Between Good and Evil by Roger L. Depue and Susan Schindehette: B

From the back cover:
No one gets closer to evil than a criminal profiler, trained to penetrate the hearts and minds of society’s most vicious psychopaths. And no one is a more towering figure in the world of criminal profilers than Roger L. Depue. Chief of the FBI Behavioral Science Unit at a time when its innovative work first came to prominence, he headed a renowned team of mind hunters. In a subbasement sixty feet under the Academy gun vault in Quantico, he broke new ground with analytical techniques and training programs that are still used today. After retiring from the FBI, he founded an elite forensics group that consulted on high-profile cases.

But coming face-to-face with the darkest deeds human beings are capable of took a horrific toll. After suffering a devastating personal loss, Depue, on the brink of despair, walked away from the outside world and joined a seminary. And it was there, while counseling maximum security inmates, that he rediscovered the capacity for goodness in people, and made the decision to return to the world to resume his work.

Here is Depue’s extraordinary personal account, from growing up as a police officer’s son to tracking down some of today’s most brutal murderers. With its harrowing descriptions of human depravity and passionate call to fight against evil, Between Good and Evil is both a riveting dispatch from the front lines of a war against human predators… and the powerful story of one man’s journey between darkness and redemption.

Between Good and Evil was pretty good, but wasn’t quite what I expected it to be. Reading over the back cover blurb again, I see that it’s not at all deceptive; I simply got the wrong impression.

The book chronicled Depue’s professional career, including the development of the FBI Behavioral Science Unit. Depue wrote of the struggle to get profiling accepted as a legitimate investigative technique and how it proved its worth time and time again. Quite a few specific cases were featured as were the research efforts (primarily interviewing the notorious perpetrators of heinous crimes) the agents undertook in order to ensure they could devise the best possible profile. Without a doubt, profiling is useful, but I wanted to see how it is done.

For example, in one case, the Unit concluded that a kidnapper likely drove a conversative family vehicle, a sedan or station wagon, four years of age or older. It turned out they were right, but I wanted to know what about the crime made them come to that conclusion! There was only one such detailed analysis included—of the ransom note in the Jon Benet Ramsey case—and I would’ve liked more examples.

As a memoir, it was pretty interesting, though Depue seemed to take special pride in his high school fighting prowess and was fond of anecdotes wherein he got to say something tough and intimidating to somebody. There were plenty of gruesome crime details, too, including some things that I had never imagined and will probably never forget. The chapter on the death of Depue’s wife was affecting, but a some of the religious stuff near the end was a bit much.

All in all, Between Good and Evil functions better as a life story than it does as an introduction to the actual task of criminal profiling.

Did you enjoy this article? Consider supporting us.

Speak Your Mind