Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Book Review: The Profiler

After some excellent experiences jumping back into a wider genre of books (My Reading Life and Lost On Planet China, which will be reviewed later on) I decided to keep with non-fiction for a while and read one that I've been looking forward to since I received it for review from the publisher.  The Profiler is a book about, you guessed it, a criminal profiler. 

Fun fact, in high school I wanted to be a profiler.  My plan was to get a degree in psychology, then a graduate degree in criminal pathology.  Anyway, I'm obviously interested in the topic and I love reading about psychopathology and what makes criminals tick and all that stuff.  I can watch 20/20 and 48 Hours forever.  I was excited to read this one, especially when I learned in the opening section that the titular profiler was, at one time, a homeschool mom.  I love homeschool!  But then the book happened.

The writing wasn't great.  It's non-fiction and written by a profiler (and Bob Andelman, who is presumably her ghost writer) so I wasn't expecting a great work of creative, literary writing.  After all, she's a profiler, not an author.  But Bob should have known better in a lot of places.  I have nothing against ghost writing in non-fiction.  I've helped to ghost write a book.  The author provides the expert analysis and the writer is the one who should know how to make the author's story sound well-written.  The fact is that this book was just not well-written.  Sentence structure, use of dialogue, grammar, it all needed editing.

I really thought that despite the writing, I would enjoy this book.  I'm really not that picky in non-fiction.  Really.  It doesn't have to be perfect as long as I can tell that the author is an expert in his or her field.  But that really did not come across in this book.  The author became interested in profiling when she suspected a boarder at her house committed a murder.  The police did not accept her evidence and never arrested the man.  But she went on to get a Master's Degree in Criminal Justice.  And declared herself a profiler.  Which kind of disturbed me - she actually talks about how she just got her degree and made up some business cards and a website and started doing interviews on the news. 

Had she demonstrated in the book what an awesome profiler she was, I might have decided that this is a legitimate way to become a profiler.  However, all of her case studies described cases where no arrests were ever made.  She presents evidence for why she thought a specific person committed the crime, but her assistance never leads to an arrest, much less a conviction.  It certainly didn't make me feel confident in her abilities, because I figure she'd want to show the reader her most successful cases.  Instead we get a set of stories about how she knew the killer, but the police wouldn't believe her or she just couldn't prove it. 

I also wondered why police all over the country seemed to have such a problem with her.  It wasn't just police in one city - in every story, all across the country, the police or the DA has an issue with her and refuses to accept her expertise.  It made me wonder if ALL the police are wrong or if this woman may be wrong.  Also, a LOT of the families she worked for, who originally hired her to assist in the cases, are no longer speaking to her.  Hmmmm....

Ok, so to sum up, I didn't like it and I don't really recommend it.  I hate to feel like I'm tearing a book apart, but in this case I just couldn't get past the fact that the author seems to never close cases and is only a self-proclaimed profiler with a Master's degree in Criminal Justice.  Not that I'm knocking Criminal Justice, but I work at a school with a Master's program in CJ so I'm familiar with the curriculum and just having that degree doesn't make you qualified to be a profiler, in my opinion.  When a lack of faith in the expertise of the author is combined with sloppy writing, I just can't get into it.

1 comment:

  1. Hopping by from the Hop. Ugh, too bad this one wasn't good...the premise sounds really interesting. I'm always looking out for good nonfiction, so if you have any recommendations, stop on by! Your cat is seriously cute!