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True crime devotees and "Mindhunter" viewers were likely drawn to Oxygen Book Club's August 2022 pick: a memoir from the woman who worked in the FBI's Behavioral Science Unit during its inception. "A Killer by Design: Murderers, Mindhunters, and My Quest to Decipher the Criminal Mind" by Dr. Ann Wolbert Burgess and Steven Matthew Constantine dives into Burgess' experience profiling criminals, and while there are plenty of disturbing and fascinating anecdotes about her brushes with serial killers, it's also a thoughtful look at the way sexism impacted her career as well as the psychology behind why people turn to murder.
Once you've finished reading the book yourself, consider examining these discussion questions with your friends:
1. Had you heard of Dr. Ann Wolbert Burgess and her work before picking up this book? If not, what inspired you to read it?
2. Have you ever seen the show "Mindhunter" before you picked up this book? Do you see any parallels between Burgess and the character she inspired on the show?
3. What specific cases and investigations in the book stuck with you the most? Why?
4. Burgess describes the sexism she endured while coming up in this field. Were you surprised by her experiences? Do you think it would have been different for her today?
5. The book features never-before-seen interview transcripts and crime scene drawings. How do this add to the value of the book?
6. What do you think primarily drives people to kill? Did you agree with the psychological assessments made in the book?
7. Is working in the Behavioral Assessment Unit for the FBI the kind of job you think you would like? Why?
8. Have you read books by other people who have worked in this field before? How do you think this book compares?
9. Burgess is frustrated by the "celebrity" certain serial killers have accumulated in the past decades. How can we, as a society, combat that?
And if you have more thoughts let us know! Use the hashtag #oxygenbookclub to keep the discussion going on social media.
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