The Killer Across the Table

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Member Reviews

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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I loved this just as much as Mindhunter - it's so fascinating what they did and who they talked to, and it is such an immersive book.
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I enjoyed the tv series Mindhunter as well as the book so jumped at the chance to read Douglas next work. 
Following Douglas’ interviews with a number of different, equally horrific criminals, it was fascinating. It was factual, interesting and educational. Although it was a slow read and took me a couple of weeks to finish I was glad I stuck with it. 
This book is a brilliant study into the minds of horrific killers, told in an intelligent and compelling manner. 
Even better than Mind Hunter
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A sequel of sorts to Mindhunter, The Killer Across the Table follows John E Douglas across the United States as he focuses his attention on four different cases and the interviews he conducted to comprehend the offenders behind them. Along the way, he digs deeper into his own past interviews, building expectations and explaining to the reader the background to his theories and thoughts. The book is without question very interesting, but the tone of the language felt a little arrogant to me and I felt that the authors were convinced of their own rightness and therefore perhaps more liable to fall foul of confirmation bias. That said, the detail is good, the conversations interesting and the concept of criminal behavioural analysis very interesting.
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I have read Mindhunter by John Douglas before and was interested to read The Killer across the Table co written by Mark Olshaker.
True crime interests me especially how the criminal is caught and some background of where their life went on an evil path. Interviewing these evil people has given the authors an important insight into how the criminal mind works and can help the FBI and police in future cases..
I found the book fascinating, frightening, sickening but interesting as well. Thank god for the agents who collated information via these evil men.
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Although an interesting  read I expected more, there wasn’t really anything new in this book that I haven’t read in other true crime books
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I have read most, if not all, of the Douglas / Olshaker books and this volume is more of the same (thats not a criticism, but you know what to expect with books of this ilk).

Here we take a deep dive into the crimes and profiles of four extremely violent offenders.

There isn't much that can be said, fans of Douglas' previous books or the Netflix show Mindhunters will be on familiar ground.

There is some good insight in this book but, I cant help feeling that a touch of smugness seems to be creeping in to the writing. Phrases like 'I wonder if anybody else had ever put these two things together before me' grate a little bit and feel like they are there to serve the writer's ego rather than forward the narrative, which is a shame as Douglas is one smart guy and he surely doesn't need the old ego bolstered.

Apart from this minor criticism (which, by no means makes the books unreadable) this is a well put together book which is well worth a look.
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Certainly an interesting, thought provoking book. Well written. 
Thank you to both NetGalley and publishers for giving me the opportunity to read this book
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I'd previously read 'Mindhunter' by John Douglas, so when I saw that his new book was available for request, I knew that I had to read it! 

In this book Douglas looks into the psychologies of four different men, all of whom are murderers. While some of their cases do have similarities, each of them has a distinct reason (or 'why' and 'how') for killing. This makes each of them interesting to study, as they may give insights into the psychologies of other criminals. We get access to specific, quoted conversations with these criminals, as well as Douglas himself. I found it interesting to learn more about how he talks to these men, as well as how he used these conversations to further the FBI's behavioural sciences unit. 

This book also looks into nature versus nurture when it comes to criminal psychologies - what made these men do what they did? If you are squeamish, maybe give this book a skip, as there are pretty graphic discussions of how these men murdered, as well as intense discussions about what was going through their thoughts as they did so. This is what interests me the most, so for me this was an extremely interesting book. 

Content warnings include descriptions of sexual assault, torture and murder of adults and children
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Although this was a little bit self-congratulatory in places, I did really enjoy it. The conversations in question take place between John Douglas and four murderers over a span of time. I found the details about the science of criminal profiling fascinating and the way in which Douglas was involved from the ground level in the institution of criminal profiling as a valid aspect of investigation. I also thought it was really interesting to discuss the differences between interviewing a suspect and interviewing a convict and the ways in which different techniques would be used to get the best possible outcome. All in all, anyone with an interest in true crime narratives will definitely get a lot out of this book.
I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.
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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.

My nan always talked about Mindhunter and John Douglas books, and  how the former profiler for the FBI and author delved into murderers’mind and made meread his former books and this book continues his exploration into the darkest minds in page-turning but an also interesting way. 

A book not for anyone whose been affected by some of the worst of people’s actions, Doughlas is brutally honest about what these people do to people in detail and never relents throughout this book, making it difficult to read in some moments, and has made me in moments wince reading the pages - this is the true face of horror and certainly not at all fiction. 

As you read this book it feels like you walk in Douglas’ footsteps as he figures out these crimes and it makes for tragically riveting reading, catching these people and interviewing them to find out why and what led them to commit these crimes. It’s a heavy read, especially when I read the first case, but it’s such a captivating book that will keep you engrossed. 

If you love True Crime, particularly shows such as Criminal Minds, I highly recommend this book to you!
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Anyone with a passing interest in true crime knows who John Douglas is. He’s the retired FBI agent famous for his groundbreaking work in criminal profiling and more recently portrayed in the Netflix series, Mindhunter. Douglas has written several books about the murderers he’s interviewed and helped catch through his profiling work and The Killer Across the Table is the latest. 

The book is split into four sections, each section dominated by a particular killer Douglas met with, but with several asides and stories through the chapters. It’s a really good approach that gives the book a slightly conversational style, it’s almost like the reader has sat down for a drink with Douglas while he reels off his war stories. What could feel like name dropping is much more than that. Douglas has several interesting insights into the criminals he’s interviewed and as he’s talking to them he’s constantly looking for little clues and tics in their behaviour. The fact he’s met with these people gives his words far more credence than the average cash in true crime book and he manages to drill down into their character in an insightful way. It’s a pretty heavy read, Douglas doesn’t shy away from the brutality of these men’s crimes and I’d only recommend this to those have a general interest in true crime. That being said it really is a fascinating read that leans more towards the academic rather than lurid. 

I received a ARC from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for a fair review.
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Douglas is the master of profiling and i absolutely loved his first book Mindhunter. He is an expert in his field and that shows in this book as he takes you inside some of the worst minds and their horrific crimes. The subject matter is dark but he handles it well and doesn't romanticize it like some authors have in books.
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Scary chilling eerievaneye opening horrifying look into the criminal mind the minds of predators.Written by two leading authorities in the field of the criminal mind four horrific cases analyzes.Pull a seat up to the table meet these criminals and you sleep with the lights on.#netgalley #4thestatebooks
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John Douglas has a unique position in serial killer studies, and boy is he proud of it. I always enjoy a John Douglas book because his defensive Needless To Say, I Had The Last Laugh approach to everything extremely entertaining.. There's a lot of repetition here with his older books, especially Mindhunter, with plenty of references to Ed Kemper and the Atlanta Child Murders but there's plenty of new stuff too. The focus on mostly unknown killers who refuse to fit Douglas's FBI patterns was a nice change from his previous books and I enjoyed his digressions on high-profile cases he's not touched on before (OJ Simpson in particular). 

I do feel that the final section on Todd Kohlhepp was a bit odd, as Douglas does not actually meet him, instead relying on Kohlhepp self-reporting on a questionnaire - something that Douglas rants about repeatedly both in this book and his others. The inclusion of this chapter was a real weakness, I felt and meant that the whole book ended on a down note of anti-climax. It was a particular shame as I thought that Kohlhepp was perhaps the most interesting killer in the book and I would have enjoyed seeing Douglas confront his self-presentation and myth-making.
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Fascinating insight into, and exploration of, criminology and its application. The authors demonstrate professionalism and a valuable understanding of criminal minds whilst remaining respectful of the victims. A very enlightening read.
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By all intents and purposes, John E. Douglas is an interesting character with a fascination for interesting characters. He was one of the FBI's first criminal profilers and a celebrated serial killer "whisperer" for the duration of his career. In this book, he delves into criminal psychopathy and attempts to answer questions such as: are killers born or made but also investigates the reasoning for their offences and how the offender themselves tries to justify their actions. Douglas’s great insight was to recognise apprehended serial killers not as monsters to be thrown down a deep pit and forgotten – but an untapped reservoir of knowledge and insight. Who could better understand, and decipher, these debased crimes than the criminals perpetrating them?

So despite being considered as unorthodox at the time, Douglas decided to go to the direct source. Time after time he charmed and gained the confidence of criminals such as Charles Manson, Ed Kemper and Ted Bundy who gave up their darkest secrets. This is an interesting true crime book which gets to the crux of the issue through some intriguing, lesser-known cases. Sometimes the way in which it is written can come across as quite sensationalist, and we have to remember that these crimes had victims, but I can also see that Mr Douglas gets giddy when uncovering new information, so it may just be that. This is one of the better true crime reads and recommended reading for those interested in crime, criminal profiling, psychology and psychopathy. Many thanks to William Collins for an ARC.
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This is not a book for the faint of heart. It is surprising that I have not picked up books by this author(s) before, considering that I have watched multiple serialized versions of their findings on TV and NetFlix. It was a little hard to get through the first section because of the detailed descriptions of the crime but the other three were comparatively less brutal.

This book consists of four cases of killers with references to other similar ones within the section itself. John Douglas details the conversations he has with these criminals to identify traits and patterns that might ultimately work towards something positive in the future. I found it easy to read the actual narration of the thought process (if not the details of the crime) and understood the need to convey the psychological aspects that might be the underlying cause. The summation at the end of the book, however, made me understand the point of the whole exercise and the collection of these otherwise macabre events. 

I have only read a few true-crime books but this was one of the better ones. I would (at some later stage) check out more books by the author.
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‘Why and how = who’. So says FBI profiler John Douglas, on whom profiler Jack Crawford in the Silence of the Lambs was modelled.
His quest is to better understand murderers so that we can learn why they make the choices they do, for society’s good.
This book is about his interviews with very different killers, from the male nurse ‘the angel of death’ to child killer John McGowan.
I haven’t seen Mindhunter or read Douglas’ other books but this is a pretty comprehensive trawl through the casebook of true crime. 
Although he is careful not to condone murder, I suspect that some readers will find his understanding of the origins of his subjects’ crimes and his empathy for what made them the people they are unpalatable and almost celebrating them.
But I didn’t find that. I like the full picture and believe you can indeed understand without letting someone off the hook. 
I enjoyed these insights and found it fascinating that murderers have very different motivations and responses to their crimes. 
I sometimes found the allusion to so many killers a bit overwhelming but it is admirably comprehensive. 
I would recommend it.
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John Douglas is undoubtedly a fascinating man. Right at the forefront of criminal profiling, he's sat across the interview table from some of the most infamous and prolific serial killers of our time. Yet this is a light offering, repetitive and covering ground well trodden. The cases are, of course, horrific, especially the first: the rape and murder of 7 year old Joan D'Alessandro. The problem is that he can't let those bigger fish go, instead their stories seep into this book at every possible point of comparison. Ed Kemper shows up regularly, as do other 'big names'. If you've seen Mindhunter (and I recommend that you do), most of what's discussed here, save the specifics of these 4 cases, has been covered before. 

I was expecting something more procedural and academic, something more about the work the profilers do, rather than this more sensationalist, killer focused work. This is a book dominated by personality, both Douglas' own and those of the well-known criminals he has interviewed. Because of that, it sometimes veers too far into uncomfortable territory, exploitative and almost celebratory at times. Something about it just didn't sit quite right with me. As much as the advances in criminal investigation interests me, I doubt I'd read anything by him again.

ARC via Netgalley
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