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Cover for Incendiary


The Psychiatrist, the Mad Bomber, and the Invention of Criminal Profiling

Michael Cannell


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Other Editions of This Title:
Digital Audiobook (4/24/2017)
Paperback (8/21/2018)
CD-Audio (4/25/2017)


Long before the specter of terrorism haunted the public imagination, a serial bomber stalked the streets of 1950s New York. The race to catch him would give birth to a new science called criminal profiling.

Grand Central, Penn Station, Radio City Music Hall—for almost two decades, no place was safe from the man who signed his anonymous letters “FP” and left his lethal devices in phone booths, storage lockers, even tucked into the plush seats of movie theaters. His victims were left cruelly maimed. Tabloids called him “the greatest individual menace New York City ever faced.”

In desperation, Police Captain Howard Finney sought the help of a little known psychiatrist, Dr. James Brussel, whose expertise was the criminal mind. Examining crime scene evidence and the strange wording in the bomber’s letters, he compiled a portrait of the suspect down to the cut of his jacket. But how to put a name to the description? Seymour Berkson—a handsome New York socialite, protégé of William Randolph Hearst, and publisher of the tabloid The Journal-American—joined in pursuit of the Mad Bomber. The three men hatched a brilliant scheme to catch him at his own game. Together, they would capture a monster and change the face of American law enforcement.

Praise For Incendiary: The Psychiatrist, the Mad Bomber, and the Invention of Criminal Profiling

“Exceptionally absorbing.” Seattle Times

“Fascinating . . . Cannell is at his best in making the impact of F.P.’s crimes palpable: he conveys in detail the dangers faced by the members of the NYPD Bomb Squad . . . and aptly captures the state of terror created by explosions in random places such as movie theaters and train station restrooms.”Publishers Weekly

“Taut. . . the story holds its tension from start to finish through all those twists and turns. A fascinating study not just of a historical crime and its consequences, but also its unintended effects.” – Kirkus Reviews

“A riveting thriller… Incendiary is powerful historical nonfiction at its very best.” —Linda Fairstein

“Cannell brilliantly assembles his facts with an artist's flair and poignancy… you won't be able to put it down.” —William D. Cohan, bestselling author of House of Cards

“A gripping and important book with a haunting resonance for our times.” —Daniel Stashower, three-time Edgar Award--winner and bestselling author of The Hour of Peril

Incendiary describes some of the major accomplishments of psychiatrist and criminal profiling pioneer Dr. James Brussel. It is an excellent read.”
—F. Lee Bailey

“An intriguing account of a chilling crime spree.” —Michael M. Baden, M.D., bestselling author of Remains Silent

Minotaur Books, 9781250048943, 304pp.

Publication Date: April 25, 2017

About the Author

MICHAEL CANNELL is the author of Incendiary: The Psychiatrist, the Mad Bomber and the Invention of Criminal Profiling; The Limit: Life and Death on the 1961 Grand Prix Circuit; and I.M. Pei: Mandarin of Modernism. He was an editor at the New York Times for seven years and has written for The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, Sports Illustrated, and many other publications. He lives in New York City.