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Publisher's Summary

In The Killer Across the Table, legendary FBI criminal profiler and number one best-selling author John Douglas delves deep into the lives and crimes of four of the most disturbing and complex predatory killers he’s encountered, offering never-before-revealed details about his profiling process and divulging the strategies used to crack some of his most challenging cases. 

Former Special Agent John Douglas has sat across the table from many of the world’s most notorious killers - including Charles Manson, Jeffrey Dahmer, ‘Coed Killer’ Edmund Kemper, ‘Son of Sam Killer’ David Berkowitz and ‘BTK Strangler’ Dennis Rader - and has also been instrumental in the exoneration of Amanda Knox and the West Memphis Three. He has gone on to become a legend in the world of criminal investigative analysis, and his work has inspired TV shows and films such as Mindhunter, Criminal Minds and The Silence of the Lambs

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. Taking us inside the interrogation room and demonstrating the unique techniques he uses to understand the workings of the most terrifying and incomprehensible minds, The Killer Across the Table is an enthralling journey into the darkest reaches of criminal profiling and behavioural science from a man who knows serial killers better than anyone else. As Douglas says:

‘If you want to understand the artist, look at his art.’

If you want to understand what makes a murderer, start here.

©2019 John E. Douglas, Mark Olshaker (P)2019 HarperCollins Publishers Limited

Critic Reviews

"John Douglas is the FBI's pioneer and master of investigative profiling, and one of the most exciting figures in law enforcement I've had the privilege of knowing." (Patricia Cornwell)

"John Douglas knows more about serial killers than anybody in the world." (Jonathan Demme, Director of The Silence of the Lambs)

"Douglas was instrumental in expanding our understanding of murderous psychopathy. He even coined the term “serial killer'." (Telegraph) 

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Truly insightful

John Douglas, in my opinion, is the greatest true crime writer of modern times. This book examines four different offenders, explaining in great detail the nuances of their upbringings and experiences and how these impacted and facilitated their offending behaviour. Most interesting is that these offenders are lesser known than the more prolific or perverted killers, which is refreshing as I find most true crime tends to focus on a group of well-known offenders. I have read all Douglas's books, and like the others I found this to be wonderfully written and difficult to put down. Groff is also probably one of the better narrators I have come across on audible. I could not recommend this more.

10 people found this helpful

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I love that they got Jonathan Groff to read this!!

I love that they got Jonathan Groff to read this!! I mean seriously, need I say any more.

6 people found this helpful

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Profoundly disturbing

This book is fascinating and provides an insight into some truly horrible crimes and the individuals who committed them. However, the details are explicit and often recounted in a mundane fashion. The unspeakable acts perpetrated on a seven year old girl are recounted as if the narrator is reading a shopping list. Profoundly disturbing

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Excellent

Riveting but you need to disassociate. It's quite wrenching throughout the whole book but so captivating I couldn't put it down.

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Very interesting

Really liked this book, I found the narration by Jonathan Groff made it enthralling and difficult to put down. Finished in no time!

1 person found this helpful

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A great insight into criminal profiling

This was a really interesting listen. If you're interested in the world of criminal profiling, or if you enjoyed the Netflix show "Mindhunter" you'll enjoy this audio book. There's also a great little interview between the author and narrator at the end.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Tim
  • 22-03-2021

Loved it

Was very engaging and well narrated I’m a tough marker and this got 5 stars from me

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Incredible read

For any true crime lover you'll fall in love with this book. It isn't easy to hear about such crimes, innocent lives were lost but so fascinating hearing it from a real FBI agents view and interviews.

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Fascinating

Not for the faint of heart, but if you know what you’re getting yourself into, hard to stop listening. Douglas was part of a group of trailblazers who tried to work out what makes the worst kinds of killers tick. His interviews with some of them are disturbing but absolutely fascinating.

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disturbing Insight into Killer Minds

Loved this book. Disturbing insight into the psyche of serial killers and what makes them tick.
Thoroughly enjoyed Mind Hunters on Netflix so thought I would enjoy this first hand account for serial profiling.
Enjoyed this book!

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  • Helen
  • 24-12-2019

Excellent but should come with a warning

I struggled with the first 2 chapters as it graphically described the murder of a 7 year old girl. Just wanted to mention this for anyone who might be sensitive to this, it’s uncomfortable listening to say the least.
Apart from the very hard hitting first couple of chapters it’s enjoyable.
The narrator is fairly matter of fact, no sensationalism.
If you enjoyed mindhunter you’ll certainly enjoy this.

45 people found this helpful

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  • Rusty
  • 07-04-2021

Killers no Thriller

Killers Across the Table: Needlessly long subtile is my first true crime book, having enjoyed a few podcasts in the same genre (West Cork being a standout). I still only bought this because it was written by the FBI-Mindhunter guy, John Douglas.

Mindhunter being a TV series about two FBI profilers who interview killers to find out what makes them tick, presumably to stop more murders happening, it's unclear. The book focuses on the profiles of four different, real life killers, each interviewed by Douglas, who gives us his insights into their different methods, motives and reasoning.

It's fascinating up to a point. Douglas's observations and descriptions of the crimes can make for a gripping, grisly listen, but I also noticed that he often seems to base his conclusions on very slight things, like the person's body language, or on a single comment. I'm not saying he's not great at his job (he's probably very good at it and more importantly, trained), or that these men aren't abhorrent, but a lot is riding on psychoanalysis, which isn't an exact science. We also get some musings on evil and justice that I wish the author got into more deeply.

One of the killers profiled seems to show some remorse and even sympathy, which is almost returned by Douglas, just a little, as he states that law enforcement and the state failed the killer in the past. Unfortunately, this nature versus nurture question doesn't go much beyond "a rough upbringing doesn't excuse murder unless you're crazy". I suppose it doesn't, and Douglas seems mostly happy with the "justice" dished out to murderers in America, especially to the "evil" ones. The thing is though, there are crimes of passion, manslaughter and most importantly, false murder convictions. Douglas even mentions how he worked with the defence on the west Memphis three case. I finally thought we might get some of his thoughts on how broken and wrong the justice system can be. Damien Echols was on death row, lest we forget, but after mentioning the case, Douglas just drops it and returns to his current profile.

It would be interesting to know if moments like that shook his convictions in regards to fellow law enforcement, or to the idea of a death penalty, but he seems broadly in favour of severe punishment for the people he claims are evil. This opinion seems to be cemented later on when Douglas tells us how he showed horrific murder tapes to an actor, making that actor pro state execution. All the reasons against (wrongful convictions, morality, setting an example, it's not a proven deterrent and WRONGFUL CONVICTION) aren't offered as a counterpoint so the book feels somewhat manipulative. It's hard not to agree though, as the killer's numerous crimes are sickening and their seeming indifference to these brutal acts could easily drive a person into a righteous fury, demanding swift and brutal justice....

But I like to think we're better than that.

I did like the section where Douglas mentions the media getting upset with him for not confronting these killers. With him calmly explaining how moral indignation won't get you anywhere with most criminals, let alone murderers. He also added that, unlike in Hollywood, beating up a man in chains, murderer or no, will wind you up in jail.

I listened to the audiobook version with narration by the actor from Mindhunter. He's a better screen actor than voice, occasionally coming across as bored sounding. He's also a little monotone but that actually helps with the grisly subject matter. I do wish he'd attempted some different voices for the few times a killer is quoted although he perhaps thought this would detract from the seriousness of the subject matter. Either way it's a perfectly good listen and I'd probably lean towards this as my preferred medium for the book.

For anyone that enjoyed the first series of Mindhunter, I'd thoroughly recommend this. It's true crime from the perspective of someone who's lived it, faced it, looked it straight in the eye and shook its hand.

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  • Sharon
  • 27-07-2019

You will not be able to turn this off

Make sure you have plenty of time on your hands if you decide to purchase this audiobook. It’s unstoppable! After watching the excellent series on Netflix Mindhunter, this book delves deeper into the whys of some of the most warped minds of our time. It’s gripping, fascinating, well narrated and I hope there’s another volume soon.

18 people found this helpful

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  • Paul Smith
  • 03-06-2019

amazing

loved it. incredible story and great narration. highly recommend to those who like investigative books and criminal stories

10 people found this helpful

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  • Marspain
  • 15-10-2019

brilliant!

A great insight into human behaviour! thoroughly enjoyed the insight into this area of investigation.

8 people found this helpful

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  • Gs Greaves
  • 30-05-2019

Very interesting but scary and disturbing.

Interesting insight into the mind of these psychopaths, but ultimately I found it as scary and disturbing as it was interesting and I'm going to need an upbeat book after this.

8 people found this helpful

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  • Britt
  • 22-09-2019

Fascinating analysis

I binged this book, it was brilliant. I liked how effortlessly it segued from one killer into the next and still tied the crimes together in terms of patterns and signatures.
Groffhas a great voice and I didn't tire of it - however, at times, it was too empathetic. He is an actor, so I can forgive that.
Overall a great read.

7 people found this helpful

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  • Scott
  • 18-04-2021

A deep dive into dark places

Brilliantly narrated by Jonathan Geoff, this book explores in detail four disturbing murderers. Fans of Mindhunter and true crime will enjoy the analysis of each case, though the gruesome retellings are not for the faint hearted.

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  • ian
  • 21-07-2020

Fascinating and scary!

Another brilliant book from Douglas and olshaker. just as good as mindhunter. brilliant that Jonathan Geoff narrates the book to.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Fiona S
  • 06-09-2021

An Excellent Book

I've read quite a few different books on the psychology of serial killers and similar, but this is one of the best ones. It's very clear and well presented, and the narrator is amazing! It's easy to understand and doesn't go off on tangents like some books do. Very thought provoking and interesting.

1 person found this helpful

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