THE KILLER’S SHADOW by John Douglas and Mark Olshaker (Review by Bruna Looby)

2 min read

4.5 / 5.0

If you like true crime books, John Douglas’ books are mandatory reads. He was the head of the FBI’s Behavioral Science Unit in the 70s and him and his group basically created the term “serial killer.” He has interviewed and studied hundreds of serial killers to try to understand their motives, modus operandi and psychology.
I highly recommend reading his previous books: Mindhunter, The Killer Across the Table, and The Cases That Haunt Us.

The Killer’s Shadow details step by step the hunt for Joseph Paul Franklin. He was a white supremacist serial killer who was shooting innocent black people all over the country in the 80s. Since he was moving around a lot, it was very difficult to link him to different killings.

This book intrigued me because as John Douglas says, Franklin scared and repulsed him as much as Charles Manson did. If John Douglas, a man who’s talked to the most terrifying serial killers, defines Franklin as as repulsive as Manson, I want to read about him.

Franklin was caught after killing two young black men in Cincinnati. He was being held in the Florence, KY prison for interrogation when he escaped. And that’s when John Douglas enters. They were suspicious that Franklin was responsible for more killings besides the two men in Cincinnati.

This was a challenge for John Douglas since he was used to profiling possible serial killers before they’re caught, not going after a killer who has already been caught and escaped. Nonetheless, the police needed John Douglas to profile Franklin and see if he really was the most likely suspect for the killings.

This book is very detailed and as always, while reading Douglas’ books, I feel like I’m in a very interesting class and he’s the best teacher I’ve ever had. Everything is very well explained and he makes it easy to digest the information. I’m sure part of it is because Mark Oshaker is his writing partner and he’s awesome as well.

Please note that this detailed story has some graphic and potentially upsetting content. They quote Franklin a lot and everything he says about black people and Jews is gruesome and appalling. His hate for mixed race couples is tremendous. He was a member of the Ku Klux Klan and Nazi-inspired groups, and the reason why he left these groups was because he thought they were all about talking and no action. And he wanted to take action on his mission of exterminating black people. Yes, awful.

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