When you think of criminal profiling, what comes to mind? Maybe Hannibal Lecter
teaching Clarice Starling how to track down Buffalo Bill in SILENCE OF THE
LAMBS. Or perhaps a group of agents who fly around in a private jet and present
new profiles every week to police stations across the country in CRIMINAL MINDS.
The actual process of creating a profile is a fascinating blend of psychology
and criminology, and there’s not just one way – or reason – to do it. Here are
some of the ways profiles are used.
To catch a serial criminal: In HUNTED, the first book in my
series, bodies are found deep in the woods, buried up to their necks. Police
are stumped about who would do such a thing, and why, so they call in FBI
profiler Evelyn Baine. When she looks at the crime scene, she sees it through
the eyes of a profiler. Instead of looking at the forensics that could be in
the woods, or the people with reasons to hurt these two women who might overlap,
she looks at what the scene tells her about the perpetrator. And it tells her
something very specific, because burying someone up to their head
should be a showy display, but this killer has done it deep in the
woods, where he never expected anyone else to ever see it. Evelyn’s profile – a
detailed description of the kind of person who committed the crime – ultimately
leads them to a name (as well as a lot of danger for Evelyn personally!).
To determine if a crime is a copycat: In VANISHED, the second book
in the series, a girl is abducted and the kidnapper leaves behind a note modeled
on a children’s nursery rhyme. The note and the abduction are eerily similar to
a series of crimes from eighteen years earlier – when one of the victims was
Evelyn’s best friend. Those crimes were never solved, so Evelyn gets herself
assigned to the case in order to figure out if the same person has returned
after an eighteen-year hiatus, or if someone else is copying his crimes. The
result – she hopes – will not only be bringing the new victim home alive, but
also finally finding the truth about what happened to her friend all those years
To figure out a terrorist’s next move: In SEIZED, the third book in
the series, Evelyn finds herself taken hostage in a remote mountain area after
following another agent to check out a compound of survivalists. The official
report on the group says they’re harmless, but the agent disagrees. Convinced
they’re really a terrorist threat, she leads Evelyn out there and the two of
them end up stuck inside. Worse, Evelyn quickly discovers that the other agent
is right, and this group is much more than they seem. Eavesdropping from where
the group is keeping her, Evelyn tries to figure out their next move before it’s
too late – and then get that information to the outside world.
To invigorate a stalled investigation: In my brand new Profiler
book, STALKED, Evelyn
has the rare chance to work on a case with only one victim. Teenager Haley
Cooke disappeared from inside her high school one afternoon and hasn’t been seen
since. But her mom found a note left behind by Haley that reads, “If you’re
reading this, I’m already dead.” The deeper Eveyn digs into Haley’s life –
profiling everyone around her to determine possible motivations – the more she
discovers everyone has something to hide. And figuring out which secret got
Haley abducted could be the key to finding her before it’s too late for both of
All of these different kinds of profiling are really used by the Special Agents
who do this job for the FBI. And there’s more still! Profilers evaluate
everything from cyber threats to bombs to arson to things you might more
commonly associate with the field, like serial crimes. But the great variety –
and the increasing use of the unit all around the country (and even overseas) –
makes them even more fun to use in books!
Elizabeth Heiter likes her suspense to feature strong heroines,
chilling villains, psychological twists, and a little bit (or a lot!) of
romance. Her research has taken her into the minds of serial killers, through
murder investigations, and onto the FBI Academy’s shooting range.
Elizabeth graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree
in English Literature. She’s a member of International Thriller Writers and
Romance Writers of America. Fresh Fiction called her debut suspense
HUNTED a "fast paced and thrilling start to a new series," Affaire de
Coeur gave it 5 stars, calling it "very well done with a fantastic ending,"
and Bookreporter said HUNTED was "a thriller that grabs readers from the
first page...Heiter has hit a high note right at the start of her writing
No comments posted.