A Killer by Design: Murderers, Mindhunters, and My Quest To Decipher the Criminal Mind

Hachette Audio. Dec. 2021. 9:02 hrs. ISBN 9781549135170. $25.98. CRIME
Burgess, a professor of forensic science at Boston Cornell School of Nursing, presents a riveting account of the beginnings of the criminal profiling and her work on many high-profile serial murder cases. In the ’70s, her work with sexual assault and trauma victims resulted in a groundbreaking study showing that sexual violence is rooted in a display of power rather than sexual gratification. Her work caught the attention of the FBI, who were witnessing an increase in violent sexual crimes. Burgess discusses how criminal profiling, which was proving to be effective in solving these cases, was in its infancy and still being formed. Several high-profile cases that she worked on are discussed: Dennis Rader (the “BTK Killer”), Ed Kemper, and cases that may not be as well known. Subsequent interviews with the criminals helped reveal patterns and common threads in behavioral traits that would advance the methods of criminal profiling. The book provides a fascinating glimpse into the development of the FBI’s Behavioral Science Unit as well as the minds of serial killers. The excellent narration by Gabra Zackman provides the appropriate intensity and suspense.
VERDICT A great addition to the true-crime library that offers a unique perspective.
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