The Killer Across the Table

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Member Reviews

In The Killer Across the Table, legendary FBI criminal profiler and number one bestselling author John Douglas delves deep into the lives and crimes of four of the most disturbing and complex predatory killers he’s encountered, offering never-before-revealed details about his profiling process and divulging the strategies used to crack some of his most challenging cases.
Former Special Agent John Douglas has sat across the table from many of the world’s most notorious killers – including Charles Manson, Jeffrey Dahmer, ‘Coed Killer’ Edmund Kemper, ‘Son of Sam Killer’ David Berkowitz and ‘BTK Strangler’ Dennis Rader, and has also been instrumental in the exoneration of Amanda Knox and the West Memphis Three. He has gone on to become a legend in the world of criminal investigative analysis, and his work has inspired TV shows and films such as Mindhunter, Criminal Minds and The Silence of the Lambs.
In this riveting work of true crime, Douglas spotlights four very different criminals he’s confronted over the course of his career, and explains how they helped him to put together the puzzle of how psychopaths and predators think. Taking us inside the interrogation room and demonstrating the unique techniques he uses to understand the workings of the most terrifying and incomprehensible minds, The Killer Across the Table is an unputdownable journey into the darkest reaches of criminal profiling and behavioural science from a man who knows serial killers better than anyone else. As Douglas says:
‘If you want to understand the artist, look at his art.’
If you want to understand what makes a murderer, start here.

This is a brilliant read.
Wonderful well written novel that just engages you from the very start.
This really takes you into the mind of the killers and shows you more than you could ever imagine.
I find it interesting and horrifying at the same time reading things like these.
You have to look past the crimes and not dwell on them and focus on the read about the mind.
Recommend reading.

I was provided an ARC from NetGalley and the publisher.  This is my own honest voluntary review.
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In ‘The Killer Across the Table’ FBI profiler John E. Douglas's takes an in-depth look at four of his most prolific cases, and the killers behind them through a mixture of background research, media coverage and personal interviews in an attempt to explain the how, what and why of their crimes.

I don’t really know how to describe my feelings about this book, other than to say that it was equally fascinating and harrowing to read. As a crime fiction fan, I was interested to learn about some real-life serial killers, and after being completely gripped by the Netflix series Mindhunter I knew that this would be an interesting read. What I didn’t expect was how difficult I would find it to hear the details of the murders and especially about the impact the crimes had on the victims’ families. The first section of the book which focusses on the murder of seven-year-old Joan Angela D’Alessandro was probably the hardest to get through. However, despite it being a tough story to read, it was written with a lot of sensitivity and also brought attention to her family who have worked tirelessly to raise awareness and make changes to laws protecting children in Joan’s memory. 

This was a heavy read and definitely not for the faint hearted but it detailed four fascinating stories and I honestly don't think I will read a better book this year.
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I am a huge fan of true crime and was so excited to receive a copy of this book.

I loved mindhunter and the FBI profiler reveals secrets and literally sent shivers down my spine.

I cannot recommend this book enough for true crime lovers!
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I requested this on a whim as I'd enjoyed Mindhunter on Netflix and wanted to check whether I enjoyed the style before buying the first book. As it turns out there was no need to read that first as this was very engaging and accessible. I really liked the focus around 4 cases and the linking of other anecdotes within the context of those 4. Overall this is a very readable book, with great flow and clever use of diversions.
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One of the best books I have read by John Douglas and Mark Olshaker.. Douglas drills down into the killers psyches and analyses motives with stunning clarity. A must for true crime lovers. Highly recommended.
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I couldn't get into this book as the descriptions of the crimes were too jarring and almost salacious. This surprised me as I am not averse to True Crime, and enjoyed the Mindhunter series, but I just couldn't warm to the author's style.
My Amazon review will say for fans of True Crime who don't mind the details of sexual crimes (3 stars).
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Thanks firstly to NetGalley for letting me have a copy of this in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

This was interesting and well written, but the overlap with John E. Douglas' previous books is inevitable. This doesn't cover the crimes, instead focusing on the mindset behind them.

While I enjoyed it, this was a little too repetitive for me.
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I've read some of Douglas's books before and this one was similar. Sometimes a little heavy-going, sometimes the author liked to discuss his accomplishments too much, but generally an interesting read.
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This is a great book for anyone interested in true crime. It is less about the crimes themselves, although Douglas does talk about them in detail, but it is about the minds of the killers. Why they did what they did. I haven't watched the TV show Mindhunter, but I have read the book, and it's about the same kinds of profiling. I noticed that there was some overlap with Mindhunter (the book), with Douglas talking about old cases, but the four main cases in the book are new subject matter so it's definitely still a great read.

The subject matter is disturbing, obviously. Douglas does talk in detail about the murders and assaults, so it's probably not a book for anyone who finds that kind of thing especially upsetting. But for most people interested in true crime it shouldn't be a problem. And Douglas actually approaches the subject with more respect than some true crime writers. You can tell that he is disgusted by what the killers have done, even when he has to pretend not to be in interviews with them. His goal is to understand them, so that he can stop killers like them. It's a lot less of a spectacle than some true crime. In my opinion this is a good thing.

 The book can be a bit rambly at times, but on the whole it's a good book. It is a brilliant insight both into the minds of killers, and into the mechanics of profiling.
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Thanks to 4th Estate and William Collins and NetGalley for allowing me to review a copy of this book. 

I’m a big true crime fan and have read Mindhunter and watched the Netflix series. 

Despite the horrendous crimes, this book is surprisingly readable and gripping. It’s very well researched and interesting. 

It focuses on a few cases and explores them in depth, it isn’t confusing and gives it a good structure. 

If you’re interested in true crime then this book is a must read!
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The writing of the book is very good and Jonathan Groff's narration of the audiobook is fantastic, I could listen to him for hours. The crimes themselves weren't what I was expecting, so I wasn't as gripped as I'd hoped I would be. I also cringed at the mentions of Mindhunter the TV series, maybe it's just me but that really affected my enjoyment of the book. Overall, a pretty decent book.
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It’s difficult to review he actual writing itself of books like these because for the most part so long as it’s clear and I follow it then I don’t pay attention to the language used because that’s not why I’m reading this kind of book, right? It was clear and concise and unremarkably good, which I think is what works best with these sort of subjects. That being said, a few times I felt like I was going crazy as if I had heard it all before and then realised I had. The repetition from Mindhunter (the book) often made things a little duller, and the cases chosen here weren’t always as exciting for me as they were in Mindhunter (also the book).
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I'm a big fan of the Netflix series Mindhunter but I struggled a little with the book it was based on. However, I much preferred their latest offering The Killer Across The Table. This is split into four sections with each focusing on an offender that Douglas has interviewed since leaving his behavioural science role in the FBI, either acting as consultant to parole boards wishing to determine the future dangerousness of a perpetrator or when filming a true crime documentary.  

As in Mindhunter, and Douglas's career, the continuing and overarching idea is to use criminal profiling to establish how and why serial offenders commit horrific crimes. If law enforcement understand the motivations involved then it may increase the chances of catching and stopping criminals. It turns out that while these killers have characteristics in common there are always cases that throw up unique information and insights.  

Douglas discusses the techniques he uses to encourage killers to open up and share their experiences. He does interleave each section's primary subject with references to many other cases he's worked on which some people may find distracting but I liked the chance to compare scenarios and find patterns of behaviour.

The tiny quibble I had is with Douglas's conviction that most/all of the serial killers he comes into contact with have no chance of rehabilitation because they've never been habilitated in the first place. While this is likely to be true (he's the expert) it did shock and sadden me to think he sees no hope of changing deviant attitudes and behaviours unless caught very early on, and that the only answer is lifelong incarceration.
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The Killer Across the Table is a facinating look into the minds of  4 serial killers and how John  Douglas looks at them and profiles their psychopathic minds. 

I really enjoy reading true crime books and this one was one I didnt want to put down. Its very intersting and well written. 

Thanks to Netgalley and William Collins for the ARC. My Review is my own opinion.
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This was such an amazing read that I couldn’t put it down. It went everywhere with me. To the doctors office, the dentist, the eye doctor. IT WENT ABSOLUTELY EVERYWHERE. I was so sad when it ended that I immediately went and bought more books from this author!
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Thanks to NetGalley for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

If you enjoyed ‘Mindhunter’ you will certainly enjoy this book. Unlike ‘Mindhunter’, however, this book shows how the profiling tools developed in the early years of the Behavioural Science Unit are used to categorise known serial killers. Douglas, despite the subtlety and complexity of his craft, provides the layman reader with  a perceptible window into the often rotten soul of the serial killer. As he shows us, however, what makes these men ‘tick’ often vary from killer to killer. Taking four case studies of killers; interspersed with vignettes of other more known serial killers like Gacy, Bundy et al., Douglas walks us, stage-by-stage through the profiling process. This was particularly illuminating in that it exploded some of my own preconceptions about serial killers. For example, all killings of children with a sexual element are paedophilic and all serial killers target strangers to avoid detection.

If you want to understand more about the workings of these inhuman humans then this is the book for you.
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Thanks to William Collins and NetGalley for the Advance Review Copy in exchange for an honest review.

I mean of course this book is going to be interesting, it's about true crime...but something about it just jarred with me. I didn't feel like I was reading anything I hadn't read before and something about the author just really rubbed me the wrong way. He just seemed really...smug. I have since learned that he is the inspiration for Holden on Netflix's Mindhunter... no wonder Tench is always so annoyed with him.

I can't say there is anything wrong with this book because there really isn't, I just couldn't reconcile myself with the writer.
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John Douglas is an engaging writer, and this book about what makes particular serial killers tick was interesting, and gave some interesting insights into the motivations of the killers, and the things in their past that put them on their path. However, I did feel like Douglas wasn't really offering new insights with this book, even though the cases were new, none of the profiles were of really complex people, like his earlier books. Yet, if you're a true crime completist, and holding out hope that you can will yourself into the FBI (a job I wanted SO badly as a thirteen year old X Files fan), it's definitely worth reading.
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Thanks go to NetGalley, the publisher and the authors for the ARC which was given in order for me to publish this unbiased review.

The authors take a close look at four predatory killers while detailing the profiling process and strategies used to unlock the minds f some of the country’s most notorious killers. Having not read or seen the adjoining show Mindhunter before this book it was an entirely new experience for me. 

 John Douglas once worked with the FBI and in this book has attempted to go deep into the life and crimes of 4 of the most infamous killers in the US. He tries to uncover the factors that led them to murder and how he used his interrogation skills to expose their means, motives, and true evil. Douglas recounts his encounters with these four killers—revealing for the first time his profile methods in detail.

Each of the 4 major chapters, profiles one killer in detail. It gives a brief profile of the killers and the crimes they have committed. He then goes, step by step, through his interviews and connects each killer’s crimes to a ‘trigger’, and contrasts these encounters with those of other deadly criminals to show what he learns from each one. He also uses the knowledge he gained from other famous cases, killers and interviews that have helped him deconstruct these killers. As a Warning, the crimes committed by each killer are really gruesome and the details are truly disturbing to read.

Having read many books from the ‘True Crime’ genre, this book is unlike any other I have read so far. Douglas’s insights into the minds of the killers are completely unparalleled. In a way, he guides the readers through the complex labyrinth of the human mind to understand what true evil looks like.

While the book covers only 4 cases, each of these four cases is truly unique in nature. 
Having said that, the narrator has a habit of going back to old cases, to make a finer point, which gets confusing at times. If you are looking for something on the lines of unsolved cases or ‘crime-solving’, this book may not be for you. This book is more about personalities, of both the criminals and Douglas interviewing them. 

Overall The Killer Across the Table is a well-written and insightful look into the mind of murderers. It is a book which goes beyond the sensational narration of crimes and focuses more on the criminal psyche and the book is a great way to understand the true origin of some of the despicable criminal acts. This is a recommended read for anyone interested in crime, criminal profiling, and psychology
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John E. Douglas is such a respectable name when it comes to crime and his way of telling the harrowing tales of killers he's sat across from is so profound. The whole book was captivating, there were moments when I couldn't put it down.

I did like that I hadn't heard of two of the killers, so it was a balanced book. Even though I knew the most about Todd Kohlhepp there was still more in there about him that I didn't know so it kept the chapters interesting. I would seriously recommend anyone interested in crime read this book as it's got a way of hooking you in whilst making you want to put the book down and take a break for your sanity.

The book is split up into four parts about the four killers and I enjoyed that aspect, as a lot of true crime books written about multiple killers just have one or two chapters on them, whereas this one has five to six, and they are length and go into detail about their crimes, the effect it has on the family, the trail, talking with the killers and even mentions killers they are similar too. It's all very fascinating and makes me want to read more of Douglas' books. 

The best part of this entire book was the author not glorifying the murderer as this is something that is often lost with other books. I honestly didn't expect Douglas to glorify as someone who's been working with serial killers and came up with the catchphrase (with coworker Robert Ressler) would be less likely too but just knowing that there are people out there who can still write a book on these horrible people and show that yes, they went through stuff without glorifying them or giving them an escape route is refreshing.

I would suggest that it's for mature readers only, as the first two crimes are about paedophiles murdering young girls and that could trigger some people. It obviously goes into detail about what these men had done to their victims and I would suggest avoiding if that is not something you are comfortable reading about.
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