The Barnes & Noble Review
Master FBI profiler John Douglas and acclaimed journalist/filmmaker Mark Olshaker international bestselling authors of Mindhunter and Journey into Darkness pair up once again to journey into the minds and souls of both the hunters and the hunted in Obsession: The FBI's Legendary Profiler Probes the Psyches of Killers, Rapists, and Stalkers and Their Victims and Tells How To Fight Back.
In Obsession, Douglas and Olshaker highlight the key issues, cases, and emotions of interpersonal crimes and provide an in-depth examination of crimes that are committed primarily against women and the elderly. They draw upon some of the compelling cases Douglas has investigated in his 25 years with the FBI and as the founder and head of the FBI's Investigative Support Unit for 15 years. Examining cases such as Ronnie Shelton, the serial rapist who terrorized Cleveland; the stalking and killing of Rebecca Shaeffer (who starred in television's "My Sister Sam"); and New York's "preppie murder," Douglas and Olshaker provide insight into what really drives criminals to commit these crimes. They also delve into the FBI files to draw upon the cases of infamous serial killers Ted Bundy, Ed Gein, and Gary Heidnick (the three obsessional killers who made up the composite character of Buffalo Bill in The Silence of the Lambs,) to give us an understanding of the motivations behind interpersonal crime.
Obsession is also a call to action. In the chapter "Fighting Back," Douglas and Olshaker tell readers, womeninparticular, what they must do to prevent themselves and their families from becoming potential victims. They describe "Survivor Groups" that help the families of the victims of violent crimes, showing how these groups can help people move beyond their pain to bring about important legislation as well as awareness of interpersonal crime.
Obsession is vital reading for anyone seeking to understand and prevent violent crime.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
With the warmth and frank bias of a firsthand observer, Douglas, the founder and head of the FBI's Investigative Support Unit and the inspiration for the character of Jack Crawford in Silence of the Lambs and Red Dragon, here describes violent crimes and their consequences. With co-author Olshaker, with whom he wrote Mindhunter and Journey into Darkness, Douglas details the crimes and case histories of serial killers, serial rapists, child molesters, stalkers and others. Included are infamous killers such as Edward Gein, Ted Bundy and Robert Chambers, along with less publicized, though just as disturbing, purveyors of acts of fatal obsession. Asserting "that behavior reflects personality," Douglas shows how he and his colleagues can assess the different temperaments and motivations at work behind grisly acts. Rapists tend to fall into four basic categories, for example, the "power-reassurance rapist" (driven by feelings of inadequacy), the "exploitive" rapist (impulsive and overtly macho), the "anger" rapist (who uses sex to displace his rage) and, cruelest of all, the "sadistic" rapist, who "simply gets off on hurting people." What stands out in this eye-opening book is how Douglas's compassion for the survivors of violent crimes seems to equal his understanding of the criminals themselves. His description of the work of the countless people who counsel, comfort and fight for the rights of victims serves as a welcome reminder that horrific and isolated acts of darkness and coldness are counterbalanced by a warmhearted and, one hopes, more natural human determination to help. (Feb.)
If you want to avoid stalkers or rapists, keep away from those with a history of bedwetting, pyromania, and cruelty to animals. Of course perpetrators will act long before their backgrounds are discovered, in which case follow your instincts. The authors went to a lot of trouble compiling this uninteresting volume. It's intended audience, apparently, are the perps and their victims. Its most unique aspect is not that it's read by coauthor Douglas but that he stumbles over his own words. Save your shelf space; not recommended.James Dudley, Copiague, NY
A look at rape-and-murder and its perpetrators by one of the men who invented the forensic art of psychological profiling. Douglas (Mindhunter, also with Olshaker, not reviewed, etc.) was the founder and longtime head of the FBI's Investigative Support Unit and over his career saw many cases that went unsolved, including the Green River Killer, a case so frustrating that it nearly killed Douglas himself. Douglas's readers will be familiar with this assortment of famously grisly scenes combined with profiles of the murderers. This book focuses mainly on stalkers and their victims, so Douglas necessarily revisits the scenes of Rebecca Schaffer, Dominique Dunne, and Teresa Saldana. He also gives an overview of rapists/murderers such as Ted Bundy and Gary Heidnik, the City of Brotherly Love's answer to Jeffrey Dahmer. Unfortunately, much of the information here is already so familiar to crime buffs that there isn't much to be gleaned from these sections. Douglas is much better at the beginning, when he discusses a little-known killer who seems to have been the basis for Francis Dolarhyde in Red Dragon (Thomas Harris fans, take note). Douglas's profile of this stalker and killer is illuminating, unlike too much of this book, which is merely titillating. The promise of the subtitle goes unfulfilledthe "fighting back" seems limited to victim's families joining support groups, rather than any real advice to those seeking protection from a stalker. In fact, most of these victims had restraining orders against their stalkers, which were of little use in the face of a knife or a gun. Not much more than a collection of truly horrifying stories, which is a shame for both the reader, whojustifiably expects more, and for Douglas, who has more to offer. (Author tour)