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The Cases That Haunt Us
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The Cases That Haunt Us

3.98 of 5 stars 3.98  ·  rating details  ·  5,403 ratings  ·  176 reviews
Violent. Provocative. Shocking.
Call them what you will...but don't call them open and shut.
Did Lizzie Borden murder her own father and stepmother? Was Jack the Ripper actually the Duke of Clarence? Who killed JonBenet Ramsey? America's foremost expert on criminal profiling and twenty-five-year FBI veteran John Douglas, along with author and filmmaker Mark Olshaker, exp
Paperback, 512 pages
Published December 1st 2001 by Pocket Books (first published January 1st 2000)
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I have always enjoyed reading books by the famous FBI profiler John Douglas and this book certainly didn't disappoint. Douglas reviews several famous cases, gives his views on them and then profiles several killers who were never caught including Jack the Ripper. Others included the Zodiac Killer and the Lizzie Borden ax murders. (view spoiler) ...more
Beth Zovko
Douglas is one of the first criminal profilers in the country--and he lets you know it. He should have called this one "The Me Me That Me Me." This book is full of statements like "I flew across the country (at my own expense--I had since refused any and all payment for my services) to interview so and so. . " It starts out well, but soon devolves into Douglas patting himself on the back and talking over your head.
☆ Ruth ☆
A very interesting book, with enough information and tantalizing clues to stimulate any armchair detective. My second time of reading, and I find it just as fascinating as the first time around.
Lee Anne
I don't read true crime like I used to, because I'm older, I have a kid, and reading about sex murders isn't fun any more, and thanks to C.S.I. crap, everybody thinks forensics is cool, and that makes it less cool. But I've read all of John Douglas' books (except the Unabomber one--yawn, and the novel, because who cares?), and this has been in my "to read" pile for years, and I thought it would be a creepy Halloween season read.

John Douglas is the inspiration for the Scott Glenn character in Sil
Mike (the Paladin)
I read this some time ago...after my "true crime" period. Occasionally something will click and I'll look up a book on a given subject. Douglas was an FBI Special Agent and one of the earliest criminal profilers.

Here he takes a look at several "interesting" high profile cases from the past and (the book's) present. The Zodiac Killer (a case never solved), The Black Dalia (also never solved), Bambi Bembenek (accused of murder, escaped, recaptured and awarded a new trial. She finally agreed to pl
I would have given this book four stars, but for one reason. The chapter on the Zodiac Killer. What a total let down. I'm an armchair detective, and I've read a lot on the Zodiac... so I read through that chapter, anxiously waiting to see who John Douglas would finger as the most likely suspect. He goes through all of the important case details, and then, at the very end of the chapter, he references Arthur Leigh Allen (w/out ever using his name) and says, more or less, here was a guy that maybe ...more
True crime books are like crack cocaine for me, and this one was no different. I read it fairly compulsively over three days, and was generally satisfied at the end. I felt like his treatment of the Jack the Ripper case was really thorough and illuminating, as were his chapters on the Lindbergh kidnapping and Lizzie Borden. Things started to fall apart for me after that, with a lot of the material feeling like filler to bridge to his chapter on the Ramsey case, which is obviously a personal pass ...more
Saw this book referenced in another that I read, and picked it up at the library since I absolutely love true crime mysteries.

I'm not certain what I expected exactly, but wasn't really impressed with most of the author's analysis of well-known crimes. Once I got to the last case/chapter, I got the feeling that the entire book was written just so that the author, who consulted with the Ramsey attorneys, could justify and re-argue his case for making the decisions that he made on the JonBenet Rams
Aleisha Z Coleman
From what I understand John Douglas is one of the first FBI behavior profilers for murderers. He is one of the reasons we have the TV shows like Criminal Minds, Psych, The Profiler etc. Like the rest of the world, I am fascinated with behavior and the accompany reasons of what it takes for "normal" people to get involved in tragic events such as murder. There but for the grace of God go most of us, pray hard that most of us never have to to be involved in something so ugly. This book analyzes so ...more
I enjoyed this, but the author irritated the hell out of me so I can't give it any higher than 2.5 stars.. For one, I believe he should have left out the Ramsey case because he's clearly biased and not playing fair with the reader. Second, he has a fat head, if Douglas could downsize his ego and stop mentioning all of his accomplishments every other paragraph it would make much easier reading!

That said, I did like this book. I loved the variety of the cases and that different perspectives were
Liza Nikitas
i flew through this book - really enjoyed. i think i had a past life as a forensics expert or something, this stuff really fascinates me. i wanted to read it mostly for the piece on the jonbenet ramsey case but found the others almost as interesting (jack the ripper, lindbergh baby kidnapping, lizzie borden, etc). the author's arrogance comes through a bit too much, but hey, if i had his credentials i think i'd be arrogant too.
I won't deny this book was fascinating, but I didn't enjoy it as much as I wanted to. As some reviewers have mentioned before me, John Douglas appears to be somewhat of a narcissist. He's not afraid to point out how wonderful and intelligent he thinks he is. That got on my nerves.

What bothered me more though, was that I didn't feel completely convinced or impressed with the conclusions, sometimes it felt like a speeddate between Clue and a criminal profiler. I don't know how much time was spent
John E Douglas features the following cases in this book. These are the chapter titles, in American Dreams/American Nightmares he covers the three cases listed.
Jack the Ripper
Lizzie Borden
The Lindbergh Kidnapping
The Zodiac
American Dreams/American Nightmares
"The Black Dahlia" Elizabeth Short
"Lawrencia Bembenek" 'Bambi'
'The "Boston Strangler" Albert Henry DeSalvo

The Jon Benet Ramsey Murder

Although I 'know' all these cases, I have not done much reading on them. I prefer to read about less known ca
I have a fascination with unsolved or questionably solved crimes, ever since I did a research paper on the Lindburgh kidnapping in high school. That case is here, along with seven others. I really liked that the author of this book, an FBI-trained criminal profiler, presented the facts and then used his knowledge of "killer" personalities to give his opinions on the different suspects presented, but still leaves the reader to draw your own conclusions. I have read quite a bit about Jack the Ripp ...more
Candy to a true crime junkie like me, this book is written with authority by someone who knows his stuff and can lend insight to some of history's most famous murderers who were never brought to justice. The writing is descriptive and provides alluring details without bogging down the reader. Some quirks of Douglas' bothered me (faux humility, his use of "pathetic") but it is easy to filter with the fascinating topics at hand. The Zodiac case is my favourite so I enjoyed that chapter, but I find ...more
I've read a lot of true crime, and this is one of the best. FBI guru John Douglas analyzes the case files of a series of famous unsolved murder cases, from Jack the Ripper to the Zodiac to JonBenet, and offers his own "profiles" of the perpetrators, blasting through much of the received thinking on the subject. Don't get me started on the flaws of profiling (which has done a fair share of damage on the "received thinking" front), but this is a fascinating book, probably because the cases are tre ...more
I had to snort a little while I was reading because there is an almost comical degree of false modesty and braggadocio that comes across from John Douglas in his books, but hell, I wouldn't ever argue that he doesn't know his shit. These are interesting, clear-headed, and concise examinations of really interesting criminal cases, and I think he's dead-on for the most part in his analyses of the historical instances here, though his look at the JonBenet mystery is less successful, and I don't thi ...more
John E. Douglas never disappoints me, though I must say that the chapter on the Zodiac was a little bit weak.
I really liked this book but it's definitely not for everyone. Very graphic and disturbing, it reviews unsolved murder cases. The author is basically the father of criminal profiling. Very violent. Douglas profiles famous unsolved mysteries including Jack the Ripper, Lindbergh kidnapping, Lizzie Borden case, & Jon Benet Ramsey.
Eduard Kutscher
I've read 3 books from John Douglas so far and this one is the worst.

On one side there is the attractive idea of unsolved and well-known criminal cases, but on the other side there is the problem that you will not know who was / is the murderer. So you are not able to find out if Douglas's logic, what he is writing is correct. And that's the biggest deficit of this book.

I personally enjoyed the descriptions of the cases, but I really missed the information who did it. Of course that's exactly
This book looked interesting to me when I saw it at a used book store. It was written by John Douglas, an FBI profiler who, according to his narrative, was one of the founders of the FBI's famous profiling team, the same team that is highlighted on the hit TV series "Criminal Minds." The man obviously knows what he is talking about when it comes to psychotic killers. In this book, he also fills in the reader on the psychotic mind.

Douglas takes the reader through some of the most famous unsolved
Christ almighty, I miss this book. I wouldn't recommended it someone looking for an objective angle, though. John E. Douglas spend as much time (or more) referring to his experience in the FBI and sharing his own theories as he does actually describing the cases. The upside is that I found him insanely good at creating a vivid atmosphere in his retellings. Despite how old or fragmented the cases are, it really does feel like they're happening right in front of you. It's a decent book, full of go ...more
Mary Frances
Yuk. A waste of time. Superficial, badly written, "author"a pompous self-promoting windbag, co-author apparently unable to see the train wreck coming and control his partner. If I had not needed to finish in order to meet my goal for the year, this would have been an abandoned book.
The good thing about an Oyster subscription is one can pick up and try a book without extra cost, thus making in easier to try an unknown author without risk The bad thing is the same. I've found some real stinkers o
I'm really torn about what rating to give this book. I don't want to give it 4 stars, but I didn't find this near as interesting as his book "Mindhunter." I did like the idea of John Douglas giving his thoughts & the facts about some of most prolific cases, but there were several times I just wanted to give up on this book. I don't really know what I expected to find out, but "Mindhunter" was more about profiling & who the killers were & since this book was more about who might have ...more
3.5 stars

Maybe it's because I read most of the book in two sittings (hey, I'm on Christmas break and can finally finish my Goodreads challenge!), but I really feel like last part of this book is weaker than the rest. The author (who apparently pretty much invented criminal profiling) covers a variety of famous crime cases from history (Jack the Ripper, Lizzie Borden, the Lindbergh Kidnapping, etc.) and explains how he might have gone about advising authorities if the crimes occurred today. He al
In The Cases That Haunt Us, former FBI profiler John Douglas – along with his frequent collaborator writer-filmmaker Mark Olshaker - examines some of the prevailing mysteries of the last century and a half. In-depth chapters on Jack the Ripper, Lizzie Borden, the Lindbergh Kidnapping, and the Zodiac intrigue and bring interesting facts to light – including the naming of a suspect in the Ripper case. Lesser sections, collected in a chapter called American Dreams/American Nightmares, bring the foc ...more
Steven Belanger
One of my all-time favorite books, and definitely not for the squeamish. The authors cover--in unbelievably great detail and depth--the crimes, aftereffects, motives, evidence and suspects involved in the periphery of the Jack the Ripper killings in Whitechapel in 1888, the Jonbenet Ramsay trial, the Lizzie Borden case, the Zodiac Killer, The Black Dahlia (see the James Ellroy novel of the same name) and a few others. The writing about these cases is inspired, impressive, thorough and intense. T ...more
"Jack the Ripper, Lizzie Borden, and the Lindbergh kidnapping… Douglas has a few surprise conclusions in his modern analysis of these gripping crimes. By applying criminal personality profiling techniques he developed while stalking more current killers, Douglas provides a fresh, sage outlook on some disturbing history. He also sheds new light on San Francisco's Zodiac Killer, the Black Dahlia murder, Bambi Bembenek, the Boston Strangler, and the continuing mystery of who killed 6-year-old JonB ...more
You do not know what you think you know.

I thought that I had some reasonable knowledge of the Lindbergh baby kidnapping, the theories on Jack the Ripper, and Lizze Borden, but I did not. Although the JonBenet Ramsey case happened when I was reasonably young, I read enough of it to think I knew how it had happened. And I watched the movie Zodiac, so how could I not understand it?

Going back to dig through the facts of these cases, and a few others, was quite a revelation as to how much we think we
I *so* wanted to love this book--I'm a fan of crime reporting / true crime, to the extent that I buy The Best American Crime Reporting anthology every year (and have bought books by the included authors as a result, most notably The Man Who Loved Books Too Much).

That said, I have to note that one of the virtues of the book becomes one of its vices: the care taken by the author to focus carefully on matters of evidence and, as a result, avoiding wild speculation. The result, predictably, is that
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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.

More about John E. Douglas...
Mindhunter: Inside the FBI's Elite Serial Crime Unit The Anatomy of Motive: The FBI's Legendary Mindhunter Explores the Key to Understanding and Catching Violent Criminals Journey Into Darkness Obsession Inside the Mind of BTK: The True Story Behind the Thirty-Year Hunt for the Notorious Wichita Serial Killer

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“I've come out many times publicly in support of the death penalty. I've stated that I'd be more than willing personally to pull the switch on some of the monsters I've hunted in my career with the FBI. But Bruno Hauptmann just doesn't fit into this category -- the evidence just wasn't, and isn't, there to have confidently sent him to the electric chair. To impose the one sentence for which there is no retroactive correction requires a far higher standard of proof than was seen here. Blaming him for the entire crime was, to my mind, an expedient and simpleminded solution to a private horror that had become a national obsession.” 5 likes
“had been ripped open, and her intestines” 0 likes
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