas is so incredibly obnoxious and arrogant that it makes enjoying this book nearly impossible.
Betsy Ashton
John Douglas has written a reference book that belongs on the desk of any crime writer. Even though not every writer discusses the FBI's serial crime or the behavioral analysis units, this study into the mind of criminals opens endless possibilities for topics while at the same time reinforces the effort these brave agents go through to solve some of the most bizarre crimes. The model for Jack Crawford in The Silence of the Lambs, Douglas detailed profiles, habits and next moves to give law enfo ...more
Laura
Fascinating hard look at the FBI's criminal profiling and elite serial crime unit by one of the people who first started the ball rolling. Couldn't put it down and have several more of Mr. Douglas' books lined up to read. These people do wondrous work and we owe them much, keeping us safe from those who wish to harm with intelligence, attention to detail and highly developed tools and methods.

This isn't "The Silence of the Lambs" - this is REAL. (Though Mr. Douglas was who Scott Glenn's portraya
...more
Jim George
I'm not really a True Crime kind of a guy. Give me a Lucas Davenport, Alex Cross, or Kay Scarpaletto, and I'm okay - Fiction! But real life stuff creeps me out! Disturbing to have these morbid serial killer cases looped into the memories of my brain. I salute these FBI people, their sacrifice is commendable, and obviously someone has to protect the innocent. The author summed up his feelings on crime rather nicely on the last page; Crime is a moral problem that can only be resolved at a moral le ...more
Koby Bryan
This was a fantastic book. What i liked about it most was the plain-speaking, straightforward way it was written. The crimes listed were horrible, and the clinical way they were described, as well as the authors opinions upon them did without drama. A good move in my opinion. Towards the end of the book one of the gems was that John Douglas stated that the FBI used behavior and actions as a way of getting to know the subjects and their likelihood to commit crimes again "if you wan to understand ...more
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John Edward Douglas is a former United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agent, one of the first criminal profilers, and criminal psychology author. He also wrote four horror novels in the mid 1990s.

-Wikipedia
More about John E. Douglas...

Other Books in the Series

Mindhunter (2 books)
  • Journey Into Darkness
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“[Talking about Monte Rissell] ...and like Ed Kemper he was able to convince the psychiatrist he was making excellent progress while he was actually killing human beings. This is kind of a sick version of the old joke about how many psychiatrists it takes to change a light bulb. The answer being, just one, but only if the light bulb wants to change.” 3 likes
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