A Crime Reporter and Citizen Sleuth on the Cases and Innovations of His Career

Book review: Chase Darkness with Me, by Billy Jensen (Amazon / Book Depository) Crime writer and citizen digital detective Billy Jensen is known for his collaborative efforts to finish Michelle McNamara’s I’ll Be Gone in the Dark posthumously, but he has an impressive resume of his own in true crime journalism. In this account of his progression from crime news reporter with the show Crime Watch … Continue reading A Crime Reporter and Citizen Sleuth on the Cases and Innovations of His Career

A Wrongful Conviction and an Innocence Commission

Book review: Ghost of the Innocent Man, by Benjamin Rachlin (Amazon / Book Depository) Wrongful conviction narratives are incomparably terrifying. They leave the reader with a lingering unease, that if this could happen to the person profiled, on flimsy or nonexistent evidence in a complex yet error-filled justice system, it could happen to anyone. It’s happening to others who don’t have books written about them … Continue reading A Wrongful Conviction and an Innocence Commission

“Mindhunter” John Douglas Breaks Down Behavior and Psychology in Four Profiles

Book review: The Killer Across the Table, by John Douglas and Mark Olshaker (Amazon / Book Depository) This is a book about the way violent predators think – the bedrock of my twenty-five years as an FBI special agent, behavioral profiler, and criminal investigative analyst, as well as the work I have done since my retirement from the bureau. John Douglas hardly needs an introduction, … Continue reading “Mindhunter” John Douglas Breaks Down Behavior and Psychology in Four Profiles

The Long Story of an LAPD Cold Case

Book review: The Lazarus Files, by Matthew McGough (Amazon / Book Depository) In 2009, a decades-old cold case, the 1986 murder of Sherri Rasmussen, a young newlywed nurse in Van Nuys, heated up when a suspect was finally arrested. As in many recent cases, new testing of old DNA evidence – here, an allegedly misplaced swab from a bite mark on Sherri’s arm – was … Continue reading The Long Story of an LAPD Cold Case

Mark Bowden on Turning Over a Cold Case’s “Last Stone”

Book review: The Last Stone, by Mark Bowden (Amazon / Book Depository) Mark Bowden is a gem in narrative journalism. I’ve so often been sucked into reading a longread, that kind of lose-track-of-time story, and see it’s his after finally checking the byline. He’s a wonderfully compelling storyteller and a thorough, detail-oriented journalist. In The Last Stone, he revisits the recently solved disappearance of the … Continue reading Mark Bowden on Turning Over a Cold Case’s “Last Stone”

Genesis of the “Mindhunter”

Book review: Mindhunter, by John Douglas and Mark Olshaker (Amazon / Book Depository) It isn’t always easy, and it’s never pleasant, putting yourself in these guys’ shoes —or inside their minds. But that’s what my people and I have to do. We have to try to feel what it was like for each one. When I mentioned FBI profiler John Douglas’s upcoming book with his … Continue reading Genesis of the “Mindhunter”

An Unusual Investigation Reveals Sweden’s “Dark Heart”

Book review: The Dark Heart, by Joakim Palmkvist (Amazon / Book Depository) At summer’s end in 2012, an older, miserly farmer went missing from his farm in the Swedish countryside. The surrounding region is dubbed the “dark heart of Smaland,” in reference to its traditional conservatism and religious background. Palmkvist points out that it’s an apt expression for this story, at the heart of which … Continue reading An Unusual Investigation Reveals Sweden’s “Dark Heart”

New York City’s 16-Year Manhunt and Criminal Profiling’s Beginnings

Book review: Incendiary, by Michael Cannell (Amazon / Book Depository) In 1956 there was no such thing as criminal profiling; nobody could recall an instance when the police had consulted a psychiatrist. It was a collaboration fabricated in detective novels, but never found in real life. Every one of today’s profilers, real or televised, traces his or her lineage back to the psychiatrist who depicted the … Continue reading New York City’s 16-Year Manhunt and Criminal Profiling’s Beginnings

A Case Study of Justice and Racial Politics in Florida

Book review: Beneath a Ruthless Sun, by Gilbert King Amazon Gilbert King, 2013 Pulitzer winner for Devil in the Grove: Thurgood Marshall, the Groveland Boys, and the Dawn of a New America, returns to the setting of that book: mid-20th century Florida and the intersection of justice and race relations, to tell a new story from the era in this extensive work of history. The book, which … Continue reading A Case Study of Justice and Racial Politics in Florida

Janet Malcolm Observes a Murder Trial

Book review: Iphigenia in Forest Hills, by Janet Malcolm (Amazon / Book Depository) Iphigenia in Forest Hills is a well reported account of a 2009 murder trial by renowned journalist Janet Malcolm. The victim at the center was dentist Daniel Malakov, who in 2007 was shot on a playground allegedly on the orders of his wife, Mazoltov Borukhova, a respected doctor in Forest Hills, Queens. Malakov’s death … Continue reading Janet Malcolm Observes a Murder Trial

Southern Corruption and the Flawed System Allowing Injustice

Book review: The Cadaver King and the Country Dentist, by Radley Balko and Tucker Carrington (Amazon / Book Depository) Despite the relatively low pay of the state positions in forensic pathology, a doctor willing to bend the profession’s guidelines to help supply meet demand could make good money. There are quite a few places across the country where that’s exactly what happened – where doctors have … Continue reading Southern Corruption and the Flawed System Allowing Injustice

A Crucial, Timely Work of Narrative Reportage on Rape Investigation

Book review: A False Report, by T. Christian Miller and Ken Armstrong Amazon / Book Depository It’s early, but I’ll call it – this will be one of the most important nonfiction titles released this year. Pulitzer Prize-winning journalists T. Christian Miller and Ken Armstrong discovered every reporter’s nightmare – they were chasing nearly the same story. It was that of a serial rapist recently caught and … Continue reading A Crucial, Timely Work of Narrative Reportage on Rape Investigation