Roger L. Depue,
Between Good & Evil:
A Master Profiler's Hunt for
Society's Most Violent Predators

(Time Warner, 2005)

Roger L. Depue is a former chief of the FBI Behavioral Science Unit, the unit that tracks down serial killers, serial rapists, child molesters and other psychopaths who prey on society. This is a team of men and women who pioneered the techniques whereby analyzing a crime scene, one can determine the likely profile of the perpetrator. While it isn't an exact science, in many cases, their expertise is what cracked a case, possibly after it had gone cold years before.

I recently listened to the five-CD audiobook of Between Good & Evil: A Master Profiler's Hunt for Society's Most Violent Predators written by Depue with the help of Susan Schindehette (a senior writer for People magazine). This book follows the life of Depue as he grows up the son of a police officer, joins the Marines, becomes sheriff of a small town at a young age, joins the FBI and becomes a criminal profiler, spends a three-year stint in the seminary when his first wife died and finally helps found the Academy Group, a civilian consulting firm. In this audiobook, Depue outlines what makes evil tick. How do most people basically follow the path of respecting others when a very small minority is bent on destroying the lives of others, solely for their own gratification?

Depue describes his experiences with several high-profile cases, many of which most listeners would be familiar with to some degree. I found it fascinating listening to him describe clues and explain how certain actions by an assailant would indicate various things. Often times, these explanations would make me realize that he made perfect sense, but I had not thought about these things in this way before. For example, if, after a robbery, you found all the drawers of a dresser opened, you might infer that the thief was a professional; he opened the drawers from the bottom first, then worked his way up. He saved time by not having to shut drawers. An inexperienced thief would most likely open from the top and have to close each drawer to get to the one below, in the end leaving only the bottom one open. This method takes time. The explanations from murder clues are even more intriguing, but I think you should listen for yourself. No more spoilers.

The audiobook starts off with an introduction read by Depue. The book itself is read by David Povall, an actor most recently in The Ring. While Povall narrates just fine, I'm confused why Depue didn't perform the narration himself. Based upon his introduction, he certainly had the ability to read his own book. I think it would have made the connection with the listener much more personal. This is a biography of sorts -- not a novel.

Between Good & Evil is not an audiobook for the squeamish. Depue gets fairly graphic at times. It is not hard to visualize much of what he has seen, and I, for one, am glad I have not had the opportunity to see the evil he describes at such a close and personal range. The glimpse in to the unrepentant mind of the psychopath does not do much to shed a good light on mankind. Depue somehow still manages to see a general good despite his immersion in a world of evil most of us hardly know.

- Rambles
written by Wil Owen
published 27 August 2005

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