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The Cases That Haunt Us Hardcover – November 14, 2000

4.0 out of 5 stars 205 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Confident in his opinions and systematic in his examination of high-profile whodunits, FBI veteran John Douglas proves his worth once again as one of the world's best psychological detectives. You may think you've read all there is about Jack the Ripper, Lizzie Borden, and the Lindbergh kidnapping, but Douglas has a few surprise conclusions in his modern analysis of these gripping crimes. By applying criminal personality profiling techniques he developed while stalking more current killers, Douglas provides a fresh, sage outlook on some disturbing history. He also sheds new light on San Francisco's Zodiac Killer, the Black Dahlia murder, Bambi Bembenek, the Boston Strangler, and the continuing mystery of who killed 6-year-old JonBenét Ramsey. Douglas sometimes reveals his chief suspect; other times he simply narrows down who the killer is not. In the JonBenét mystery (in which Douglas was hired by the Ramseys to find the killer), he presents a convincing case for why he believes the girl's parents are not guilty of murder. Douglas is founder of the FBI's Serial Killer Profiling Unit. His method of solving a crime by entering the mind of the killer inspired Thomas Harris's book The Silence of the Lambs. In this dissection of our most sensational crimes, Douglas proves that reality can be more horrifying than fiction. --Jodi Mailander Farrell

From Publishers Weekly

FBI veteran Douglas is best known as the inventor of criminal profiling as an investigative tool, and in this superbly written and narratively taut new work, he teams up again with Olshaker, his coauthor on the bestselling Mindhunter, to look at eight murder cases that have transfixed the popular imagination. By systematically applying the most advanced techniques of criminology to the information available, he provides new insights and suppositions, even into cases as well trod as that of Jack the Ripper, in some cases identifying who the murderer is, in other cases only who it is not. The cases involve Lizzie Borden, the kidnapping and murder of Charles Lindbergh Jr., the Zodiac killer (who went on a murder rampage throughout the San Francisco Bay area about 30 years ago), the Black Dahlia Murder, Bambi Bembenek, the Boston Strangler, and the still unresolved murder of six-year-old JonBenet Ramsey on Christmas 1996 (Douglas has served as a consultant and an expert witness for the grand jury in this case). In the Ramsey case, although he cannot identify the killer of JonBenet, Douglas is adamant that the parents, John and Patricia Ramsey, did not commit the crime. He profiles the killer as a young man or teen with a personal and specific grudge against John Ramsey. Agent, Jay Acton.
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Series: Lisa Drew Books
  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner; 1st edition (November 14, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-13: 978-0671017064
  • ASIN: 0684846004
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.4 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (205 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #536,513 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Not since his first work, MINDHUNTER, have I read a Douglas book this interesting. Mindhunter set the pace for all the profiling narratives that followed. Although nobody does it better than Douglas, his subsequent works were somewhat lacking because they did not grab the reader with the same tenacity as his first novel. He takes a somewhat new direction with THE CASES THAT HAUNT US and in turn a better book surfaces.
In CASES THAT HAUNT US Douglas looks at some of the more infamous murders of all time and adds his professional perspective. Whereas he can offer nothing new (after all there have been thousands of books on Jack the Ripper for example), he does weigh some of the more mentioned theories and shows their strenghts and more often than not, their weaknesses. He picks some of the all time chilling real life horror stories....Jack the Ripper, The Zodiac, The Boston Strangler, The Lindbergh Kidnapping, and even the infamous Jon Benet Ramsey case. All the chapters are intriguing and well thought out. He does an outstanding job of showing how some of the conventional thinking on these cases is flawed and in turn relays his years of hands on experience in the field. Along the way, he peppers his views with recollections of cases he has touched.
The main point of controversy in this book in sure to be the Ramsey killing. It is no secret that Douglas was called in to offers his thoughts on this tragic event by the lawyers representing the Ramseys. While I do not agree that he sold out as some would insist, I do question his desire to hire himself out to the main suspects in this grisly event. (in all fairness to Douglas he does contend that after the initial consultation fee he refused to accept further payment and even paid for subsequent flights to Atlanta).
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Format: Hardcover
This is the best Douglas book since his first, "Mindhunter." Subsequent books has have tended to be repetitive with not much new information. In this book, since he is looking into historical cases for the most part, he offers new analyses and ideas about the Unsubs in cases including Jack the Ripper, Lizzy Borden, Charles Lindbergh Jr, Zodiac killer, and Boston Strangler.
I almost wish he hadn't included the JonBenet Ramsey case, because I think that takes away from the rest of the book. He could have included some other cases that still "haunt" us, that would be interesting from a historical point of view. I don't think enough time has passed for people to consider the Ramsay case objectively. I am not saying I disagree with his conclusions about the Ramsays, but I don't completely buy them either. If he is ever proved wrong, he will have to eat a ton of crow. Enough said.
Still, I would recommend this book for true crime lovers, historical crime buffs, and anyone with an interest in psychological profilings. I admit freely my favorite TV show is Discovery Channels "The New Detectives." If you have never seen it, and you fall into one of the above categories, you must check this show out.
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Format: Hardcover
I've read most of John Douglas' books, and most of the other books inspired by the work done in the FBI's Behavioral Sciences unit. I have a deep respect for Douglas and his many colleagues around the country who continue to work in law enforcement and are students of the criminal mind.
"The Cases that Haunt Us" is, for the most part, a work that deserves as much accolade as Douglas and Olshaker's previous books. The historical perspective and fresh evaluative light shed on such classic cases as Jack the Ripper and the Lindbergh kidnapping is fascinating and invaluable. However, upon reading the final chapter, I was left with the nagging feeling that every chapter in the book was a carefully calculated setup to prepare the reader for the final chapter, where Douglas presents his findings and opinions on the JonBenet Ramsey murder case.
I don't fault him for being unobjective. He admits that he was hired by the Ramseys' lawyers to provide his opinions on their possible guilt or innocence. He was not, as is often assumed by the public, hired to provide a profile of the killer (he was never given access to the autopsy reports, crime scene photos, physical evidence, etc., that would be necessary for a true profile). As with his style in the previous chapters, he presents the facts of the case. But his chapter on JonBenet is hopelessly contaminated by his own involvement with the family (none of the other high profile cases in the book involved him personally). The result is a missive that reads like a cross between a rationalization and an apology. Don't get me wrong, Douglas presents his findings in a clear and very logical manner, and I don't disagree with his findings.
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Format: Hardcover
Jack the Ripper. Lizzie Borden. The Zodiac. Bruno Richard Hauptmann. The psycho who killed JonBenet Ramsey. Crispin Glover. O.k., that last name doesn't belong there, but the guy is so weird I thought I'd throw him in for good measure. All of these folks (except for Crispin Glover), according to former FBI profiler turned author John Douglas, share a common theme. One is murder, of course, but the other is their involvement in criminal cases that continue to haunt the public imagination. Plug in any one of the abovementioned names into a search engine and you'll understand why the authors chose "The Cases That Haunt Us" as the title of the book. On one of the most popular search engines JonBenet Ramsey brings up 780,000 returns. Jack the Ripper has over two million, Zodiac a million and a half. While not all of these links directly relate to these infamous cases, obviously, the numbers do show how these names have worked their way into the popular consciousness. And that occurred, sadly, because the crimes documented in this book are truly hideous, bone-chilling incidents of murder most foul that stand out even in a country as violent as America.

John Douglas is a familiar name to those of us who follow dastardly deeds. He once worked as one of the premier criminal profilers at the FBI. Profiling is a cutting edge psychological approach to fighting crime that attained national prominence thanks to the film "The Silence of the Lambs". It's also a lot older than the FBI. Profiling an unknown criminal in an attempt to catch him or her stretches all the way back to the 19th century. But Douglas and his ilk updated the techniques and have used them to catch many murderers. Clever killers who would never have been captured are now sitting in prison thanks to profiling.
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