INTO THE MINDS OF MADMEN: How the FBI's Behavioral Science Unit Revolutionized Crime Investigation

Don DeNevi, Author, John H. Campbell, Author, John E. Otto, Foreword by . Prometheus $28 (438p) ISBN 978-1-59102-135-3

DeNevi (Mob Nemesis; Riddle of the Rock) and Campbell (former chief of the FBI's Behavioral Science Unit) write in their introduction: "Although officially authorized by the FBI, the book is far from a bland, bureaucratic puff piece that covers up mistakes and elevates every minor accomplishment into a brilliant triumph." Unfortunately, that's precisely what this book is, a button-down history that never gets more interesting than an interdepartmental memo. The authors seem determined to remind the reader that behind every gruesome or sensational crime there are untold hours of procedural drudgery, reams of paperwork and tangles of bureaucratic formalities. Formally established in 1972, the BSU was a radical departure from the spit-and-polish, by-the-book bureau of J. Edgar Hoover's day. Also known as the Investigative Support Unit, the BSU was the first law enforcement body to develop and systematize a method for profiling the psychological tendencies of criminal types based solely on crime scene evidence. While this innovation in modern criminology has fascinated the general public and inspired numerous films and television series, this book offers little discussion of profiling itself or how it works. Except for a cursory overview of the Unabomber investigation, it does not discuss specific cases or criminals. Instead, the authors offer a chronological inventory of courses, programs and administrative decisions; the résumés of several prominent BSU agents; and a grab bag of irrelevant anecdotes. (Oct.)

Reviewed on: 09/08/2003
Release date: 10/01/2003
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