Ask the Dust is the story of an LA writer in the 1930's. Surrounded by sleaze, Artruro Bandini is determined to make something of himself.

Artruro Bandini is a young writer in depression era LA. He is starting out, and dealing with everything that comes with being a young writer starting out. He's broke - starving, in fact - he has writers block, and he is full of self doubt. This book actually portrays a lack of confidence so accurately, it feels like Fante is just pouring his own experience into the pages. While Bandini struggles to find that great idea, he knows he will come to be recognised and respected, greatness is his destiny, he just can't get anything written down now, or at least anything anyone would want to publish. While he is dealing with all this, he falls in love with a barmaid, who brings nothing but trouble. Bandini is young and inexperienced with sex and relationships, and again Fante nails that experience exactly, though Bandini is maybe a bit more bitter about these things than most people.

I picked up Ask the Dust because of the endorsement from Bukowski. I'm not a huge Bukowski fan, but no one can deny his place in the 20th century canon. Bukowski has praised this book endlessly, calling Fante a god, and comparing finding Ask the Dust in a library to "finding gold in the city dump". Reading Ask the Dust after reading a couple of Bukowski's novels & poems, it's easy to see the pointers Bukowski picked up from Fante. It's a very simalar style, though Fante is maybe a bit more sensitive and has more if a direction in Ask the Dust than I have seen in Bukowski's work. For the record, I enjoyed Ask the Dust more than Post Office or Women. 
Fante was a gifted wordsmith, with some great lines in this one. Talking about ideas being little birds that he hammered on the keyboard, then they would die in his hand is a great little passage.

Turns out, Los Angeles named a street after Fante in 2009. I'm not sure I understand why - the city does not come across well in Ask The Dust. It's rife with drugs and prostitutes, and its citizens are starving. Ask the Dust is the second of a trilogy, so maybe the city is a much nicer place in books 1 & 3. It's pretty cool that the city honoured him like this, I'm sure there are many more famous writers from LA they could have picked. Good taste LA.

Anyway, if you're a fan of American 20th Century literature check this one out. Especially if you're into the Beat stuff; Ask the Dust is a precursor to all that. I liked it alot. It's odd, I've read a decent amount of "beat" novels, and so far the less famous ones are much better than the really big names. So if you want to get into the counterculture movement I would go for this or Richard Braughtigan's Trout Fishing in America over Bukowski or Borroughs.

Magic is the story of an impressionable young man, Charlie, and his endeavour to discover the true nature of magic. It's an entertaining and light hearted little story, with plenty of surreal weirdness going on.

Magic tells the story of Charlie, who has led a tragic life. He is orphaned, which is perhaps for the best, after the way his parents treated him. He was taken in by Manzini the Marvellous, who taught Charlie about the world, and according to  Manzini the answer to all of life's questions always led back to magic - but not the wizard kind of magic or god kind of magic, Manzini explained all of life's secrets with the show business, magician kind of magic. Death, love, creation, how and why are all explained as being magicians' tricks. All of these explanations satisfy Charlie, even his parents abuse and deaths are chalked up to magicians mysterious ways, and explained in a way that Charlie finds conclusive. Naturally, Charlie became fascinated with magicians. They're responsible for all of life's wonders, the only person who has ever loved Charlie is a magician, and also he is kind of impressionable. All of this adds up for Charlie to be utterly obsessed with magicians. This is the premise of the book, then the story revolves around Charlie exploring what magic really is. The story is told through Charlie's eyes, and he is a simple man, full of innocence and naivety despite what he has been through. It's a nice first person perspective which simplifies what is going on in the story.

Mike Russell's style is a bit of a strange one. He creates surreal worlds, which are totally original and in danger of becoming wacky but luckily Russell has the good taste to stop things from getting too out of hand and becoming weird for the sake of it. The books are strange and unique but in a natural way. I don't think Mike forces himself to think of the weirdest or strangest things he can, rather he just has an unstoppable, natural quirkiness.
This is the second Strange Books title I've read, Strange Books being the vehicle for Mike Russell's works.  I have previously reviewed The Exploding Book, which I described as bizarre and truly out there. This book isn't quite as off the wall, but it still exists in some sort of parallel world, which is simalar to our own but pretty detached in many ways.

So that's the main talking point out the way. With a brand called Strange Books, I think a lot of focus goes on how strange these books really are. But there is more going on here. The subject of magic has a rich potential, which Russell dives into, exploring every facet of the concept. What really is magic? Cheap parlour tricks? Creation? Life? Death? Consciousness? Just everyday stuff like bits of wool or some twigs? I dont know, I'm just a simple book blogger. Mike Russell has found a good trick here - he has balanced a big weighty subject (several actually, loss is a big theme, as is mental health) with a whimsical style which manages to keep things relatively light but get us thinking at the same time. Charlie's child like way of viewing the world gets some weighty ideas across in a simple way, so there is kind of a duality running through the book. There's what Charlie tells us is going on and what we know is really going on, such as other character's motivations or the lessons to be learnt from the book.

All told, this is a great book. I liked The Exploding Book more - it was more original and had a sharper point to it, but Magic is definitely still worth a look. 

Shoeless Joe is the magical realism novel that inspired the film Field of Dreams. It tells the story of an Iowan farmer who builds a baseball field in his back yard, and then hosts games played by dead baseball stars. Not as spooky as it sounds, this book is a wholesome wonder.

Magic Realism took off as a genre in the 2nd half of the Twentieth century. Authors like Salman Rushdie and Angela Carter were at the forefront of the genre, which (in a nutshell) adds magical and fantasy elements into realistic settings. Personally, the genre has never interested me, but I keep buying Magical Realist books by mistake. That's what happened here - I've never seen Field of Dreams, I didn't know what it's about, I just saw good reviews and bought the book.

I'm glad I did. The story revolves around a simple farmer, who hears a voice telling him to build a baseball field in his garden (the famous "build it and he will come"). Which he does. Then he starts to see dead baseball players playing there. We don't know if they are ghosts or spirits or what, we just have to accept it and roll with it, like the family in the book do. They do not question it at all when they see these people playing baseball in their garden - in fact they love it. Then the main man, Ray, hears a voice telling him the next steps on his mission and it begins a nice little journey through America, and baseball history, with lots of weird magic stuff going on. 

Now, living in the UK, I know nothing at all about baseball, and I don't care about it. It's just not a thing here at all. And this book is largely about baseball. It doesn't matter though. Shoeless Joe is more about lots of other simple things, like family and home, and dreams and memories. Seeing Ray follow his passion about baseball is exactly that - its watching someone who is deeply passionate about something follow his passion above everything else - people think he's barmy, and he bankrupts himself but he doesn't care. And that is a beautiful thing to follow. Ray's love for baseball, his wife, his daughter and his farm are so simple yet so sincere, it turns this book into an utter joy.

 The mismatch of characters was for me the other great thing here. Some are real people, some are fictional, but they all seem to have a real depth about them. They all have a fleshed out personality and quirks, little histories and flaws. It's another thing that makes this book as popular as it is.

All told, this is a thoroughly enjoyable book. Magic isn't my cup of tea, but in Shoeless Joe it is impossible to resist.

The classic detective novel by one of the masters. The Big Sleep is everything you want in a gritty, 1930s crime novel.

I picked this book up from a second hand shop for next to nothing. I have to admit, I knew very little about the novel, or Raymond Chandler, other than the guy in You keeps referencing his work. 

Turns out, it's a pretty big deal. Two movie adaptations, a radio play and a stage production have been based off of this book. The Big Lebowski is loosely based around it (its right there in the name, Big Sleep/Big Lebowski). It's a regular feature on those top 100 books of the century lists. The influence of this book is so huge, once you start looking it pops up all over the place. Sometimes, when something is so influential and is copied dozens of times, the original can seem a bit stale. It feels like you have read it before, because you are so used to the copycats and the books that take inspiration from the book you are reading. 

Happily, that isn't the case here. At first, I thought this was another run of the mill crime/detective novel in 1930's Hollywood, with lots of smoking and rain and hats. The Big Sleep has loads of all of those things. It's basically all smoking and rain and hats. But, in between all the smoking, the plot is so complex and slippery the book becomes absolutely gripping. Nothing is really clear until the last 2 pages, and even within the last 5 things were still going on that surprised me. Raymond Chandler has squeezed so many turns into this 200 page novel it felt like I had spent two hours stuck on the magic roundabout in Hemel Hempstead. (Its a roundabout with 5 mini roundabouts around it)

For me, this book was immensely enjoyable because of how stylised Chandler's writing is. It's written just like those guys would have spoken in the old films- you end up imagining the story in black and white. Full of old fashioned, film noir slang, it reads like classic Hollywood. 

I'd recommend this book, unconditionally. Who doesnt love a proper detective story?  It's got a maverick detective and proper sleazy bad guys, and rackets going on all over LA. Check it out!

Lucifer Rising is a history of Satanism, through paganism and the heretics of the middle ages, to Aleister Crowley and black metal.

Lucifer Rising gives fairly good coverage on the history of satanism. About half the book is about the history before 1960, when Anton LaVey started the Church of Satan and Charles Manson carried out his atrocities (nothing to do with satanism apparently, yet still gone into in high detail here). The majority of the book is about the late 20th century, in particular heavy metal. I understand that a lot of people who get into Satansim do so through Heavy Metal, but also I know enough about the music to know all the satan stuff is just theatrical, and 99% of the musicians who claim to be satanists are doing it to maintain an image. Even some of the bands who are interviewed in this book have since denounced their satanic image. It would have been nice to have a bit more focus on the history of the religion and less of the pop-culture, but it is what it is. I'm sure alot of people are more interested in the pop-culture side of things.

The bits that are present about the older history are super interesting though. There are lot of names here that I never knew were Satanists, such as John Milton. There's Satanism throughout history, running alongside mainstream culture and its influence reach pretty far. This was the best bit about the book for me.

The other thing is, this book evades defining what exactly Satanism is, and what makes something satanic. Is blasphemy enough, is heresy enough, or do we need witchcraft and rituals to make something satanic? Is witchcraft alone a form of satanism? This book covers a lot, there is a lot here, but it assumes quite a lot of knowledge going in. A lot of things get labelled as satanic that I feel are a bit of a stretch - Is the song Sympathy for the Devil satanic really? 

This is a nice history of an interesting subject, and it's a shame there are a few holes here and there. It's also a brick of a book, with tiny text that makes it a bit of a struggle to get through. Ultimately, I think this is one for people who are truly interested, and I'm not sure how strongly I would recommend it to someone who has a passing interest.

This is the autobiography by the legendary thespian, Sir Michael Caine.

Micheal Caine is an undeniably successful man. His acting career has spanned 6 decades, he's earnt himself a knighthood, and won 2 oscars. In Blowing he had decided to pass on what he's learnt, and gift us mere mortals with all the wisdom he's gathered.

Some of the advice Sir Michael has on offer is useful. Take opportunities, believe in yourself, embrace challenges...these are all good pieces of advice. I think it's a great thing to take as many opportunities as possible, and challenges should never be shied away from. The down to earth advice here is good, and not as cliche as I might be making it sound. It's peppered with a few hollywood stories, so fans of the movies will probably enjoy this.

The issue I had with this book is the amount of "follow your dreams" malarkey. If I were an optimistic youngster I might have eaten that up, but as a miserable disillusioned man I think it just sounds too romantic and sappy. It worked for Michael, but it surely does not work for thousands of others. Which leads me to a thought I had while reading this - who is qualified to give advice like this? Is it the super successful person like Sir Michael Caine? I'm sure he made some good decisions to get to where he is, but I'm also sure there was a lot of luck involved. Or would this advice be better given from someone who failed? Would advice be better given from someone who went wrong, and knew where they went wrong? Would it better to be told to give up on your dreams and live an average life? It's not as glamorous but far more realistic. The advice given from the mega successful seems a bit pie in the sky and unrealistic. I've got bills and kids, I'm not going to start auditioning for my Hollywood career. 

So all told, this book is ok. I'd take the life lessons with a pinch of salt though.

A strange and creative novel from a lesser known Beat author. Trout Fishing is a favourite amongst those who've read it, but it remains criminally obscure.

Trout Fishing in America is more of a collection if anecdotes than a story. There's a few recurring situations like Braughtigan's childhood and a camping trip with his girlfriend and their daughter, but there is no running plot from one chapter to another. This is more of a collection of short essays rather a novel or short stories.

What essays they are! Braughtigan writes with such wit and creativity, jumping from garden path sentences to wordplay and sarcasm and everything in between. This book is fifty ish years old, originally written and released in the 60s, but the writing is so clever and intricate it feels completely fresh. It's not just a funny book, there is meaning in each of these chapters, sometimes theres an obvious moral or point to them, sometimes it is hidden below layers of surrealism or ordinary-ness. 

I supppse you are wondering where the fishing comes in. It's everywhere. The phrase Trout Fishing in America pops up all over the place with lots of different meanings. It's a person's name in one chapter, it's Hotel Trout Fishing in America, it's a wanted criminal, it's a culture and an ideal and all manner of abstract concepts. It makes the book bizarre, with straightforward phrase taking on so many different forms. It's a cool effect. It makes Trout Fishing in America feel like some sort of ever present phantom, shapeshifting into whatever it needs to be. It's the only thread that holds the whole book together, and it is holding tight.

This is a great, weird book. It feels truly of the 60's - it is counterculture right down to its core. Its like if Captain Beefheart's Trout Mask Replica was a book - strange and noisy but ultimately just great. Awful nonsense if you don't get it, fantastic if you do. This book is essential 20th Century American literature, and deserves to be held in high regard, but for some reason it has faded to obscurity. Definitely worth a look.

Salvation Station is a novel about a murder investigation, dealing with corruption in the church and gives a cynical look at organised religion.

Police Captain Linda Turner is called in to investigate when three bodies are discovered in the flower beds of a recently sold house. The  bodies are a father and his two young children, who was believed to have recently left the country to preach somewhere far away. The discovery of the families bodies is a shock to Turner, who sets her laser focus on finding the killer. Meanwhile, a failing televangelist show is on the brink of going under, when a mysterious female fan meets the show's host, Reverend Raymond. She has big ideas for the show, and saves it from being cancelled, but not everyone in the cast and crew trusts her.

This book was described to me as a mystery, but in all honesty there are no prizes for guessing who the killer is - there's about 7 characters in the book, and it's super obvious who the perp is. But that's not necessarily a bad thing, it's just not a mystery. It's more of a thriller, or just a literary novel. There's other selling points here, and it's hard to really categorize this one. Yes, it's about police investigating a crime, but it's clear to the reader early on who committed it. There is satisfaction in seeing how the guilty party is manipulating people and plotting further crimes, while the police and the community start to realize what they are dealing with. So, no mystery in this one, but still a good crime novel. 

Scleich has created a genuine monster in the killer here. They are a calculating, cold villain, obviously they must be since they are a child killer, but it becomes clear the murders were not done in the heat of the moment, and there is no remorse - there's even plans for more murders. The killer is such a heartless character - a real memorable villain. I think this character is what makes the book what it is. The reader can see through the friendly veneer, and knows how evil and calculating this person is, while the other characters in the book believe they are a saint, even a blessing. Whilst they are easily fooled, the other characters don't come across as naive or gullible - it's a real balancing act that Schleich has pulled off.

This is a cool little crime story, and the swipe at money grabbing using religion as a front is a nice extra layer to this novel. It's one to check out, especially if you're into crime stories.

Other Minds is all about octopuses. Written by a philosopher who just really likes them, it's an alternative look at a fascinating animal.

Other Minds sets out to do two things: it wants to look at the evolution of the octopus, and how it go to where it is; and it wants to explore what it is like to be an octopus. This leads to the question "How does it feel to be an octopus?". I thought this is an extremely ambitious question. After all, who can answer the question "How does it feel to be a human?" Or "what's it like to be a human?"

I've read the book, and I understand a lot more about the evolution of octopuses. It's absolutely knowledge that is in no way vital. It's not going to help my  life at all, but its pretty interesting to know, and it's what makes this book. Humans share a common ancestor with most intelligent animals going back to around dinosaur times. Our last common ancestor with octopuses goes back to when all life on earth consisted of worms in the sea, some 600 million years earlier (if I remember correctly). From there octopuses evolved completely separately from the other intelligent animals, making them the closest thing we have to aliens.

The book is fascinating. There are so many interesting tidbits and subjects that get more and more complicated as we drill down into them - Godfrey-Smith is a philosopher after all. Did you know octopuses change colour to match their surroundings, but they are colour blind? How does that work? Other Minds gets deep into questions like this, among others, some of which appear straight forward and simple (Why do we get old?). It debates the theories, tries out possible answers and settles on one. It's an interesting way of looking at biology - it's a debate rather than a book of facts.

The one and only criticism I'd have of this book is it lacked any sort of direction. It jumped from one subject to another, and didn't round off with a nice conclusive chapter. It's a small gripe, but a sense of direction can make these pop-science books a much more satisfying experience. 

Ultimately, this is a pretty fascinating book. The subject matter is so ordinary yet so extraordinary, its utterly riveting. Highly recommended. I'm not sure I know what it is like to be an octopus though.

Here it is! Here is the annual run down of my favourites that I read this year. Just a quick disclaimer - this isn't a top 10 of books that were released in 2019; it's the top 10 books that I read in 2019 - the books can be released in any year, which renders the list useless I suppose, since there is no frame of reference. Anyway let's go! 

10. Cucina Tipica - Andrew Cotto

Andrew is a real foodie. Not a pretentious food snob, he has a genuine passion for good food. A travel writer by trade, this is his third novel, about a soul searching trip through Italy. It's got such a relaxed vibe, the slow italian way of life starts to overtake you, as you start to think "...I'm going to go part time." Great book, really chilled, nice summer book.

Check out my review here

9. The Galton Case - Ross McDonald 

This is a "classic" detective novel. Rather loose usage of the word "classic" there. It's not especially ground breaking, but it does what it does very well. It's twisty and dark and full of surprises. Also, the main character is known as Archer, which is my son's name. Cool.

8. The storyteller - Pierre Jarawan

The Storyteller is all about a Lebanese refugee searching for his lost father. It's got deep, heavy subject matter combined with excellent writing (translated brilliantly from German). Really, really great, and also an education.

7.Laurence Westwood - The Willow Woman

I couldn't leave him out.

For all the trouble he can be on Twitter, Laurence's The Willow Woman is an excellent piece of work. Based in china, and inspired by the tradition of Chinese detective novels, this is a little trip down to the crime ridden streets of Chengdu. God knows how many pages and characters are here, but don't be intimidated - it is really worth the effort. Laurence has promised there is a sequel, which seems to be eagerly awaited on Twitter. (People keep telling him to go away and write his book).

6. Only Americans Burn in Hell - Jarett Kobek 

Kobek is establishing himself now in the literary world. Only Americans is the his latest novel, which is more of an angry, cynical tirade against the modern world. I don't know who hurt Jarett and made him the way he is, but I'm grateful for it. Is that wrong?

5. 10.89 - Ben Lerner

10:04 takes the usual structure and premise of a novel and shakes it all up. Set in New York during hurricane Sandy, 10:04 plays with it chronology, goes back and changes past events and blurs the lines between real life and fiction. This is big brain time.

4. Ghost stories - M R James

Ghost Stories is exactly what it sounds like. A dozen or so stories about the paranormal written by the Victorian master. Still spooky, still great writing which carries an air of authority, making the stories a bit more frightening.

3.  Men Without Women - Haruki Murakami

Men Without Women is a collection of short stories about single men. Sounds basic and simple, but there's a lot of variation in these stories, and a lot of thoughtfulness too. Murakami is one of the best around.

2. Nights At The Circus - Angela Carter

Nights at the Circus has even described in hundreds of ways. Feminist, fairy tale, surreal, religious allegory - all of these seem to fit. It's like nothing else I've ever read. Really great magical realism.

1. The Black Cloud - Fred Hoyle

For some reason I didn't review this book - I don't know why. It's a fantastic sci-fi apocalyptic novel, but it's written by a leading physicist. Hoyle invented the phrase Big Bang, though he was against the now widely accepted theory. In The Black Cloud he combines he scientific knowledge with sci fi and creates a really gripping, scary story. Check it out!

Let me know what you've been reading this year, what you loved and what you didn't, or if you've read any of the above in the comments

The Umbrella Men is the story of a waning business, amidst the 2008 financial crisis.

The Umbrella Men jumps around between various little plots which are all connected through the mining company Rareterre. There's the story of the company's management in London who are trying to keep the business afloat, the story of the residents who live near the mine and think it is a blemish on the natural landscape, and the stories of various investment bankers, who are playing the market to make as much money as possible, regardless of any consequences. And this is really a story about consequences and selfishness, not just on the part of the bankers.

This is a hefty book, but it ticks along at a fast enough pace. The story is mainly about bankers and investments, so theres a lot of financial stuff going on, and the accountant talk gets a bit heavy at times. Now here's a confession - I work in the financial industry (not a banker. Insurance, if that makes it any better). I knew what was going on when the finance talk got going but I wonder whether this would keep a layman entertained or interested.

I went into this book expecting a satire on the financial industry, on the markets and the people who play them. I wouldn't say that is really the case. It's more a peice of literature based around the financial crisis - and it is a pretty good piece of literature. There's plenty of themes running through this book and food for thought.

I liked this book. The plot is the strong point - it raises questions of fate and consequences, and made me think of the old saying about a butterfly starting hurricanes. If you can get through financial guff, check it out!

(This review has been all over the place - apologies reader. Its 2 days before christmas and my wife and I have just had our 3rd baby.  Happy Christmas all!)
This is a collection of stories from the Victorian master of the paranormal.

M. R. James was born in 1862. He went to Eton, where he excelled, then went on to university, and became the vice chancellor of Cambridge University. Spending most of his life as an academic, it is his scary stories that he is remembered for. This book is a collection of 13 of his stories, some of them are his greatest hits and there's a couple of lesser known B-sides here as well. The quality is pretty consistent though, and it's a great little collection.

James's signature trick is his understated way of writing. He can create menace and dread with small occurrences, like a book missing from a shelf. There is no blood splatter here, no guts or gore. James takes a subtle approach, and it makes the stories start off slow, and then gather momentum. Things always start off perfectly ordinarily, then they start to seem a bit strange, then they become terrifying.

It is said the Victorian's wrote the best ghost stories. Maybe this is because people were used to creepy stuff anyway  - death masks and post-mortem photography were a thing back then. James's writing benefitted from the prudish culture of the times - there is no vulgarity in these stories, whether it be sex or violence - which adds to the focus on the unusual goings on. The characters are all pretty shallow and simalar - there is no differentiating from the protagonist in one story and another. They are all male, studious and unmarried. And that's ok. There is no need for deep complex characters. The stories aren't about that. It seems James had the good sense to write about what he knew, as he too was a studious, unmarried man

The Victorian English that M R James uses has an authority about it - he was a scholar and he held a high office - so his words carry weight. This man is an expert on medieval times and religious dogma; he wrote whole paragraphs in effortless Latin, perhaps he is an expert in ancient demons and reanimated corpses? While there is little offered in way of explanation of where the ghosts have come from, the reader happily accepts their existence, and finds them utterly terrifying. 

M R James said there is no receipt for success on writing this form of fiction. "The public are the ultimate judges: if they are pleased it is well; if not; it is no use to tell them why they ought to have been pleased". So I reccomend that you see if it pleases you, rather than let me tell you. Just do it with the lights on.
Mindhunter is the story of John Douglas's career, and how he developed criminal profiling within the FBI. 

Douglas joined the FBI after studying psychology during his time in the US Air Force. He joined a team in the FBI that travelled the country, and gave lectures and ran courses for local police forces  on famous cases, particularly serial killers. Douglas was frustrated doing this, and felt that all the material he was teaching was recycled from other courses and lectures, or from old case notes. On the road, feeling tired of his current material, Douglas took the opportunity to interview a serial killer in a nearby jail (I think Ed Kemper was the first he spoke too - I'll double check) and found the experience enlightening. He then started interviewing killers at every chance he could, and eventually this developed into the science of criminal profiling. Douglas and his team could examine a crime scene, and any evidence, and build an idea of the perpetrators personality.

This book is pretty fascinating. The conclusions Douglas can reach from studying a crime scene appear to be telepathic. There's the easy details, which aren't overly impressive, like age or gender of the killer, but then he can go into some insane detail, such as what colour the killers car is, how old it is and how well maintained it is. It's an interesting concept, and it feels a bit Sherlock Holmes - extrapolating from clues on the crime scene to choose a suspect. Unfortunately, Douglas didn't go into great detail about his craft. He talks us through notable cases and his conclusions on them, and whether or not he was correct in the end (99% of the time he is. Not sure if that is due to only including his successes in the book or if his track record is that good). Douglas tells us the amazing, far fetched predictions he made then expects us to be amazed when they are correct. It's amazing the first time, but 300 pages in it loses its wow factor. 

This book could have benefitted from being a bit less about Douglas and a bit more about his methodology. I didn't care about his childhood or the decline of his marriage, I dont really care how he got into the FBI. No one is reading this to learn about his career, Douglas could have taken a step back, but his sizeable ego is apparent throughout this book, as he reels off one successful case after another. Also, there's quite a few times in this book where Douglas airs his pro-death penalty views, which seem a bit outdated.

True crime fans will probably enjoy this book, due to Douglas's extensive interviews with serial killers. All the big names are there - Manson, Kemper and Gein to name a few. The back of the version I had said that the book would revisit Jeffrey Dahmer's case, but unfortunately there was only a sentence or two on Jeff.

Overall this book was pretty interesting. It was intriguing to see how the investigators put together their profiles that led to them catching the killers. It was great to read about some famous cases from someone who worked on them. It was boring to read about some guys start in law enforcement.