A Profiler, in the criminal sense, is someone that uses statistical information, deductive reasoning, and crime scene clues to surmise the type of person that would commit a specific crime. Most often you will hear about profilers working in or with the FBI or on serial cases where typical police work leaves little clues as to who the criminal really is. Anyone interested in Criminal Profiling is probably already well aware of the fact that there are few avenues to get a degree in this specific science. So, it comes as no surprise when someone like Pat Brown comes along and announces that she is a housewife turned Profiler.
When I asked for Hyperion to send this to me for review I was expecting a riveting read. I knew the name Pat Brown, but was not placing her face or accomplishments. After reading The Profiler, I can only assume that I have seen her on Nancy Grace or one of the other HLN shows that discuss crime and often have various guests on to weigh in on the topics being discussed. Things start out good. In fact, I had no complaints in the beginning. It’s hard to complain when a book starts out with a murder.
Things are good in The Profiler for a few chapters although the doubts of the success of the entire book start very soon. This is a book about crime. Not only that, it is a book about a housewife that becomes a modern day Sherlock Holmes type (or so Brown likes to put it). The problem is that there are many differences between the fictional Holmes and the real life Brown. Among those differences is one appears to be a concerned, yet occasionally meddling former housewife and the other is a clever detective.
From the start, we learn things about Brown that we don’t need to know. Things like her breastfeeding habits (until her children were two, if you were wondering), the activities she participated in at church, and how she went to a school where girls didn’t get pregnant are completely unrelated to her job as a self-employed profiler. These things are mentioned as well as a thoughtful paragraph about her ex-husband who was a great father, but didn’t understand his wife enough to keep her after 25 years of marriage.
In the beginning of the book Brown is married and living with her husband and kids. She rents out a room in her home to a boarder named Walt Williams. Walt is the kind of guy that most people would suspect was a criminal. He was one of those unsavory types that wore fishnet tops to church and couldn’t keep a job. He lied constantly and everyone, even his own daddy, said he was weird. So, when the one murder that rocked the community where Brown lived occurred, she set out on a path to become a profiler and prove that he did it.
Did he do it? Based on the evidence there is a good chance. After over 20 years Williams remains the only suspect in the case, but there is not enough evidence in the physical sense to prove that he did it. Much of the book follows this path. The first half is dedicated entirely to Brown’s journey becoming a profiler and on Williams and her need to prove that he was the murderer. Things go back and forth until it is pretty much proven that he did it and beat the system. By the end of the first half of the book, Brown has finally become a working profiler.
From here we get a chance to read up on cases that Brown has worked on throughout her career. Many of these cases, it appears, she sought out on her own or at the urging of one other person. Often the cases are old and the evidence is no longer readily available to her. In some cases, the victim’s family and/or the police officer do not even want Brown to be involved. Still, she continues to do what she thinks she does best and profiles the crime.
Unfortunately, if you are looking for information about an average person that becomes a profiler and how that is done, you’re not going to find it here. Even the descriptions of the cases and the information that Brown offers is general. If you have had any lower level college Criminal Justice courses this will not be that interesting and you will not gain any knowledge from what Brown has to say. The same could probably be said for anyone that has watched enough Criminal Minds or true crime television.
The writing style is exceptionally dry for crime writing. While something like this might normally be exciting, by page 70, I was telling myself I still had hundreds of pages to go. Later still, by page 150, I was telling myself that sometimes as a reviewer we are forced to review bad things, too, as that is part of the job.
If you like crime novels for the excitement often found in them you will want to skip this one. Additionally, if you read autobiographies (or memoirs) for the conversational tone and closeness to the subject this probably won’t be for you. Sure, Brown manages to offer a conversational tone, but her egocentric style of storytelling leaves much to be desired. You can find plenty of better books, so if you have to read The Profiler, you might want to see if your local library is carrying it.
The Profiler: My Life Hunting Serial Killers & Psychopaths by Pat Brown hit bookstores May 18, 2010. It is available at most chain retailers that offer books and online through stores such as Amazon.com, which sells it in multiple formats.