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From law enforcement legend John Douglas, the FBI’s pioneer of criminal profiling and the model for Agent Jack Crawford in The Silence of the Lambs, comes a provocative and personal look at our criminal justice system and mankind’s most abominable crime: murder. Delving more deeply into the subject than ever before, Douglas shares his unique perspective on some of his most notorious cases—and reveals how a high-profile crime can challenge even the most seasoned investigator.

Over the course of his nearly forty-year career, John Douglas has pursued, studied, and interviewed criminals including Charles Manson, James Earl Ray, Dennis Rader, and David Berkowitz—a veritable Who’s Who of violent predators. But he has also devoted extensive energies to helping the wrongfully accused and convicted, including several inmates of death row. Now, with longtime co-author and collaborator Mark Olshaker, Douglas addresses every law enforcement professional’s worst nightmare: cases in which justice was delayed, or even denied. Eloquently and passionately, he speaks up not only for victims of crime—but for victims of the system itself.

In fascinating and meticulous detail he recreates his ground-breaking findings in the investigation of the West Memphis Three and the bungled trial of Amanda Knox; how he reached his controversial conclusions in the JonBenet Ramsey murder; and his involvement in other historic, headline-making cases. Douglas reveals what happens when preconceived ideas, bias, superstition, and even media coverage obstruct a dispassionate pursuit of the evidence—and shows what we must do to avoid modern-day re-enactments of the Salem Witch Trials.

Brimming with gripping narratives and shedding light on some of our most mystifying questions about guilt and innocence, Law & Disorder is an unrestrained account of the exhilaration and frustration that attend the quest for justice, from the most prominent criminal investigator of our time.


From Biblical times to the present, the pursuit of justice has challenged mankind. As Governor of Florida, a state with more than its share of criminal cases that have attracted national attention, I had a chief executive’s role in the administration of justice. LAW & DISORDER is a fascinating and important study of the path that begins with suspicion and can lead all the way to execution. Through intriguing, often-heartbreaking stories and unforgettable characters, Douglas and Olshaker infuse clarity into the challenges, mysteries and moral ambiguities that frequently cloud our search for equal justice for all.-
Bob Graham, former US Senator & Governor of Florida

Without John Douglas’s work on the West Memphis Three case, it is doubtful that three men who were wrongfully imprisoned for eighteen years would now be free.-
Peter Jackson, Director

A fascinating and, at times, graphic tour of the criminal mind. . . An essential title for those interested in true crime stories, forensic science, or law enforcement-
Library Journal

From a pioneer of behavioral analysis, a look at notorious murder investigations marred by controversy. Well-known FBI profiler Douglas has co-authored several books with Olshaker on this specialty (The Cases that Haunt Us, 2000, etc.). Here, he focuses on diverse cases that share one commonality: Either the investigation developed around false leads with disastrous results, or the actual killer was targeted yet saw justice confounded by similar procedural issues. “The role of the profiler is to redirect or refocus an investigation and to help police narrow and analyze their suspect list,” he writes. The cases he discusses here are those he did not address as an active-duty agent, and he often wonders if he would have fared better as an investigator. In at least two cases, he reluctantly argues that wrongful convictions led to miscarriages of justice. William Heirens served a life sentence as Chicago’s “Lipstick Killer,” yet Douglas believes him innocent: “I would have considered him too young to…make the leap from petty burglaries to violent rapes and murders.” He also argues that Texas executed Cameron Todd Willingham for the arson murders of his children based on scientific theories that were disproven well before the execution. The author devotes long sections to two notorious cases: the murder of JonBenet Ramsey and the wrongfully convicted West Memphis Three. He consulted in both cases and remains convinced that shoddy evidence management, prosecutorial overreach and media frenzies led to false accusations with dreadful consequences. Douglas remains fascinated by the nitty-gritty of advanced investigation, and he smoothly explains key evidentiary details and psychological twists, though he becomes impatient with those who question his conclusions. Yet, his thesis remains bifurcated: He both agonizes over the prospect of an innocent person being executed and strongly argues that the death penalty ought to protect society from the “worst of the worst,” sadistic repeat offenders like Ted Bundy. The prose is mostly workmanlike, but in a culture besotted with serial killers, Douglas can claim a rare authenticity regarding the evil that men do.-

Kirkus Reviews

Law & Disorder is a brilliant and fascinating book. Highly recommended!-
Douglas Preston, Best-selling author of Relic and The Monster of Florence


16 Responses to Law & Disorder

  1. […] Mindhunter, based loosely on the real-life research of former FBI special agent and unit chief John Edward Douglas – one of the first criminal profilers and author of several books on criminal psychology […]

  2. […] Mindhunter, based loosely on the real-life research of former FBI special agent and unit chief John Edward Douglas, one of the first criminal profilers and author of several books on criminal psychology, proves […]

  3. catherineturley says:

    i’ve read everything except ‘law and disorder’. i’ve been looking at the west memphis three case lately, and i’m just about to buy it. without reading it, i know douglas’ conclusion and i can’t reconcile it with the mental health reports on echols which claim he was involved in fire starting and animal killing. does douglas consider all of the reports to be unsubstantiated? from what i have gleaned about echols’ personality and behavior during his youth, douglas’ profile fits him pretty well. i’m hoping that whatever it is that i’m missing will be thoroughly explained in the book. tell me i’m right.

    • Rainsong says:

      A lot of Damien Echols’ psych report is questionable as much of its source material is from Jerry Driver, the probation officer who seems to have had a “woody” for Damien. While people often do have destructive thoughts–especially teenagers–the majority of us do not act on them. As far as I have been able to find, there is no validity to the stories of Damien killing a dog or any other animal. You can find all documents online. Not sure if I can post a link but google Callahan and WM3 and jivepuppi + WM3.

      Did Damien have psychological problems as a teenager? Sure. Didn’t we all? If I told a therapist some of my teenage thoughts, I’d probably still be locked up in an institution. I’m old, but not so old that I’ve forgotten all my teenage angst, destructive ideas or feelings of being an outsider, even in my own family.

      For some strange reason, I bought both the hardback and the Kindle edition of Law and Disorder. Both editions were terrific as usual. They led me to great source material online and to other books on the case. It wasn’t until after reading all these sources that I went to youtube to watch the documentaries.

      What puzzles me is why everyone is fixated on blood, or lack thereof, at the scene. If land animal predation is the cause of the severe injuries to Chris Byers, how did the boys end up in the water? To me, this makes no sense. Sure, land animals would likely lap up any blood but they sure wouldn’t put the kids in the ditch.

      If marine animal predation was the cause, then logically the blood would have been carried away in the water.

      Given the marks on the bodies that supposedly came from the “lake knife” and the discredited Turvey “bite marks,” this seems to be the most likely scenario. The lake knife’s serrations were not regularly spaced as were the marks on the bodies and the bite marks didn’t look human to me at all.

  4. Journey into Darkness and the Anatomy of Motive will always be favorites of mine. I greatly appreciated Crime Classification Manual as well. (both editions.) I’m currently working my way through the 3rd edition of Tuvey’s Introduction of Behavioral Evidence Analysis. Good books…

  5. Cornerstone says:

    I’m also from Texas, and though I started out neutral on Gov. Perry, I have since come to believe he is a man whose perspective is limited by the narrow moralistic (note I didn’t say “moral”) constraints of his backers. He has made decision after decision insulting to women and continues to toe the line of right-wing fundamentalists. Religious education has no part in our public schools except to teach that there are many many different religions, including people who do without entirely. We have churches on every corner for those who wish to pursue a religious education and we live in a country where we are all free to choose which one, so no need to foist it upon those who don’t want it.

  6. Bravesirrobyn says:

    I read this book and as with all John Douglas books, I couldn’t put it down. However, there is one section that disappointed me, on more than one level. I am from Texas, although I do not currently live there. I am also a Rick Perry supporter. I have always believed him to be a moral, God-fearing man who would look at all sides of a situation if someone’s life were at stake, such as in the case of Cameron Todd Willingham. I did not get the impression that Mr. Douglas or Mr. Olshaker met Gov. Perry in person, but I will accept that in this case, for some reason, the governor did not look at the new evidence in considering a stay of execution for Willingham. If this is the case, it is certainly very wrong.
    However, Douglas and Olshaker go on to characterize Gov. Perry as some ignorant, uneducated hick, which he is certainly not. Gov. Perry has a degree in animal science from Texas A & M University, and his wife has a masters degree in nursing. What is more troubling than this, however, is the reference to Gov. Perry’s advocation of the teaching of Intelligent Design along with evolution in the public school curriculum. Advocating Intelligent Design is not the same as teaching Creationism, which would be teaching a literal Biblical account of the origins of the universe. Intelligent Design simply means that Someone or Something designed and created the universe, or simply that everything did not happen by random chance. I respectfully put forth the question, sirs, how is this not scientific? Your own field of expertise is based on intelligent design. You yourselves are able to see the difference in planned human activity, and the random results of feeding, carnivorous animals, such as that reported in the WM3 case. You are able to see patterns, to see design, which is evidence for earlier behaviour. That is the very basis of all science. If there were no patterns or “laws” governing nature, science would be impossible. If our own flawed rules that govern our everyday life could not have happened by chance, how could those that govern the universe? I put it to you that Gov. Perry’s belief in Intelligent Design does not provide evidence for unscientific thinking; it does the opposite.
    I do realize, however, that Gov. Perry’s scientific understanding and knowledge would in fact make him more culpable if he did refuse to look at new evidence in the Willingham case. A person with a science degree should know better. Whatever his reasons were, rest assured it had nothing to do with a belief in Intelligent Design, or that such a belief would correlate with scientific ignorance.

    • Thank you for your thoughtful and insightful comments, Robyn.
      Governor Perry’s record on the Willingham case is well established and we stand by what we wrote. The scientific evidence in this case was overwhelming and Governor Perry chose to ignore it. We do not have to judge him. If he believes in a higher authority, he will one day have to answer to that authority.
      In the meantime, all we have done is report the facts. It is a fact that Governor Perry characterized evolution as one “theory” and suggested that there are other alternative explanations. True, but those other explanations are not in the realm of science. By its very name, intelligent design implies an intelligence that is neither provable nor demonstrable by science. Therefore, it cannot be scientific. It is a matter of faith and conjecture. That doesn’t mean it is wrong or untrue, it is simply not provable or disprovable and therefore not scientific in the sense that evolution is. We assure Governor Perry understands the difference between science and faith and he clearly demonstrated neither in the Willingham case.
      It is gratifying to have readers like you who read and analyze this closely.

  7. Cornerstone says:

    I am in the middle of reading “Law and Disorder now.” In the early eightes, I was told by a friend that a small group of Austin “goths” were being interrogated for the murders of employees at a Kentucky Fried Chicken, and the press was calling them a vampire cult. I was and remain confused about it because at the time, I thought the KFC was in Austin, but anytime I have tried looking it up, like just now Googling it, I only find reference to the KFC murder/abductions in Kilgore, TX, which is nowwhere near Austin. However, I remember hearing the press accounts about the vampire cult in connection to the murders. It’s possible it was two separate murders at KFC. If so, I can’t find anything about the Austin one.

    I came from the music subculture in Dallas and was very involved with three generations of music subcultures because I was in the business, and the idea that this little subculture group, whose primary focus was music, were some kind of Satanic murderers was laughable, and I was appalled by the direction the investigation was going and the ridiculous assumptions being promoted by the media.

    When I saw the news reports about the tragic murders in Arkansas and saw the photos of the boys, I knew it was completely unfounded. When you live in the music subculture, you can pretty much tell just about all you need to know about someone by how they look, their general demeanor, and their music choices. I was a professional “ear” and if someone gave me a list of a person’s music collection, I could just about draw you a picture of that person and what else they were into. Having come originally from a small-minded community of Fundamentalist Christians who said everyone who wasn’t baptized in their church were children of the devil, I know all too well how quick these communities are to burn witches. Your statement reiterated in “Law and Disorder” about your finding no evidence of these type cult murders undermines the foundation of belief of many congregations around the country and will, of course, be ignored by them, but perhaps taken to heart by others in the community, some of who may be relied on to intervene.

    I just want to thank you for being that one voice of reason who isn’t afraid to jump into the ring and save innocent people from these small pools of stupidity, prejudice and corruption. I have seen generation after generation of harmless people from subcultures blamed for the acts of others. Those boys aren’t murderers any more than Charles Manson was a hippie.

  8. JClark says:

    Can’t wait to read the book! I think I have every book John’s written…even the Crime Classification Manual and Sexual Homicides: Patterns and Motive.

    Wondering you’ll ever do a book on arsonists? I live in Virginia and there appears to be a serial arsonist in Accomack County.

  9. watson says:

    Well, of course I look forward to reading it, especially the part about the infamous JBR case. As a non professional looking at the same evidence JD did as a professional I came to exactly the opposite conclusion as he, the only time that’s happened in a JD covered case. I had thought the vast majority of evidence indicated the father most likely did it, but there was not enough for proof beyond reasonable doubt. I never figured the mother did it as no evidence pointed toward her (unless we count police fantasy). Over the years in revisiting the case I became less and less convinced the father did it, and it’ll be fascinating to read how JD so early on came to his conclusion clearing the father.

  10. elLeNovo says:

    Already ordered my copy! Would love to have it signed but it looks like they don’t do that outside America 🙁
    The psychology of these topics fascinates me, but as a victim of (multiple) crimes, I think what I enjoy the most is that 99 times out of 100, the good guys win.
    The horror of what I read these victims go thru breaks my heart, but it’s nothing compared to the satisfaction of reading how the unsub’s are caught and punished.
    There’s a special place in heaven for men like Mark and John. Bless you both, from Australia 🙂

  11. amantdopera says:

    As à Swede I simply can’t imagine the fact that a whole army of police officers go wild and shoot at pregnant women and children in strollers, but this is exactly what happened in California somewhere. I have seen this in YouTube I have also seen police officers harass humiliate and beat innocent people who were only walking on the streets. A big man a marine officer from the the war zone in Afghanistan could never believe his eyes when he saw what the New York police force was doing to his own people. He said that people would be more safe in Afghanistan than out in the streets of New York. To tell you I felt very bad at seeing all these bullies in uniform torture even old vulnerable people. There was a video clip of a seemingly 85 year old woman who was beaten to the ground with a baton by a female police officer. As a result the old woman was lying there on the ground with a bleeding head unconscious. How can this horror happen without your president intervening ? If this description of your police force is really true. You had better be without a police force which you taxpayers must pay a lot to support. Personally I have had bad nightmares after having seen these unjustified horrors. I am a Swede I simply don’t understand. Have these bullies in uniform nothing better to do than harassing beating and killing innocent people?

    • NoPurpleKoolAid says:

      Dear Nice Swedish Person, I quickly make several points for your benefit. 1) This website belongs not to the police or even a former police officer – he is ex-FBI. He helps solve murder cases by extrapolating the nature of the killer through clues of behavior called modus operandi. He does not wear a uniform or carry a gun that you’d notice. 2) I am from California, this author is not. In fact, he is from the opposite side of the U.S. 3) We are ALL sick of, mad at, and ready to go crazy with the poor training of a LOT of police officers and sheriff’s deputies in this country. The problem is emblematic of corruption and imbalance of power. It has generated tons of bad will and distrust from the communities these officers claim to serve. However, the only people this country trusts less than the cops is the media. Do not believe everything you hear or see in the press. And realize U.S. citizens are going to handle this problem themselves. We are the victims of this malfeasance.

  12. kristin1512000 says:

    I eagerly await the release of this book. I hope you offer some autographed copies because I’d love the opportunity to have one.

  13. ceci says:

    Great book cover!

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