An intriguing book, translating the more widely known (or mythologised) role of the profiler into a consideration of the effects geography and place have on crime. Most burglars, we learn, rarely travel more than a short distance from their own homes.
Canter offers a stimulating insight into the way we all perceive the environment in which we live. There are places in which we feel safe, places in which we feel decidedly out of place. The same is true for anyone intent on the commission of a crime. You want to be somewhere you won't be noticed, somewhere you feel comfortable, somewhere you know your way around.
Canter goes a long way towards demystifying crime - criminals are not supermen, they are not master minds, nor are they so evil as to be instantly recognised. The vast majority of criminals (and I speak as a Probation Officer) are very ordinary individuals indeed. Profiling of criminals need not only apply to headline crimes - it can apply to the ordinary crimes committed by ordinary offenders, and can therefore offer clues to prevention, detection, and correction or rehabilitation.
Canter compares and contrasts classic failures in investigation - the false assumptions made about the Washington Sniper, the failure to catch Jill Dando's killer, the way Fred West created a 'normal' world for himself in his prison journals in contrast to the chaotic, murderous one in which he lived.
Canter had considerable success helping profile and catch the 'Railway Rapist' in England. He highlights the manner in which a criminal will begin with unplanned, opportunistic crimes, slowly elaborating upon his/her successes, becoming more sophisticated if not caught, learning how to plan and visualise, etc. The early crime is committed close to home or close to somewhere familiar to the offender; thereafter, it can be planned further and further from home.
A fascinating read, not always convincing - as when he claims to have identified Jack the Ripper - but with a vast amount of stimulating argument and analysis. An invaluable book for any serving police officer, for anyone involved in the crime and criminology field, or for crime writers.