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Inside The Mind Of A Killer [Paperback]

Jean-Francois Abgrall
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

5 Feb 2004
True crime at its most potent: a riveting account of tracking down and convicting an evil serial killer by the detective who trapped him. "In the duel between a small-town cop and France's most dangerous serial killer, the advantage appeared heavily in favour of Francis Heaulme, the criminal known as the 'man from nowhere', who may have killed more than to 50 men, women and children. "Heaulme left few ordinary clues during a career of crime spread across the country. Faced with a master of ingenious alibis and innate resistance to interrogation, all his gendarmerie opponent could count on was instinct. This psychological hunt for a killer has echoes of Dostoevsky. "Heaulme never spoke murders. He referred to pepins - bothersome details, before noting days when pepins coincided with killings he had supposedly witnessed. He gave the impression he was an accidental observer of events in which women were beaten to death or children repeatedly stabbed. He had no criminal record and was scrupulous in living in the law. While he is thought to have been involved at least 50 murders, Heaulme once said that 'every time I visited somewhere there was a pepin.' So far 400 towns and villages have been identified where Heaulme stayed." Paul Webster in the Observer, reviewing the French edition This is the best, clearest, most decisive account of the work of a detective possible. It shows how deadly criminals can only be caught by a combination of luck, patience - and most important of all skill and determination. It is frightening stuff.

Product details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Profile Books (5 Feb 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1861976569
  • ISBN-13: 978-1861976567
  • Product Dimensions: 19.3 x 13 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,822,531 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Jean-Francois Abgrall was a senior detective in the French police. He developed an extraordinary reputation for his psychological insights into criminal behaviour. He is now a private detective.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
Sunday 14 May 1989 was one of those long sunny days that make being on duty even more tedious, particularly as that weekend was the culmination of a stressful week for the Rennes gendarmerie's criminal investigation unit. Read the first page
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Middling account of an all too familiar story. 6 Mar 2004
Alas, there have been all too many account of serial killers in recent years. Abgrall brings nothing new to the table; aside from being set in France, there is nothing here that can't be read elsewhere. Abgrall is evidently still annoyed at the police officers who didn't back him, and one feels this book is less than objective in its account. It doesn't really get "inside the mind of the serial killer", we find out that Heaulme is manipulative and mixes up details of his crimes to confuse. And that's about it. Perhaps its the translation, but there's a barren, sterile quality to the prose here.
In favour of the book, there is some genuine tension in the opening chapters, as Heaulme gives an apparently airtight alibi to the crime that opens the book. The book is fairly interesting overall, but nothing to rush out and buy.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.0 out of 5 stars  1 review
4.0 out of 5 stars Worth a read for the serious true-crime reader 10 Mar 2011
By Alina - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I've read a lot of true crime. I like the writings of Brian Masters and Stephen Michaud and Hugh Aynesworth as in depth analyses of particular perps.

This book is written by the detective who recounts his years long effort to convict a perp he believes to be responsible for a series of killings in France. What I found most interesting was his recounting of the many interactions he had with the killer over a number of years in which he attempted to understand and "crack" the guy into a confession. He remains perplexed by the perp. even though he succeeded in convicting him.

One thing that strikes the knowledgable reader of true crime is how primitive European agencies response to these killings are because they have such limited experience of serial killings. The Monster of Florence also bears this out:The Monster of Florence (another good read).

As the recountings of the frustration of one detective in attempting to bring a killer to justice this is an interesting read. I would have liked to see more speculation by the author of what he thought was going on with the killer (e.g. it is short on psychological insight) yet I can understand that the author is sticking to what he knows (e.g. his own experience) rather than attempting to be something that he is not (a psychologist or expert on serial killing). I also suspect that he was limited in what he could write by official agencies or his own discretion (e.g. the killer has a sister but little is said about what she may have revealed).

I note that the price of this book seems to vary - I bought mine at about $4-5 and its current price in $9.79. I probably wouldn't buy it at that price but it's certainly worth $4-5. It is certainly a worthwhile read for those who are into more serious true crime accounts and it would certainly be of interest to law enforcement personnel because it provides a very vivid account of a dogged pursuit of evidence by a frustrated detective.
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