Sara's Reviews > The Killer Across the Table: Unlocking the Secrets of Serial Killers and Predators with the FBI’s Original Mindhunter

The Killer Across the Table by John Edward Douglas
Rate this book
Clear rating

's review

really liked it
bookshelves: arc, non-fiction, true-crime

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

The Killer Across The Table is the latest book by John Douglas, pioneer in behavioural sciences at the FBI, and the inspiration behind the character of Holden Ford on Netflix’s Mindhunter. In this latest book he examines four different murderers, ranging in victims and signature, as he delves into their mind and discusses the why, what and how of their crimes.

Douglas always has an interesting way at examining these kinds of criminals, casting a critical look at their past to find their ‘triggers’. As he states, to understand this level of behaviour you need to examine every aspect of their life. They didn’t start to exist the day they came to jail. The writing, as usual, is also good and flows well. John uses a lot of past cases as evidence to support his ideas and the reasons he believes these criminals behave the way they do to great effect. He also never glorifies the criminals, or sensationalises the crimes. Particularly with the first case, which surrounds the death of a child, Joan D’Alessandro, he’s empathetic to the victim and family and shines a light on what the family has done to reduce child murder since her death. He also spends time discussing the great lengths that the family went to ensure the child’s killer remains behind bars. The criminals do not ever come out of Douglas’s books with a good reputation. As they shouldn’t.

I found the section on Joan D’Alessandro and her killer John McGowan the most interesting, and the most well researched. Douglas masterfully dissects McGowan’s behaviour, and the reasons behind the killing, bringing up interviews from his colleagues and neighbours as well as his own time talking to McGowan and other similar killers to discern the real reasons behind why he did what he did. As mentioned, he also touches on the work of Joan’s mother in particular, and demonstrates what a truly inspirational woman she is.

I do think that sometimes he repeats himself quite a lot, rehashing sections of his book ‘Mindhunter’, or repeating comments he’s already made earlier in the book (such as mentioning, twice, that police brought in ‘self-proclaimed experts’ to help solve satanic ritual crimes) which at times I found annoying. However for the most part I found this interesting and insightful. Information is presented here in what I would call an objective way, although with an obvious passion for the subject, that is easy to understand. I also found Douglas’s personality to be less ‘in your face’ than previous novels. Here the criminals and their behaviour take centre stage.

Interesting read, obviously written to coincide with the success of the Netflix show Mindhunter, but worthwhile for fans of true crime and Douglas’s unique insight into criminal behaviour.
22 likes · flag

Sign into Goodreads to see if any of your friends have read The Killer Across the Table.
Sign In »

Reading Progress

April 17, 2019 – Shelved
April 18, 2019 – Started Reading
April 18, 2019 –
April 19, 2019 –
April 20, 2019 –
April 21, 2019 –
April 21, 2019 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-2 of 2 (2 new)

dateDown arrow    newest »

David - proud Gleeman in Branwen's adventuring party Brilliant review, Sara! :)

Sara David - proud Gleeman in Branwen's adventuring party wrote: "Brilliant review, Sara! :)"

Thanks so much! I feel like it lacks some gifs compared to your reviews 😊😊

back to top