Killer Across the Table by John Douglas book review | Book Addicts

Killer Across the Table by John Douglas

posted in: Reviews | 0

The Killer Across the Table by John Douglas and Mark Olshaker is the latest release from true crime novelist John Douglas and his new partner Mark Olshaker.

0 out of 10 stars. There’s a lot of victim blaming in this book.

I’ve read several of John Douglas’s books but have found them overly biased. If you’ve watched the series Mindhunter or read the book of the same name by Douglas then you already know he used to be a profiler with the FBI. He spent roughly two decades interviewing serial killers and rapists and then wrote about them. Unfortunately he also befriended many of these men, including Ed Kemper, and that friendship made his views very biased, especially against women. That comes across profoundly in this book. I was deeply disturbed by how easy it was for Douglas to blame people who were victims themselves and, of course, they were all women. Maybe it’s his new writing partner, Mark Olshaker? Or perhaps it’s Olshaker’s wife? Whatever the reason you would think with the #MeToo movement that Douglas and Olshaker would be much more careful about placing blame for these horrendous crimes and holding the serial killers accountable.

Joseph McGowan

The first fourth of the book is devoted to the serial killer Joseph McGowan, a despicable human being who violently raped and murdered a seven year old neighbor girl in 1973. Yes, that’s right, this case is from 1973, more than 50 years old.

This is one of those cases that upon hearing the details you feel quite sickened by them. I can’t imagine why the details were necessary, but they’re included in this book. Douglas and Olshaker in part lay the blame for this crime not on the criminal or the negligent mother who let her seven year old go to a strange single man’s house alone, but on the criminal’s mother. According to McGowan she told him he couldn’t stay with her if he married a young 16 year old girl. So he lashed out by raping and murdering a seven year old who conveniently came to his door alone.

Joseph Kondro

The second fourth of the book is devoted to the serial killer Joseph Kondro. In 1985, an eight year old girl went missing in Longview, Washington. She was a family friend of Joseph Kondro’s. In 1996, a twelve year old girl similar in appearance also went missing in Longview, Washington. She also was a family friend of Joseph Kondro’s. Both girls had spoken with Kondro the day they went missing. This is another case which is quite old.

Kondro had several ex-girlfriends who were the mothers of his six children. He kept in touch with them and visited his children frequently. He had never been convicted of anything and although one of the ex-girlfriends had tried pressing charges against him for being violent, the police had dropped the charges. If the police drop charges against a father, the mother has no right to keep the father from visiting his children without a court order. And yet somehow, Douglas and Olshaker find the ex-girlfriends partially to blame for Kondro’s deeds. Apparently they feel that the women should’ve been more aware of Kondro’s behavior and pursued more legal action.

Donald Harvey

The third fourth of this book is devoted to the serial killer Donald Harvey. From 1970 to 1987 Harvey was an orderly at various Kentucky hospitals where he poisoned to death elderly patients. He claimed to have murdered 87 people. This is another old case, 50 years old.

Todd Kolhnepp

The last fourth of the book is devoted to the serial killer Todd Kolhnepp. In 2003 four people were shot to death in a motorcycle shop in Chesnee, South Carolina. In 2016, a woman who’d been missing for two months was found in a storage container. She’d been kidnapped, raped, and tortured by Kolhnepp for the length of her imprisonment. Although Douglas and Olshaker start this section claiming that Kohlnepp murdered more than 100 people there are not 100 people listed as victims in this section.

Lawrence Lake and Charles Ng

The epilogue of this book contains some brief material on Leonard Lake and Charles Ng.


While I appreciate the work that John Douglas did for the FBI four decades ago, I don’t appreciate the sexist slant of this book or the persistent victim blaming. Much of the erroneous woman-hating viewpoints John Douglas and Robert Ressler made into profile archetypes have now, in Ressler’s words, “fallen out of favor with law enforcement” for being inaccurate. No kidding. <snark intended>

0 out of 10 stars. I wouldn’t recommend this book or any of Douglas’s new books.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *