Review: The Mind of a Murderer (Dr. Olivia Winter, #1) by Michael Wood


Print Length: 454 pages
Publisher: One More Chapter, Harper Collins UK (March 28, 2024)


Dr Olivia Winter is a forensic psychologist whose job is to understand the minds of serial killers. There’s only one monster she can’t understand, her father.


Notorious and brutal, he held a reign of terror until he was caught. His nine-year-old daughter was supposed to be his last victim, but she survived.


Now, a serial killer is stalking the streets of London. As the body count rises, the police need Olivia’s help to profile him before he can strike again. But to do so, she will need to confront her own demons…

My Rating: 1 star out of 5

This book requires the reader to take everything they think they know about how the police operate (even in the UK where this book takes place) and just.... throw it out the window. Seriously. This one is just so over the top in places that it defies belief. 

First we have Oliva. Her character should have been absolutely fascinating. A forensic psychiatrist who not only interviews/studies serial killers for a living, but is also the daughter (and almost victim of), one of the most notorious serial killers in London's history. She definitely has her flaws and issues (rough, casual sex just to feel something is one of those flaws, a whiny, inner monologue that we are subjected to repeatedly is another), but that wasn't my issue with her. No, my issue with her was more than that.

To begin with, Olivia consistently says two things about herself. She does NOT get involved in active investigations, and she is not a profiler. And yet, she does both repeatedly. When she is first approached by Jessica (who we later find out was her best friend when she was a child as well), she adamantly shuts her down. But of course, the files Jessica left behind "call" to Olivia and she just can't help but look at them. And of course, she sees something none of the trained officers working the case have seen. So she reaches out to Jessica to tell her, and thinks nothing of it when she gets no response. Only to find out that Jessica was also a victim of the killer. And she was pregnant. 

Enter DI Foley, Jessica's partner? Superior officer? I'm not really sure what he was to her other than the father of her child. He basically bullies Olivia into not only continuing to help with the investigation because he and his team "need her", and then browbeats her into accompanying him to the crime scene as well. He tells her he will take her back whenever she wants, but of course, once they get there he goes back on his word because as you will see time and again this man at his core (as he does have brief moments of humanity), is nothing but a callous tyrant who will do anything to get his way. He even goes so far as to continue to push someone in interview even after Olivia tells him he is not the killer. His reasoning? If he arrests this man (even knowing he is innocent) it will buy him some time to get the brass and the press off of his back while he continues to look for the real killer. 

At this point, I am not only questioning why Olivia, who is not only technically a civilian, but also a close friend to the victim allowed to continue to work her case, AND taken to an active crime scene (as they toured the scene while it was still being processed), but moreover, why was Foley and his team continued to be allowed to work the death of their friend and colleague? Am I the only person who read this and saw the glaring conflict of interest here? Olivia even asks Foley at one point if he should be working the case given how close he was to the victim, to which he retorts he is the best person to be working it. Again, where were HIS superiors to put a stop to this? 

But of course, Olivia is now on board, and she even goes so far as to give the police several potential profiles on their killer. Even though, remember, she tells us time and again that she is definitely NOT a profiler. Then what are you doing? 

Another pet peeve I had about Olivia is despite knowing there is a serial killer on the loose (and she fits his profile), she continues to drink until she's "fuzzy" to the point she fumbles with one of the locks on her door before she gives up on locking it. Because surely having your wits scattered by alcohol is a great way to fend off a killer. And then we have Mister X (I'm going to call him that to avoid spoilers). He enters her home, accosts her, nearly takes advantage of her in the worst way possible (insert a potentially triggering R word here) and yet when all is said and done and she manages to get away from him she ...... ends up feeling SORRY for him. Somehow, she justifies what he almost did to her because he was "lonely" and even talks about going in front of a judge to speak on his behalf. She then actually gets sad and cries when he takes his own way out of the situation. 

Seriously? You're almost violated, and you find a way to excuse his behavior? 

The one good thing I can say about this one is while I had my suspicions on who might be behind the killings, I was wrong. The person who was responsible was someone who hadn't been on my radar, and even then Olivia manages to mess this up by going and accidentally tipping him off that she knew it was him instead of going straight to the police even though she says she should. The reason she didn't immediately call Foley? Because it reflected poorly on her (even though again she swears she's not a profiler and she doesn't work active cases), because she didn't immediately see that it was him therefore it meant her focus wasn't 100% on the job at hand.  

I forced myself to finish the book after that, just to be disappointed with the ending too. I will not be continuing on with this series in the future. 

DISCLAIMER: I received a complimentary copy of this novel from the publisher. This has not affected my review in any way. All thoughts and opinions expressed in this review are 100% my own.

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