Incendiary: The Psychiatrist, the Mad Bomber, and the Invention of Criminal Profiling

Minotaur: St. Martin's. Apr. 2017. 304p. notes. index. ISBN 9781250048943. $26.99; ebk. ISBN 9781250048936. CRIME
OrangeReviewStarEditor and journalist Cannell (The Limit: Life and Death on the 1961 Grand Prix Circuit) tells the riveting story of George Metesky, the "Mad Bomber" who terrorized New York for 16 years in the 1940s and 1950s. It is surprising that Metesky's role as seminal domestic terrorist is not more notorious, but this captivating book remedies that obscurity, illuminating the machinations of the man who perpetrated the bombings, along with the police personnel and psychiatrist who ultimately identified and captured him. Despite the police's labored attempts to catch him, Metesky eluded and frustrated the authorities for years, until they enlisted the aid of psychiatrist James A. Brussel. He provided an uncannily accurate psychological profile that led to Metesky's capture and eventual commitment to a hospital for the criminally insane. Brussel not only provided the crucial assessment leading to Metesky's arrest, but he also pioneered the field of criminal profiling. This story fascinates like the best police procedurals or true crime narratives.
VERDICT A sine qua non for readers intrigued by criminal minds, certain to engage fans of Gerold Frank's classic The Boston Strangler.
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