15 Books by John E. Douglas

Published: December 30, 2021

John E. Douglas is a retired FBI agent and author. Due to his background, he focuses his work on high profile crimes and murders. All of the books on this list are nonfiction, true crime reads. 

He's written more than a dozen books alongside Mark Olshaker. He's also written books with other researchers and authors including Stephen Singular, Johnny Dodd, and others.

Books by John E. Douglas

1. Mindhunter: Inside the FBI's Elite Serial Crime Unit

Mindhunter: Inside the FBI's Elite Serial Crime Unit

Written with: Mark Olshaker

Published: October 31st, 1995

Pages: 384

Mindhunter is a first-person account of John Douglas’ experiences as one of the first criminal profilers for the FBI. The book takes readers inside the FBI's Elite Serial Crime Unit, chronicling the hunt for notorious serial killers like Ted Bundy, Edmund Kemper, and Dennis Rader. It provides a fascinating insight into the minds of some of history's most infamous criminals.

As an experienced law enforcement officer and profiler for over 25 years, Douglas offers a valuable perspective on how law enforcement officials catch killers and why they do what they do. If not for Douglas and his cohorts, it would be hard to imagine how many other serial killers would be walking free even today. If you're interested in learning more about crime investigation or just want to read a great true crime story, Mindhunter is definitely worth checking out. It has become the basis of the Mindhunter series on Netflix.

2. The Cases That Haunt Us: From Jack the Ripper to Jon Benet Ramsey, The FBI's Legendary Mindhunter Sheds New Light on the Mysteries That Won't Go Away

The Cases That Haunt Us

Written with: Mark Olshaker

Published: November 14th, 2000

Pages: 352

In his book, The Cases That Haunt Us: From Jack the Ripper to Jon Benet, former FBI profiler John Douglas looks at some of the most infamous cases in history and offers insights into what made them so challenging to solve. Douglas draws on his years of experience in law enforcement and criminal psychology to shed light on some of the most puzzling crimes ever committed.

Douglas provides a unique perspective on these notorious cases, whether discussing the still-unsolved murders of the Zodiac Killer, Jack the Ripper, JonBenet Ramsey, and others. Readers will find themselves engrossed in the stories of these victims and perpetrators alike and learn more about why these crimes continue to fascinate us all. As Douglas works through them, will you find out who the actual killers are? You'll have to read it to find out!

3. The Killer Across the Table: Unlocking the Secrets of Serial Killers and Predators with the FBI's Original Mindhunter

The Killer Across the Table

Written with: Mark Olshaker

Published: April 15th, 2019

Pages: 352

When you think of serial killers, what comes to mind? For most people, it's the frightening image of someone deranged and out of control. The reality, however, is often quite different. Looking at four of his lesser-known cases, what emerges is a much more complex and nuanced portrait than the popular perception suggests.

This book offers a unique look at one of America's most troubling phenomena. These include Joseph McGowan, who kills a seven-year-old girl scout, Joseph Kondro, who sexually assaulted and then murdered two girls, although he did them ten years apart from each other. Another is Donald Harvey, known as “The Angel of Death," who killed dozens of people working at a hospital.

The final one is Todd Kohlhepp, who became known as the "Superbike Killer." Douglas provides valuable insights into how these criminals think and operate through his expert analysis.

4. Journey Into Darkness

Journey Into Darkness

Written with: Mark Olshaker

Published: February 1st 1997

Pages: 383

This is a mesmerizing, page-turning account of one man's journey into the minds of some of history's most notorious serial killers. They include ones such as the Clairemont Killer, Richmond’s First Serial Murderer, the Polly Klass abduction, and more, including the reason for Megan's Law. Douglas' unflinching exploration of the darkest recesses of human behavior is both riveting and deeply disturbing. It provides a unique and unparalleled insight into the workings of the criminal mind.

Something that sets this book aside from his others is that he gives specific ways to keep yourself, and your loved ones, from becoming a victim if you use his eight rules for safety. If you're looking for a truly eye-opening look at the world's most twisted criminals and how to stay far away from them, then this is the book for you.

5. The Anatomy of Motive: The FBI's Legendary Mindhunter Explores the Key to Understanding and Catching Violent Criminals

The Anatomy of Motive

Written with: Mark Olshaker

Published: 1999

Pages: 320

FBI agent and criminal profiler John Douglas has been credited with helping to create the modern science of profiling. In his book, The Anatomy of Motive, Douglas takes readers on a fascinating journey into the minds of some of history's most notorious killers. Drawing on his extensive experience in law enforcement, Douglas provides detailed analyses of cases such as Ted Bundy, Jeffrey Dahmer, and the BTK Killer.

He offers insights into what drove these killers to commit their crimes and recommends how law enforcement can better investigate and prevent future murders. Instead of just the famous cases, he also goes into the mindset of assassins, hijackers, arsonists, and others. It is fascinating to see the types of childhoods these murders lived and how they were raised before committing their heinous crimes.

6. Obsession


Written with: Mark Olshaker

Published: February 1st, 1999

Pages: 384

Everyone has heard of the term "co-dependency," but what about "obsession?" In their book, Obsession, John E. Douglas and Mark Olshaker explore this topic in-depth, looking at cases where individuals have become so wrapped up in another person that they will do anything to keep them in their lives.

Although it may be an uncomfortable read at times, Obsession is an essential contribution to the body of psychological literature on love and relationships. The book offers a glimpse into the minds of both the obsessed and the object of their obsession and provides readers with some understanding of what drives these dangerous relationships. This book is so unique because Douglas investigates his obsession with these crimes and tries to solve them.

7. Law & Disorder: Inside the Dark Heart of Murder with the FBI’s Legendary Mindhunter

Law & Disorder

Written with: Mark Olshaker

Published: December 28th 2021

Pages: 416

If you've ever watched any crime-related television program and found yourself wondering how experts can so quickly piece together what happened, the answer is due in part to the work of John Douglas. As one of the founding fathers of criminal profiling, Douglas has spent his career analyzing evidence and developing theories about how and why crimes are committed.

In his book Law & Disorder: Inside the Dark Heart of America's Judicial System, Douglas provides a firsthand account of some of America's most heinous crimes and the legal proceedings that followed. Some of them were easy because of admissions or forensics. Meanwhile, others were complicated and took years to go through the criminal justice system. This book is a must-read for anyone interested in law enforcement or criminology.

8. The Killer's Shadow: The FBI's Hunt for a White Supremacist Serial Killer

The Killer's Shadow

Written with: Mark Olshaker

Published: November 17th, 2020

Pages: 304

In the late 1990s, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) launched a concerted effort to track down and prosecute white supremacists. The impetus for this crackdown came in response to a series of deadly bombings and shootings targeting African Americans, Jews, and other minorities. This book focuses on Joseph Paul Franklin, who was an expert marksman and member of the Ku Klux Klan.

John Douglas, who spent years tracking down elusive right-wing extremists, thought this case would be significant to highlight. Seeing Douglas work through the case, using his ability to profile, then the use of psychology against them, and down in the dirt detective work, you can see the heart of this truly evil person. This man either assassinated or tried to assassinate anyone he deemed immoral or subversive. Using any means necessary, including firebombing homes, he also shot and paralyzed Larry Flynt, who owned and managed Hustler magazine.

9. Law & Disorder: The Legendary FBI Profiler's Relentless Pursuit of Justice

Law & Disorder: The Legendary FBI Profiler's Relentless

Written with: Mark Olshaker

Published: February 26th, 2013

Pages: 416

Unlike most of his books, this is not focused on only the killings and murders but also the justice system in the U.S.A. Douglas examines how there is usually a slow grind towards their conviction when these monsters are caught. This can be both good and bad, depending on what the truth is and how the evidence is shown to the judge and jury.

Because of this, Douglas takes us into the cases where some of the evidence, and even confessions, are deemed the truth by the police immediately. Sadly, sometimes they do this because they are sure of themselves, are pressured by higher authorities, or are just lazy. Using cases such as the Salem Witchcraft Trails all the way up to Amanda Knox's case, you will see how justice if it is justice, can be used to either help find a killer…or set someone up who is innocent of all charges.

10. Unabomber: On the Trail of America's Most-Wanted Serial Killer


Written with: Mark Olshaker

Published: May 1st, 1996

Pages: 286

The FBI launched a nationwide search to find the bomber. It wasn't long before they had identified their prime suspect: Ted Kaczynski, an assistant mathematics professor at the University of California at Berkeley. A reclusive figure known as the Unabomber began mailing explosive devices to various targets across America.

For nearly 20 years, Kaczynski eluded capture—until he was finally apprehended in 1996. In this riveting book, John Douglas tells the complete story of the Unabomber investigation, from its early days as a low-priority case to the massive search that eventually led to Kaczynski's arrest. You will find out everything there is to know about this evil man.

11. When a Killer Calls: A Haunting Story of Murder, Criminal Profiling, and Justice in a Small Town

When a Killer Calls

Written with: Mark Olshaker

Published: February 1st, 2022

Pages: 240

Shari Smith was just about to graduate from high school on May 31st, 1985 when she suddenly disappeared. Soon after, a criminal started calling her family and the police and started teasing them and ridiculing them. As if her death wasn't enough, Debra May Helmick, only nine years old, was abducted. The police quickly realized they needed more help when a “Last Will and Testament” appeared on the deck of Shari’s parents and then brought in John Douglas.

This is one of the lesser-known cases by Douglas, but very interesting and original. Being this part of South Carolina was very small townish, Douglas captures the fear and angst rippling through it since they had no idea what was happening or how to stay safe. Therefore, Douglas realized he had to work quickly and make sure to be spot on, which using his group of profilers, they figured out that the murderer was Larry Gene Bell.

12. A Criminal Investigative Analysis of Jack the Ripper

A Criminal Investigative Analysis of Jack the Ripper

Published: April 20th, 2011

Pages: 12

In the Fall and Winter of 1888, Jack the Ripper killed at least five women. Even over 130 years later, the police still don’t know who did these horrible murders. Deciding that he wanted to try and find out, John Douglas was able to get documents that were previously considered classified by the FBI.

He digs deeply into the history by using all his abilities, including victimology, traits and characteristics of the murderer, crime scene analysis, and behavioral patterns. One of the earliest books sets the scene for many of his other investigations and allows you to see it from the beginning. NOTE: Two scientists have recently used DNA samples and more and believe they have found the actual killer, Aaron Kosminski. You will have to decide for yourself who is the real killer.

13. Anyone You Want Me to Be: A True Story of Sex and Death on the Internet

Anyone You Want Me to Be

Written by: John Douglas and Stephen Singular

Published: May 20th 2003

Pages: 320

John Robinson was on the cutting edge of using the internet to seduce his victims into meeting him. By finding lonely women in chat rooms, he would make them think he was wealthy, a loving man who was alone, and someone that wanted to find the right person for life. He became known as the first internet serial killer as women would come to visit him and then disappear forever.

This book is fascinating and terrifying because of the sociopathic behavior of Robinson, and at the same time, very much needed as dating and relationships change in today's world that is connected to almost everyone around the world. Douglas looks at the character of Robison and his victims and how the internet has brought about a new way of meeting people. This includes not having any physical contact, unlike in bars or restaurants, going to cities where you've never been after meeting online, and more.

14. Inside the Mind of BTK: The True Story Behind the Thirty-Year Hunt for the Notorious Wichita Serial Killer

Inside the Mind of BTK

Written by: John Douglas and Johnny Dodd

Published: September 1st 2007

Pages: 344

In the summer of 1974, and continuing through to 1991, a serial killer called himself BTK began terrorizing the Wichita, Kansas, area. Why did he call himself “BTK?” Because it stood for Bind, Torture, Kill, which is what he would do to his victims. BTK would taunt police and the community for the next thirty years before finally being apprehended. In Inside the Mind of BTK, John Douglas tells the complete story of the search for this infamous killer.

Drawing on his years of experience as a profiler for the FBI, Douglas provides readers with a detailed look at what drove BTK to commit heinous crimes. Additionally, he offers insights into how law enforcement officials finally caught up with him after all these years. It wasn't until 2005 that Dennis Rader was arrested for these crimes and more. People were utterly shocked as he had always been a loyal husband and a wonderful father to two children. If you're interested in learning more about one of America's most notorious killers, then be sure to read this book.

15. The Forgotten Killer: Rudy Guede and the Murder of Meredith Kercher

The Forgotten Killer

Written by: Douglas Preston and John E. Douglas

Published:  January 27th, 2014

Pages: 81

Most people know about the trial of Amanda Knox, a U.S. citizen who was accused along with her boyfriend Raffaele of killing Meredith Kercher. However, it seems that the actual killer was Rudy Guede and all of the evidence points to his working alone and with Knox or her boyfriend’s knowledge. Guede was convicted of the crime, but the Italian authorities kept trying to connect with Amanda Knox and Guede.

This was an American who supposedly killed Kercher. It became a worldwide event, and it quickly became a discussion of her guilt or innocence but with very few people knowing the truth. Instead of just John Douglas working on this case and book, numerous others have contributed to flesh it out and show the truth of what happened during this horrible event. These trials took almost a decade until she was finally acquitted in 2016