I’ve fallen down something of a true crime rabbit hole recently. Having watched Mommy Dead and Dearest, The Keepers, The Staircase and more episodes of Forensic Files than I’d have thought imaginable, I picked this up one sleepless night and didn’t stop to put it down until I’d finished just over a day later. I’ve since noticed that a series based on this book will soon be coming to Netflix – October now can’t come soon enough for me.
John Douglas was not only an FBI agent, but the man credited with making psychological profiling what it is today and inspiring works such as Thomas Harris’ Silence of the Lambs. Having been involved in hundreds of cases, Douglas has a wealth of deeply fascinating material to talk about, from catching serial killers to bank robbers, and everything in between. While crediting the many different local law enforcement agencies with the actual catching of the perpetrators, Douglas clearly lays out the facts of each case, how he came to be involved, the profiles he drew up and how he came to those conclusions, as well as the ultimate outcome of the case. Of those that remained unsolved at the time of publication, some of the perpetrators have since been caught – such as Dennis Rader, the BTK killer who was still at large when Douglas retired – which gives us an opportunity to look back with the benefit of hindsight to see if Douglas had indeed been right in his conclusions (which is doubly satisfying, as I find nothing more frustrating than unsolved cases. I want to know that the bastards have been caught, goddammit!)
Written in a clear, concise style that’s incredibly easy to read (even if some of his non-job anecdotes irritated), I found Mindhunter to not only be a real page turner but one that was also strangely helpful as I try to recover from a pretty bad bout of depression. I’ve been off work for nearly two months now, struggling daily to manage my mood or make it out of bed and feeling either tense and anxious or like I have nothing inside me, but this combined with a binge-watch of The Keepers seems to have somehow started to breathe new life into me. The Keepers made me feel such intense fury that it’s almost like it burned some of the depression away, while Mindhunter was so interesting it gave me something other than my shitty feelings to concentrate on (as well as reminding me that, although I feel like shit, I’m alive). This probably all makes me sound like an incredible weirdo who really ought to be avoided, but I’m too grateful to be feeling something other than crappy to care.