The prose is mostly workmanlike, but in a culture besotted with serial killers, Douglas can claim a rare authenticity...

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LAW AND DISORDER

THE LEGENDARY FBI PROFILER'S RELENTLESS PURSUIT OF JUSTICE

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.

Pub Date: March 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-7582-7312-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Kensington

Review Posted Online: Jan. 21, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2013

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Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

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UNTAMED

More life reflections from the bestselling author on themes of societal captivity and the catharsis of personal freedom.

In her third book, Doyle (Love Warrior, 2016, etc.) begins with a life-changing event. “Four years ago,” she writes, “married to the father of my three children, I fell in love with a woman.” That woman, Abby Wambach, would become her wife. Emblematically arranged into three sections—“Caged,” “Keys,” “Freedom”—the narrative offers, among other elements, vignettes about the soulful author’s girlhood, when she was bulimic and felt like a zoo animal, a “caged girl made for wide-open skies.” She followed the path that seemed right and appropriate based on her Catholic upbringing and adolescent conditioning. After a downward spiral into “drinking, drugging, and purging,” Doyle found sobriety and the authentic self she’d been suppressing. Still, there was trouble: Straining an already troubled marriage was her husband’s infidelity, which eventually led to life-altering choices and the discovery of a love she’d never experienced before. Throughout the book, Doyle remains open and candid, whether she’s admitting to rigging a high school homecoming court election or denouncing the doting perfectionism of “cream cheese parenting,” which is about “giving your children the best of everything.” The author’s fears and concerns are often mirrored by real-world issues: gender roles and bias, white privilege, racism, and religion-fueled homophobia and hypocrisy. Some stories merely skim the surface of larger issues, but Doyle revisits them in later sections and digs deeper, using friends and familial references to personify their impact on her life, both past and present. Shorter pieces, some only a page in length, manage to effectively translate an emotional gut punch, as when Doyle’s therapist called her blooming extramarital lesbian love a “dangerous distraction.” Ultimately, the narrative is an in-depth look at a courageous woman eager to share the wealth of her experiences by embracing vulnerability and reclaiming her inner strength and resiliency.

Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-0125-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

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BECOMING

The former first lady opens up about her early life, her journey to the White House, and the eight history-making years that followed.

It’s not surprising that Obama grew up a rambunctious kid with a stubborn streak and an “I’ll show you” attitude. After all, it takes a special kind of moxie to survive being the first African-American FLOTUS—and not only survive, but thrive. For eight years, we witnessed the adversity the first family had to face, and now we get to read what it was really like growing up in a working-class family on Chicago’s South Side and ending up at the world’s most famous address. As the author amply shows, her can-do attitude was daunted at times by racism, leaving her wondering if she was good enough. Nevertheless, she persisted, graduating from Chicago’s first magnet high school, Princeton, and Harvard Law School, and pursuing careers in law and the nonprofit world. With her characteristic candor and dry wit, she recounts the story of her fateful meeting with her future husband. Once they were officially a couple, her feelings for him turned into a “toppling blast of lust, gratitude, fulfillment, wonder.” But for someone with a “natural resistance to chaos,” being the wife of an ambitious politician was no small feat, and becoming a mother along the way added another layer of complexity. Throw a presidential campaign into the mix, and even the most assured woman could begin to crack under the pressure. Later, adjusting to life in the White House was a formidable challenge for the self-described “control freak”—not to mention the difficulty of sparing their daughters the ugly side of politics and preserving their privacy as much as possible. Through it all, Obama remained determined to serve with grace and help others through initiatives like the White House garden and her campaign to fight childhood obesity. And even though she deems herself “not a political person,” she shares frank thoughts about the 2016 election.

An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6313-8

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 30, 2018

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