LAW & CRIME

How To Catch a Killer: Hunting and Capturing the World’s Most Notorious Serial Killers

Sterling. (Profiles in Crime, Bk. 1). Jul. 2020. 312p. ISBN 9781454939375. pap. $17.95. CRIME
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Forensic psychologist Ramsland (forensic psychology & criminal justice, DeSales Univ.; Confession of a Serial Killer) analyzed 300 serial killer cases, focusing on how the perpetrators were brought to justice. She grouped the cases into five categories, from those who were caught only because of innovations in forensics to those who simply surrendered. Here, Ramsland selects cases that best exemplify her categories. The Golden State Killer’s identity was revealed through DNA testing. The Chessboard Killer erred in targeting a coworker instead of a stranger. Eyewitnesses spotted the Son of Sam’s distinctive yellow car near multiple crime scenes. Ramsland’s methodology allows her to incorporate lesser-known killers and to include international examples such as a German “werewolf,” a sinister Italian soap maker, and a Japanese suicide specialist. Each of her 30 entries progresses logically from “The Crimes” to “The Capture” to “The Takeaway.” Her absorbing narratives include grisly details, but emphasis on criminology elevates the text.
VERDICT A focus on how killers are caught brings a fresh approach even to familiar cases. Ramsland presents concise, compelling examples of the progress of police work over the last century. Highly recommended for true crime buffs.

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