The Killer Across the Table

The Killer Across the Table by John E. Douglas and Mark Olshaker

A few months back I was browsing Netgalley out of boredom and to my surprise, The Killer Across the Table was available to request. I thought, why not? I’ve always been interested in True Crime, and it offered a nice change from genre fiction. That being said, thanks to the people at William Collins for granting me a copy in exchange of an honest review.

About the Book
Series: –Genre: Nonfiction, True Crime
Date of Publishing: May 7th 2019Trigger Warnings: Descriptions of violence, torture, abuse, rape both adults and children
Page count: 352Publisher: William Collins
Book Blurb
The Killer Across the Table by John E. Douglas

‘John Douglas is the FBI’s pioneer and master of investigative profiling, and one of the most exciting figures in law enforcement I’ve had the privilege of knowing’ Patricia Cornwell

‘John Douglas knows more about serial killers than anybody in the world’ Jonathan Demme, Director of The Silence of the Lambs

The legendary FBI criminal profiler, number-one New York Times bestselling author, and inspiration for the hit Netflix show Mindhunter delves deep into the lives and crimes of four of the most disturbing and complex predatory killers, offering never-before-revealed details about his profiling process, and divulging the strategies used to crack some of his most challenging cases.

The FBI’s pioneer of criminal profiling, former special agent John Douglas, has studied and interviewed many of America’s most notorious killers – including Charles Manson, ‘Son of Sam Killer’ David Berkowitz and ‘BTK Strangler’ Dennis Rader. Twenty years after his famous memoir, the man who literally wrote the book on FBI criminal profiling opens his case files once again. In this riveting work of true crime, he spotlights four of the most diabolical criminals he’s confronted, interviewed and learned from.

A glimpse into the mind of a man who has pierced the heart of human darkness, The Killer Across the Table unlocks the ultimate mystery of depravity and the techniques and approaches that have countered evil in the name of justice.

Quote of the Book

“That is where almost all of these guys go wrong – they can process other people only through their own self-centered emotional filters. It’s always all about them, and they cannot comprehend that my true empathy for them is about equal to what they showed for their victims.”

Song of the Book

I mean… Monsters by Shinedown is pretty fitting *shrug*


I’ve been interested in True Crime stories for years now. When I want to watch TV but there is nothing on, I always end up with Investigation Discovery as a default. I’ve been watching almost all of the CSI episodes (although I’m aware that investigations don’t quite work like that) and for a while, I was addicted to Criminal Minds. I’ve been wanting to read some True Crime books, but I never really got around to it and I had no idea where to start it. I came across The Killer Across the Table due to luck, little did I know that there is no better person than John E. Douglas to introduce me to the genre.

I need to start with stating that I had no idea who he was before I started reading. Though I did read up on him ever since. In case you are in the dark as well as I was, a quick recap: John E. Douglas is a retired FBI agent, who, along with his colleagues, made criminal profiling into what it is today. They started with interviewing several high profile serial killers to quick their project off. It’s all pretty fascinating. He and Mark Olshaker wrote several books on the topic, including Mindhunter on which the Netflix series is based. Which you totally should watch if you are into this kind of thing. I was listening to the audiobook, which was narrated by Jonathan Groff, who plays Holden Ford in the Mindhunter series, whose character is based on John Douglas. He also has a damn great voice.

In The Killer Across the Table, they focus mainly on four interviews/cases with Joseph McGowan, Joseph Kondro, Donald Harvey, and Todd Kohlhepp. I’ve only been familiar with the latter, as I’ve seen a documentary about his crimes on ID – made with Douglas‘ involvement. Through these very different cases, Douglas shows us how they conduct these interviews, how profiling can provide background knowledge, and basically what it means to be a profiler. He gives the reader plenty of information regarding each case – often pretty gruesome ones. If you can’t stomach reading about abuse, especially involving children, then I don’t recommend you to read this book.

Douglas also brings in a lot of comparison to other cases and interviews he did with even more infamous serial killers such as Charles Manson, Gary Ridgway, etc. This was great, but sometimes it was also distracting as the narrative wandered away to here and there (as did my mind), taking the tension out of the book. I think I wanted to feel like I was sitting in the room with John, a killer right there across the table, playing their mind games. This book is definitely informative, but I was just missing something that would make it stand out. But The Killer Across the Table definitely gives us a look into the process and if nothing else, makes us realize that profiling is not for the faint-hearted. That and real life is a whole lot different than crime TV shows.

Our Judgement
Might Require Their Services - 3.5 Crowns