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


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

Author:  Michael Cannell

Format: Ebook

Source: Netgalley

Rating: 4.25

Sometimes all of my searching for books to read pays off.  Netgalley has a great program set up so they can get early reviews of books.  You read the book for free and give an honest review.  My only problem is I am a slow reader and like with this book it is already out before I get around to finishing it.

This book discusses the little talked about bomber of NY City.  I knew nothing of this story coming into the book.  Sometimes that is better because then I view everything with amazement.  FP as the bomber signed all his letters to the paper wanted attention.  He wanted to be noticed.  FP made simple bombs, using simple parts he could acquire from any number of locations.  When the Detectives found a piece of the timing mechanism, they went to every watch shop around.  Everyone carried the model.  The police had no luck there.  They also had little luck with fingerprints.  It appeared that FP wiped down anything he may have touched around or on the bomb.

Captain Finney was big on using science to help solve cases.  It is not that he didn’t trust traditional police work.  But he also knew how beneficial science could be with blood, or gun residue, or even fingerprints.  As they combed the records they realized that the bombings had stopped during WWII so they assumed FP was someone that must have served in the army.   But once the war was over FP’s bombs were more advanced.  That led investigators to think maybe he was a part of an explosives team.

Dr. James Brussel a local psychiatrist was asked for his opinion of what he thought the Mad Bomber may have been like.  Well, he was close on almost every point.  Not only did Brussel help on this case, he was called on for future cases.

The papers were all over the police for not finding this Mad Bomber for years.  But the papers also helped in the case by baiting FP to give a few details on his life so they could help resolve his grievances.   The Police went to Con Edison looking for old workman’s compensation claims.  The company was very reluctant to give out information and vetted all the claims because it wanted to not give any information that would lead to authorities looking into Con Edison as being a safe place to work.

After many attempts to get the information out of Con Edison, one file that was looked over by Alice Kelly had the information the police needed.

Metesky didn’t put up a fight when the police showed up on his doorstep.  He knew they knew and went peacefully.  One thing that was fortunate for Metesky is he was able to get tried as a schizophrenic and ended up not going to jail and only went to a psychiatric ward.  He served most of his sentence before being released and lived to the ripe old age of 90.

Words I came across that I would like to use in more conversations:

  1. Droll – curious or unusual in a way that provokes dry amusement
  2. Cordon– a line or circle of police, soldiers, or guards preventing access to or from an area or building
  3. Compeers: A person of equal rank or ability



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