The Killer Across the Table: Unlocking the Secrets of Serial Killers and Predators with the FBI’s Original Mindhunter is one of several non-fiction books on serial killers and what makes them tick. What makes Douglas’ work unique is his decades of experience in developing (along with others in the FBI) the science and art of criminal profiling murderers who kill until they are stopped and where the killings cannot be tied back to financial gain (or loss) or the wish of the killer to rid himself of a particular individual.
Through extensive case review and equally extensive interviewing of the killers after their capture and imprisonment, Douglas probes the minds of the killers to get a complete and accurate portrait as possible of the killers’ psychological, physical, and intelligence makeup to get at what led them to start killing, how they transformed from one murder to serial killing, and why they could not stop. The goal of Douglas, unlike most other books written on serial killers, is to increase detection, deterrence, prosecution, and permanent removal from society (through death or life without parole sentences) predators who cannot be rehabilitated and whose only function (and most often desire) is to kill whomever wherever whenever the mood strikes them.
Unlike other books that I have read on serial killers (Son: A Psychopath and His Victims by Jack Olsen, I’ll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara, American Predator: The Hunt for the Most Meticulous Serial Killer of the 21st Century by Maureen Callahan, and to a lesser extent, The Manson Women and Me: Monsters, Morality, and Murder by Nikki Meredith), Douglas is not a narrative-driven account of the killings and the aftermath (arrest, trial, sentence). Douglas goes into detail of the killings as well as what led to the discovery and capture of each of the killers. However, The Killer Across the Table: Unlocking the Secrets of Serial Killers and Predators with the FBI’s Original Mindhunter has a more analytical feel in the writing as he compares and contrasts various serial murderers and their crimes while also comparing and contrasting his findings with those of law enforcement agencies, psychologists and psychiatrists, prosecutors, and defense counsel.