Criminal profiling is a fascinating process, a mix of psychology and criminology
that tends to create divided reactions: people seem to think it’s either magic
or complete BS. The reality is that it’s neither. Profiling takes a crime and
predicts the type of person most likely to have committed it – profiles can be
as vague as a “white male in his twenties” (which has become a bit of a joke
about profiling serial killers) or as specific as “a man in his forties who
works a blue-collar job during the second shift, is divorced, has at least one
child, and drives a dark-colored sedan.” Narrowing down type of person helps
law enforcement center their search and the FBI has an entire unit devoted to
the job. Now called the Behavioral Analysis Unit (BAU), it’s been
memorialized in both fiction and non-fiction:
CRIMINAL MINDS: Although some of the details of the show are just literary license for the sake of fast-moving plot (the BAU’s own private jet, all the profilers flying to consult on each big case, the active “door-kicking” roles the agents take in most of the cases), the profiles themselves are pretty solid. And they should be – the show works with a retired FBI profiler.
SILENCE OF THE LAMBS: The book may have been written more than twenty years ago, but it still stands as one of the most well-known books involving profiling. And it’s ironic, because in a great twist, it’s not actually the FBI doing the profiling. Most of that is done by another incarcerated felon (Hannibal
Lecter). And the villain they’re chasing is actually a consolidation of three real serial killers.
LISA GARDNER’S QUINCY PIERCE: Bestselling author Lisa Gardner created a series of books revolving around FBI profiler Quincy Pierce, introduced back in 1997. He’s been so popular he’s returning in her upcoming 2017 book, RIGHT BEHIND YOU. Gardner takes the research seriously, having visited Quantico and spoken to a number of law enforcement officials to create her books.
My Profiler series: Fascinated by the idea of an FBI agent who approached crime scenes in a completely different way than what you usually see – by looking at the behavioral evidence instead of the physical evidence – I spent years researching the FBI, profiling and the psychology of crime. Then, I created FBI
profiler Evelyn Baine, who chose the profession at twelve years old after her
best friend went missing and was never found. Evelyn returns in STALKED at the end of the month, trying to figure out what happened to a missing teenager who left behind a note foretelling her own death.
This book by retired FBI profiler John Douglas isn’t fiction. It’s the real
story encompassing his twenty-five years at the FBI, including many of the
well-known serial criminals he profiled. Some of the specifics are now out of
date (the profiling unit is no longer the BSU, and a lot of how the FBI works –
and what profilers are likely to work – has changed), but the nitty-gritty
details of profiling are all in here. Warning: Real profiling involves
analyzing crime scenes to determine the sort of person most likely to have
committed the crime, and that means delving into some gruesome details.
Elizabeth Heiter likes her suspense to feature strong heroines, chilling villains, psychological twists, and a little bit (or a lot!) of romance. Her research has taken her into the minds of serial killers, through murder investigations, and onto the FBI Academy’s shooting range.
Elizabeth graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in English Literature. She’s a member of International Thriller Writers and Romance Writers of America. Fresh Fiction called her debut suspense
HUNTED a “fast paced and thrilling start to a new series,” Affaire de
Coeur gave it 5 stars, calling it “very well done with a fantastic ending,”
and Bookreporter said HUNTED was “a thriller that grabs readers from the
first page…Heiter has hit a high note right at the start of her writing