A dramatic true-crime memoir by America’s Most Wanted correspondent Boylan, who is renowned for “profiling” skills, which have resulted in uncanny sketches of notorious criminals (ranging from Polly Klaas’s kidnapper to the Unabomber).
Boylan began her career as a crime-fighter in the late 1970s as a civilian investigative assistant in rural Oregon, where her habit of deviating from standardized interrogatory patterns in interviewing crime victims was viewed as threateningly feminine by her superiors, and nearly got her fired. Later, working for the more sophisticated Portland PD, she refined her unorthodox techniques (which relied on intense but sensitive questioning of victims and witnesses to produce a more accurate recall of suspects’ appearances) in thousands of cases. Her reputation rapidly grew, as demonstrated by the string of nationally known cases to which she was summoned (despite periodic attempts to “retire”) as an expert consultant. These include many that resulted in high-profile convictions (such as the Ennis Cosby killing and the Ruth Mayer kidnapping), as well as the controversial sketches of Timothy McVeigh’s still-unidentified accomplice in the Tulsa bombing. Boylan narrates this story in a warm, appealing fashion, albeit one subject to occasional wanderings or repetitions (especially concerning her relationship with her long-suffering, caddish husband—a law-enforcement retiree who grows intensely envious of Boylan’s celebrated career). She’s shocked by their prolonged breakup, but it’s a plot twist that greenhorn sleuths will see coming. That said, Boylan herself appears as an admirable and striking figure, one determined to aid the victims of horrific acts even in spite of her own chaotic, increasingly media-haunted life. Although not a trained criminologist (and therefore free from crime-theory’s shackles), Boylan also offers insights on memory trauma and on the correct way to handle victims and witnesses.
Should be considered and enjoyed by those in and out of the crime-fighting field.