BOOK CLUB: Tales of criminal truth
First Posted: 4/8/2013
Somebody’s going to pay.
Someone needs to atone for that which was done to you. It was unfair, unlawful, illegal, immoral, downright wrong, and you want revenge. You want to see someone suffer like you did. You want atonement, an apology.
You want justice.
Heads will roll. Someone’s going to pay for a crime today although, as you’ll see in the new book “Law & Disorder” by John Douglas and Mark Olshaker, the punishment might not fit the crime at all.
John Douglas didn’t want to be seen as “uninformed, stupid or both.” Newly assigned to teach criminal psychology to first-time FBI agents in 1977, he realized that many of his students understood more about the cases he’d present than he did. Knowing that that just wouldn’t work he educated himself, which led to new ways of studying serial killers and other criminals.
It’s possible, says Douglas, to know what a killer was thinking and doing at each step of a violent crime. His Criminal Personality Research Project, the first organized study, gave officials a “proven” way to profile criminals. Today, the FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Unit (BAU) investigates over a thousand cases a year.
Cases like the murder that happened the year after Douglas was born.
Two women were killed in late 1945 in a quiet Chicago neighborhood, followed by the abduction and mutilation of a six-year-old girl nearby. It wasn’t long before police announced the killer’s arrest, there was a trial, and the man was imprisoned. But Douglas always had his doubts about the allegations.
When a young Virginia woman was found dead in her home and her brother-in-law was arrested, tried, and scheduled to die by electrocution, Douglas feared that justice was about to go horribly wrong. The accused protested his innocence and many people believed him. Douglas almost did, too, until he learned the truth.
And then there was the case of the man who brutally murdered a beautiful nineteen-year-old Marine. The crime was horrific and, says Douglas, was one of his most famous cases. The aftermath of it still troubles him, as does the fact that the case lived longer than the victim did.
So you say you love a good mystery? Yep, there’s nothing like a whodunit, unless it’s a whodunit that’s entirely true, which perfectly describes “Law & Disorder.”
With a just-the-facts writing style and crimescene descriptions that are never prettified, Douglas and Olshaker send a chill straight down their readers’ backbones. We’re treated to Hollywood-like stories of murder and methodology, guilt and innocence, and the authors make it easy to be lulled into forgetting reality. We’re somehow allowed to feel as though we’re crime-solving, too, until they remind us, not-so-subtly, that these were real crimes, real people, and real blood.
True crime fans of both book and TV are going to eat this memoir up, and I think sleuth sharks will love it, too. If you’ve got the time for crime, then “Law & Disorder” is a book you won’t mind paying for.