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The Killer's Shadow: The FBI's Hunt for a White Supremacist Serial Killer    by John E. Douglas & Mark Olshaker order for
Killer's Shadow
by John E. Douglas
Order:  USA  Can
Dey Street Books, 2020 (2020)
Hardcover, Softcover, CD, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Famed FBI criminal profiler John E. Douglas, author of Mindhunter and The Killer Across the Table, now brings us The Killer's Shadow: The FBI's Hunt for a White Supremacist Serial Killer, co-authored with Mark Olshaker. It centers on the search for White Nationalist serial killer/psychopath Joseph Paul Franklin. It is especially relevant (and disturbing), given the recent resurgence of white supremacist violence.

Douglas shares his experiences in two parts: On the Hunt for a Killer and Into the Mind of a Monster. The first part opens in 1980 at Quantico, when Douglas was the only full time operational profiler. He had come up with the idea of prison interviews of violent predators, 'to transform Criminal Psych into an actual investigative tool.' He's asked to do an assessment to help find Joseph Paul Franklin, who had killed two black joggers (and was suspected of more murders) but had escaped custody.

Douglas takes us through his thinking and progress, along with the fact that the Franklin case could put profiling 'on the map' - there was a great deal at stake. He emphasizes the value of 'tedious shoe leather police work' performed by local investigators in solving crimes. He talks about 'venomous ideas' that 'can draw in and inspire other weak, disenfranchised losers.' He was particularly concerned that Franklin's killing spree might influence others in white supremacist circles.

Franklin had written a threatening letter to President Carter, which increased the pressure to find him. He ended up behind bars for life but 'his horrific legacy was just beginning.' The second part of this book covers Douglas's prison interviews and efforts to understand Franklin's 'unwavering dedication to fomenting hate'. He warns that 'Corrosive ideas, hate speech, conspiracies, and even potential crimes have a home online unlike any they have ever known' and that 'Thoughts and words matter. They have power - for both good and evil.'

I hope that this thought provoking book will get the attention it deserves, beyond true crime afficionados, though it will certainly fascinate them. Douglas concludes: 'The journey to reckon with our nation's searing history of racial hatred, intolerance and discrimination is ongoing, and there are no neutrals in that struggle.' Hear, hear!

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