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An extremely informative, very useful guide to understanding and writing about forensic psychology. Many writers, the author suggests, write about forensic psychologists without really appreciating what they do or how they do it. The author cites numerous examples from fiction to illustrate her points, showing how Thomas Harris made things seem a little too slick in The Silence of the Lambs or how James Patterson misunderstood some fundamentals in Along Came a Spider. She also uses several well-known cases histories--Charles Starkweather, Lizzie Borden, Dan White--to illustrate various psychological disorders and their diagnoses. Aspiring thriller writers should pay particular attention to the discussion of the relationship between psychology and the law, including the nature of insanity defenses and the treatment of offenders. Ramsland's mixture of fact and fiction is extremely helpful: she begins a discussion with something we recognize, like an episode from Law & Order, and then segues gently into more unfamiliar territory. The book gives budding writers, and anyone else with an interest in this subject, a solid grounding in the history, terminology, and techniques of forensic psychology. David Pitt
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Katherine Ramsland holds three postgraduate degrees in psychology and has taught psychology and philosophy at Rutgers University for fifteen years. She has published twelve nonfiction works, including Bliss: Writing to Find Your True Self, and recently released Forensic Science of CSI and Cemetery Stories. She lives in Princeton, New Jersey.