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The legendary FBI criminal profiler, number-one New York Times bestselling author, and inspiration for the hit Netflix show Mindhunter delves deep into the lives and crimes of four of the most disturbing and complex predatory killers, offering never-before-revealed details about his profiling process, and divulging the strategies used to crack some of America’s most challenging cases.
The FBI’s pioneer of criminal profiling, former special agent John Douglas, has studied and interviewed many of America’s most notorious killers—including Charles Manson, ”Son of Sam Killer” David Berkowitz and ”BTK Strangler” Dennis Rader—trained FBI agents and investigators around and the world, and helped educate the country about these deadly predators and how they operate, and has become a legend in popular culture, fictionalized in The Silence of the Lambs and the hit television shows Criminal Minds and Mindhunter.
Twenty years after his famous memoir, the man who literally wrote the book on FBI criminal profiling opens his case files once again. In this riveting work of true crime, he spotlights four of the most diabolical criminals he’s confronted, interviewed and learned from. Going deep into each man’s life and crimes, he outlines the factors that led them to murder and how he used his interrogation skills to expose their means, motives, and true evil. Like the hit Netflix show, The Killer Across the Table is centered around Douglas’ unique interrogation and profiling process. With his longtime collaborator Mark Olshaker, Douglas recounts the chilling encounters with these four killers as he experienced them—revealing for the first time his profile methods in detail.
Going step by step through his interviews, Douglas explains how he connects each killer’s crimes to the specific conversation, and contrasts these encounters with those of other deadly criminals to show what he learns from each one. In the process, he returns to other famous cases, killers and interviews that have shaped his career, describing how the knowledge he gained from those exchanges helped prepare him for these.
A glimpse into the mind of a man who has pierced the heart of human darkness, The Killer Across the Table unlocks the ultimate mystery of depravity and the techniques and approaches that have countered evil in the name of justice.
Douglas, a pioneer in profiling serial killers for the FBI, and longtime cowriter Olshaker (The Anatomy of Motive: The FBI's Legendary Mindhunter Explores the Key to Understanding and Catching Violent Criminals) provide an eye-opening and chilling look into the minds of brutal murderers. Douglas and his colleagues had used their experiences talking with killers to develop rigorous interview methods that allowed them "to start correlating the crime to what was actually in the criminal's mind at the time," linking whatever evidence was left behind with the murderer's thoughts, emotions, and motivations. Those methods allowed the agents to add to the study of behavioral profiling by drawing conclusions about what the killers had in common; each offender "grew up without forming trusting bonds with other human beings during their formative years," and their motivations could be characterized as "Manipulation. Domination. Control." Douglas succeeds in taking readers inside his own mind as he worked to understand "four killers confronted" after retiring from the Bureau, using these techniques. In order to make conversations with human monsters such as Joseph Kondro, who raped and murdered the young daughters of people he knew productive and educational, Douglas learned how to think like them. Douglas also explains the vital importance of restraining the "moral outrage" he feels at the horrors his interview subjects admit to, so that he can get them to open up about their motivations and triggers. By again separating fact from fiction, Douglas adds to lay readers' understanding of human evil.