The Killer’s Shadow: The FBI’s Hunt for a White Supremacist Serial Killer (Files of the FBI’s Original Mindhunter Book 1)
By John Douglas & Mark Olshaker
The legendary FBI criminal profiler and international bestselling author of Mindhunter and The Killer Across the Table returns with this timely, relevant book that goes to the heart of extremism and domestic terrorism, examining in-depth his chilling pursuit of, and eventual prison confrontation with Joseph Paul Franklin, a White Nationalist serial killer and one of the most disturbing psychopaths he has ever encountered.
Worshippers stream out of an Midwestern synagogue after sabbath services, unaware that only a hundred yards away, an expert marksman and avowed racist, antisemite and member of the Ku Klux Klan, patiently awaits, his hunting rifle at the ready.
The October 8, 1977 shooting was a forerunner to the tragedies and divisiveness that plague us today. John Douglas, the FBI’s pioneering, first full-time criminal profiler, hunted the shooter—a white supremacist named Joseph Paul Franklin, whose Nazi-inspired beliefs propelled a three-year reign of terror across the United States, targeting African Americans, Jews, and interracial couples. In addition, Franklin bombed the home of Jewish leader Morris Amitay, shot and paralyzed Hustler magazine publisher Larry Flynt, and seriously wounded civil rights leader Vernon Jordan. The fugitive supported his murderous spree robbing banks in five states, from Georgia to Ohio.
Douglas and his writing partner Mark Olshaker return to this disturbing case that reached the highest levels of the Bureau, which was fearful Franklin would become a presidential assassin—and haunted him for years to come as the threat of copycat domestic terrorist killers increasingly became a reality. Detailing the dogged pursuit of Franklin that employed profiling, psychology and meticulous detective work, Douglas and Olshaker relate how the case was a make-or-break test for the still-experimental behavioral science unit and revealed a new type of, determined, mission-driven serial killer whose only motivation was hate.
A riveting, cautionary tale rooted in history that continues to echo today, The Killer’s Shadow is a terrifying and essential exploration of the criminal personality in the vile grip of extremism and what happens when rage-filled speech evolves into deadly action and hatred of the “other” is allowed full reign.
My thoughts: If you like books about criminal profilers from the FBI, and the seriously twisted killers they are after, this book fits the bill. Back in the mid 1970s, profiling was just beginning to get a start, with it getting a chance to be used outside the FBI by other agencies. This case would help to highlight its effectiveness and bring it more into use, if all went well as John Douglas took off to try and help catch the guy who’d been shooting people at random all over the country. His name was Joseph Paul Franklin, but he also used many false names as well.
Profiler Douglas had been requested to assist police as things got bad, with Franklin randomly killing minority folks and mixed couples, showing his hatred for non-whites. He would even go after prominent white people, if he felt his reasons were good enough like when he wrote his letter to President Carter. He also wanted to show how he felt about Jewish people as well, so he began targeting them too. Franklin grew up with a lot of mistreatment and he wanted to let out his anger and rage when he felt like it. Abusing his wives wasn’t enough. He had this “mission” that he had come up with to kill as many of his targeted types of people as he could, and he was going to follow it through. Franklin became fairly proficient at robbing banks to keep himself going while he was on his mission. I found it to be an excellent look at a not too well known killer who was active in the 70s for 3 years. The case helped bring profiling into the mainstream as it helped them narrow down who to look at more, and who could be ruled out. Advance electronic review copy was provided by NetGalley, authors John Douglas & Mark Olshaker, and the publisher.
Publisher: Dey Street Books – 304 pages
Published: Nov 17th, 2020
My rating: 5/5 STARS
About the Author–
John Douglas, the legendary FBI criminal profiler and veteran author of true crime books, has spent over twenty-five years researching and culling the stories of America’s most disturbing criminals. A veteran of the United States Air Force, he has directly worked and/or had overall supervision in over 5,000 violent crime cases over the past 48 years. He is currently chairman of the board of the “Cold Case Foundation.” One of the foremost experts and investigators of criminal minds and motivations, he currently lives in the Washington, D.C. area.
Mark Olshaker is an Emmy Award-winning documentary filmmaker and author of ten nonfiction books and five novels, including Einstein’s Brain and The Edge. His books with former FBI Special Agent and criminal profiling pioneer John Douglas, beginning with Mindhunter and, most recently, Law & Disorder, have sold millions of copies and have been translated into many languages. Mindhunter is now a dramatic series on Netflix, directed by David Fincher. He and his wife Carolyn, an attorney, live in Washington, D.C.