Anyone You Want Me To Be by John Douglas and Steven Singular

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This is book four in my attempt to read fifty books in 2005.

Here’s a good rule of thumb for choosing true crime books. Anything that is endorsed on the cover by Patricia Cornwall has a very good chance of being almost unreadable.

On the front cover of this book Cornwall is quoted as saying “John Douglas is one of the most exciting figures in law enforcement”. That may well be true, but he certainly hides it well in his writing – which is some of the dullest prose I have read.

The book was bought for me because it is about crimes committed over the internet. Or, rather, the criminal made initial contact with his victims over the internet. He was a S&M fan who contacted women over the internet, convinced them to move to his home town, made them his sexual slaves and finally (when he was bored with them) murdered them.

If it wasn’t for the internet connection (which is loudly advertised all over the cover) this would have been a book that I would never have picked up. I’m just not interested in reading about these crimes. And the author clearly knows very little about the internet. The book is written like one of those internet scare stories that you’d expect to find in the Daily Mail. It’s full of phrases like “the darkest corners of the internet”.

Yes, there are nasty people out there. Yes the internet makes it easily for them to communicate with both thmeselves and potential victims. That does not make the internet a hotbed of crime and debauchery. It makes the internet somewhere where you interact with other people and need to take the same amount of care as you do in your “normal” life. If you move halfway across the US to be with someone you’ve only ever met online then… well obviously you don’t deserve to die, but you’re acting very stupidly.

This book made me very angry. Please don’t read it.

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