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4.2 out of 5 stars
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4.2 out of 5 stars
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on 1 January 2001
Robert Keppel really knows his stuff, and it shows. His knowledge and insight into the minds of these people is absolutely staggering. He puts them into their various categories and offers clear explanation of the motivations of these killers. If you want to know how the typical serial killer thinks and what caused him to commit his crime(s), then this book is a must read. I'm a big fan of John Douglas and Robert Ressler, but Robert Keppel is definately up there with them. Don't think twice - order this book!!
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This book drove me crazy because it was so patronizing. It is obvious that Keppel knows his stuff, but it is equally obvious that he doesn't think the general reading public have progressed far beyond "A is for Apple". If the man says something once he says it a million times. The case information he gave was sketchy and most of his time was taken up reiterating several obvious points ad nauseum. The book could easily have been a good 75 pages thinner and it wasn't that thick to start with. Compared with writing by the equally professional Paul Britten ("The Jigsaw Man") there is no contest. A real shame.
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on 26 January 2000
I've been studying this book for months now, re-reading and going back again and again. Every time I read a passage I find some insight into the killers mind that I hadn't noticed before. For anyone interested in criminology and Signature killers, You Must Read this book.
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on 28 April 2013
I have an (possibly unhealthy) interest in serial murderers and have been reading books about them for over 7 years. During this time, I've probably read all subcategories of the genre, from the Crime Classification Manual, to biographies, semi-biographies, autobiographies, encyclopedias and case study books. I have been slightly disturbed by the grisly details, and fascinated by the lack of understanding the professionals have of the genesis of a serial murderer.

People are always asking "Why?", "What makes them tick?", and "What are their motives?". How can profilers "Get into the mind" of a killer? I've become bored of these questions that lead to no answers (or the same old). I've come up with my own understanding of why. But for those interested, at end of the book, there are the obligatory theories that attempt to address these cliche questions.
Robert Keppel does not pretend to know the absolute answers, but shares his experiences and knowledge gained as an veteran consultant in a unique way. Most works (including those written by authorities) are content with the following outline of a case;
1)The killers background, where he came from and early warning signs
2)The crimes and investigation, what he did to elude the authorities and how he was caught
3)Analysis, problems in his life that may have drove him to murder

This book talks about how a "Signature" is identified.
I have come across explanations of MO and Signature before, but Keppel also gives the WORKING definition. This is the essence of what the book is trying to expound. To this end, Keppel has made the effort to sometimes stress important points by reiterating and rewording. This is not an insult to the readers intelligence, as other reviewers have imagined, but an attempt to drill into the readers minds, the fundamental drivers of what creates a signature. And in a clinical and non-emotion driven way, describes the brutalization of the victims in report-level detail. These descriptions are not easy for a casual reader to stomach, and may seem pointless and perverse. They are not. Keppel provides the reader clarity on the significance of the wounds in a way that supports his driving point for the entire book. Even then, it seems the point has been lost on some of the reviewers here.

This book has given me insight that has put sense into a lot of things I've read about serial murders. If you are seriously interested in this particular subject, you could do a lot worse than this book.
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on 17 August 2010
Advantages: methodical, detailed, full of case studies and forensic facts
Disadvantages: lack of an index, some points are repeated

When I choose to read a non-fiction book, I always read the author's biographic note first to make sure that s/he knows what they write about and that, as a result, I will gain valid knowledge out of this experience. If I am not interested in learning factual data then I simply choose non-fiction. What I particularly dislike are opportunistic journalists who write on a complex subject, such as forensics, without an adequate background, only to create sensationalism and earn an extra buck.

This is not the case with this book. The writer, Robert Keppel, was at the time of publication a Chief Criminal Investigator in Washington and has been an investigator or consultant to over 2000 murder cases and over 50 serial murders. He also has a PhD in Criminal Justice. William Brines was the president of a publishing house and helped Keppel with the suitable writing language for a wider audience.

This book is not an easy read and sometimes not pleasant at all. Hardly the ideal bedtime story. However, it is a great textbook on the criminal psyche of a serial killer, useful to students of criminology, law enforcement and forensic professionals, and the wider audience who wants to get scientific and well-established knowledge in the understanding of the deviant criminal murderous mind. It is also full of forensic scientific info, and those who enjoy TV shows such as CSI, Law and Order or the Mentalist will find this book extremely interesting, although they may realise that true crime is far worse and more difficult to digest than any fictional depiction.
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on 25 August 2012
A stunning, shocking and repulsive book, but ultimately so compelling i cldnt stop reading til the end, with breaks between chapters to calm feelings of panic! Superbly written for the layman, if this subject interests you then this is THE book to read
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on 2 April 2009
Having read this book I was no wiser as to what Mr Keppel was actually trying to get across to his readers. What exactly were the so called signatures of these killers. this book doesn't shed an awful lot of light on the subject. give it a miss. there are much better books out there dealing with the same subject
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on 30 July 2009
Signature killers is a novel is wrote in first-person himself by the great Bob Keppel!This novel could be used on so many guidelines,firstly policework,secondly if you're studying or generally interested in the criteria.Thirdly it could be interpreted as a survival kit,how killers operate,how to avoid.I thought the book was overlong but deeply insightful into several career criminals and their signature murders.There is also a brillant foreword introduced by Ann Rule who personally knew Ted Bundy!
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on 4 June 2013
Robert Keppel uses William Heirens case. Mr Heirens is most likely innocent 99.9999%. Perhaps this book needs an update??
Otherwise a good detailed read if a bit dated.
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on 19 October 2014
Brilliant read
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