Book Review: Mindhunter

MINDHUNTER | John E. Douglas & Mark Olshaker
10.24.2017 | Gallery Books
(first published in 1995)
Rating: 4/5 stars


Special Agent John Douglas helped to revolutionize the FBI and how criminal investigations are conducted by becoming an expert in criminal profiling. Douglas made his life’s work out of meeting with, learning about, and understanding serial killers to ultimately formulate theories about what makes people tick. Now retired, Douglas takes the reader back in time to where it all started. This is the story of how one of the FBI’s most elite divisions was created, as well as a peak into the minds of some of the most disturbed serial killers of all time.


Douglas has served as the inspiration and basis for many fictional criminal profilers over the years, such as Special Agent Jack Crawford in the Silence of the Lambs. Provided within these pages Douglas breaks down how he invented and established the art of criminal profiling. For years he submerged himself into meeting those who committed some of the most violent crimes in history. Spanning from Charles Manson to Ted Bundy to the Atlanta child murders, Douglas covers the spectrum of crimes and those behind them.


Discussing in detail the elements of the various cases Douglas has worked on over his career helps the reader not only to understand how the field of criminal profiling was created and has evolved over the years, but also opens the door to learn much about the history surrounding these cases. There are of course many criminals named and discussed within these pages that are infamous for their crimes, but there are also more individuals who I have never heard of prior to opening the pages of MINDHUNTER. Each section of the story and Douglas’ life as broken down by the way the FBI was evolving in order to catch these criminals. These are some of the landmark cases that helped to shift the viewpoints of those investigating them, thus opening the door for people like Douglas and other profilers to perfect their craft.

It’s an incredible literary achievement to mold such dense cases and detailed events into an end product that captivates the reader. There are certainly times during reading this book that I found my attention drifting or felt a bit bored with the topic at hand. These instances typically occurred while Douglas was breaking down the inner workings of his office politics or entering into a bragging level regarding his achievements. Douglas is an interesting narrator who does not shy away from praising himself for all of his professional achievements. I respect that Douglas is a revolutionary in his field, but at times I would have preferred a more humble narrator. Despite these small gripes with the context of the book, the overall impact of this work of true crime was not lost on me.


If you have ever found yourself watching a show or movie with a criminal profiler and wanted to know more about the field, this is the book for you. If you have a deep love for true crime and the intricacies surrounding cases, this is definitely the book for you. This is certainly not the read for the faint of heart, but if you’re up for it, I highly recommend placing MINDHUNTER on your TBR!

This book is available to buy from: Amazon | Book Depository

Disclosure: What Jess Reads is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to This in no way influences my opinion of the above book.

3 thoughts on “Book Review: Mindhunter

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