Monday, July 5, 2010

The Profiler: My Life Hunting Serial Killers and Psychopaths By Pat Brown

When I do a book review I always check to see what other people have to say about the book and how it’s rated on various book review pages. These don’t influence my review, because there’s really no getting around how you feel about a book. But it is interesting to me how books affect other people as well.

The Profiler: My Life Hunting Serial Killers and Psychopaths by Pat Brown was one of those books that people loved or hated, and even the ones who loved it hated some things, and vice versa. The ratings were all very high or very low, nothing in between.  I believe I know why. 

First, most of you would probably take a wide detour around this book unless you’re fascinated by what makes serial killers and psychopaths tick. I’m not sure why, but I can’t get enough of the who’s, why’s and how’s. So the readers of this book have expectations created through experience (not killing but rather lots of reading about it). Pat Brown didn’t let us down on the juicy details. Her descriptions of the suspected killers, their motives and methodologies were really quite satisfying (that sounds a little sick, right?) Click on Read More Below...

But, and this is the bootylicious of all buts, about half-to-two-thirds into the book, her stories became very repetitious, and she never “officially” solved a crime. I say officially because although she obviously knows what she’s doing as a profiler, nary a one of the cases she worked on ever ended in a person going to prison! Yep, she was a complete failure. But hold your judgment for a sec because a vast majority of the cases she worked on were also never solved by law enforcement. It seems that many cases of murder are never solved.

One of the more fascinating things about the book is how Pat Brown became a criminal profiler. She was a sort of hippy mom of something like five kids who happened to live very close to where a girl was murdered, and for reasons not unreasonable, she began to suspect that a guy who was renting a room in her home was the killer. So, she read a lot of books and attended a lot of workshops, and voila, she’s a criminal profiler. Needless to say, law enforcement wasn’t particularly excited when she went to see them and said that their investigations sucked and that she was smarter and knew who the killer was.  In fact, they pretty much wrote her off as a wacko, which she may be. But when you listen to her describe her profiling rational for suspecting certain people as the killers, she is very convincing.

One thing that made this book feel almost as weird as the topic, is the fact that although Pat Brown studied profiling for years, was engaged by many victims’ families and a few law enforcement people, she never worked for money. Why would someone who obviously needed the money (her hubby was a mechanic and they rented out rooms in their home), work for free?

A lot of the readers thought she was arrogant, but those criticisms felt a little sexist to me. If Pat had never disclosed that she was a woman and mother, I doubt anyone would have thought she was arrogant, but rather, confident. Hmmm.

Read it? If you’re draw to these types of books, you’re going to read it no matter what I say, otherwise, I doubt you made it past the title of this review.

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