Sunday, February 06, 2011

hey, at least i'm reading...

When I look at the collection of serial killer books I received for my birthday, my head almost explodes with sheer excitement and joy at getting to read them all. I'm already half through two of the: Devil in the White City by Erik Larson (about H.H. Holmes) and Mind Hunter, by FBI serial killer profiler, John Douglas. The Silence of the Lambs character Jack Crawford is based on him, so as one might imagine, I read this book feverishly flipping pages as Douglas devotes each chapter to a different case he worked on.
Douglas is a little cocky. Every once in awhile, there's an aside: "And here's another awesome thing I said that fucked with David Berkowitz's head." But I think to spend all of one's time flying around working on creepy case after creepy case, predicting things requires one to be overly confident.
For example, Douglas flies into some rural Southern killing ground, examines all of the evidence in a series of seemingly related murders and then says shit like, "The killer is 20-25, lives with an older female relative, is probably an electrician, drives a black or navy car, is very neat, possesses this specific kind of porn and you've probably already interviewed him."
And the local fuzz is all, "This is a load of hooey, Fed."
Until guess who they catch? Oh, just a 24-year old electrician who lives with his aunt, drives a black car, has a bunch of S&M porn under his mattress and was already dismissed as a suspect.
Here's what I find super interesting about profiling:
1. Douglas (and his team) will predict an age range, but it's an emotional age. If someone was home-schooled or from a very rural area, they might kill like a 25 year old, but actually be 35. The same goes for if they served time in jail. Jail time doesn't count in their emotional age. NEAT!
2. Douglas only takes on cases if the crimes are super fucked up and they're hot. Cold cases aren't worth his precious time and he makes no bones about it. Basically, if you call John Douglas to come all the way across the country to work on your boring little murder that you should be able to solve yourself, he's going to be pissed and tell you so. (He proudly repeats this throughout the book.)
3. When I am reading this book and someone makes a noise in the house, I completely freak out. Which might have something to do with my pulling my birthday book list from an article called, "Top 50 True Crime Books That Will Scare the S*** Out of You."
4. I have created a Pandora station just for reading scary books. It is awesome and I've started to download a bunch of the music I'm discovering. Melissa was over and going through my iTunes.
"What the fuck is this?" she asked.
"It's my serial killer music."
She looked at me for a very long time. "It's a wonder I'm not more afraid of you."
Be that as it may, I discovered a long time ago when I read Red Dragon while listening to The Insider Soundtrack, the perfect background reading music makes everything more intense.
Anyway, this is why I've been a slacker about posting blogs lately. I've had my nose buried in murder and my ears stuffed with creepy instrumentals. It'll all be worth it when one day, you've got a mystery you need solved, present me with the evidence and I announce, "The culprit is 43, wears a toupe, drives a Mitsubishi Eclipse, wears sweatpants with a hole in the left pocket and used to be your boyfriend..."


Lisa said...

Ever read this New Yorker profile on Douglas/the effectiveness of profiling?:

Your creepy music seems like it might be good for studying too. Might have to use it.

JFBF said...

The profiling sounds exactly like the show Criminal Minds... which is interesting, and terribly cheesy at the same time. Like most crime dramas... but they fly around the country profiling urgent cases!

Hello, Clarice said...

Despite being an outsider, you really need to find a way to join this. Can one turn pro from passionate amateur in the world of profiling?

NPR story here