SHADOWMAN: An Elusive Psycho Killer and the Birth of FBI Profiling



The hole in Susie Jaeger’s tent, 1973

On June 25, 1973, a seven-year-old girl went missing from the Montana campground where her family was vacationing. Somebody had slit open the back of her tent and snatched her from under her family’s noses. None of them saw or heard anything. Susie Jaeger had vanished into thin air, plucked by a shadow. That single chilling disappearance mobilized Montana’s largest-ever manhunt and energized FBI agents, all searching for … a shadow. When the investigation later turned cold, agents were frustrated and ready to hear any idea that might help them close their grim case.

SHADOWMAN tells the entangled tales of a harrowing crime and the introduction of sophisticated criminal profiling at the FBI. It will be released March 1, 2022.

Reviews and interviews in the media

Praise for SHADOWMAN

★★★★★ “Exceptional … Franscell’s portrait of rural Montana will remind many of Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood, and the way he weaves together the threads of the different killings is spellbinding. This is a must for Mindhunter fans.”  Publishers Weekly (starred)

“SHADOWMAN is a thrill ride through the entangled brutality and brilliance that gave birth to one of the FBI’s most intriguing forensic tools—criminal profiling.” —John Douglas, legendary FBI profiler and author of Mindhunter

“[‘ShadowMan’] tells two stories. The more inspiring one is about the investigators who pioneered a new method of detection. The more horrifying one is about the madman who terrorized a tiny town for years.”  —New York Daily News

“People who know the history of the BSU have heard of this case, but never before have the full details been collected and published. True-crime author Ron Franscell has done his usual thorough research. Along with a solid sense of time and place, he pulls readers into the crushing pressure of Dunbar’s frustration and doubt about this new psychological tool. … ‘ShadowMan’ makes an important contribution to the history of profiling as well as a more gripping true-crime narrative than the popular fiction we see about profilers today.” Psychology Today, where it was chosen as an “Essential Topic”
“In this gripping real-life thriller, Franscell deftly relates a complex case with journalistic flourish, never losing focus of the human tragedy.”  Booklist
“A page-turner … This book grabbed me by the brain and wouldn’t let go.”  —Scott McMillion in Montana Quarterly, where “ShadowMan” was the Editor’s Pick for the Spring ’22 issue.
“A fascinating read.”  The Daily Beast
“A watershed moment in criminal investigation is given its thrilling due in this riveting book.”  —Senior Books Editor Vannessa Cronin at Amazon Book Review, where “ShadowMan” was an Editors’ Pick

“Riveting … Franscell’s narrative is gripping, and he balances the complexities of these crimes with explorations of how [FBI’s groundbreaking profilers Pat] Mullany and [Howard] Teten used their criminal profile.”  —Library Journal

Ron Franscell has always been in the upper echelon of true-crime authors. SHADOWMAN is his crowning achievement. Bravo to a master of the genre!” —Gregg Olsen, #1 New York Times bestselling author of If You Tell and The Hive

“Ron Franscell has written criminal profiling’s origin story, an urgent and obsessive true-crime tale that transcends the genre. SHADOWMAN ramps up to an almost unbearable pitch, Mindhunter crossed with American Gothic. This chilling story has the ghostly unease of a nightmare — as atmospheric and unnerving a story as you’ll ever read.”  —Michael Cannell, former editor at the New York Times and author of Incendiary: The Psychiatrist, the Mad Bomber and the Invention of Criminal Profiling. 

“Nightmare fuel.”  —KMMS AM 1450 (Bozeman MT)

Yes, the book is worth it … it’s a great read and twice as good if you’re from this area.” Belgrade (MT) News, local newspaper at the epicenter of the “ShadowMan” case

“Part mystery and part history, ‘ShadowMan’ recounts the first case in which the Bureau used a profile to successfully apprehend a suspect.”  —A&E True Crime

“Gripping and powerful.”  —FBI veteran Penny Parrish in the Fredericksburg (VA) Free Lance Star

“Authentic and chilling … one of the most intense, entertaining thrillers I’ve read in years. What makes it stand out even more is that it’s all true. Ron Franscell owns the reader from the first line and never lets go.”  —Host Jordan Rich, WBZ/CBS Radio in Boston

“”[SHADOWMAN] will definitely make you reevaluate what you think you know about your neighbors! It’s a pulse-pounding read!”  —Mind Over Murder podcast

“Fascinating …Franscell does his duty as a storyteller to paint a picture … in fact, he’s simply done his research. Painstakingly so.”  —

“An armchair tour of an evil, depraved mind and the things it can do. Squirm and twist awhile, make that face, then let yourself be immersed in Franscell’s detailed account.”  —The Bookworm, a syndicated review column

“Sources become characters, quotes become dialogue; 50 years of buried memories surrender their heartbreak.” —Cowboy State Daily

Franscell takes his art higher than most true crime writers. Establishing place, backstory, and character is his expertise…. If you’re looking for a better-than-usual true crime read, this is your book.”  —Kidnapping, Murder & Mayhem

“I don’t know if reading a story this intense can be called enjoyable, but it was a mesmerizing, satisfying experience.” —Kate Rice at Oil City (WY) News

“If any modern crime writer should bear the mantel of the late, great Jack Olsen it is Ron Franscell. He’s one of our most provocative authors in any genre, as I know firsthand. Here, he does his usual splendid job of weaving fear, monstrosity, and place into a vivid, harrowing story about an epic moment in forensic history. Nobody does it better.” —Dr. Vincent DiMaio, celebrated medical examiner and author of Forensic Pathology

“When you’ve got books about the Body Farm on your shelf, or anything by John Douglas or Robert Ressler, ‘ShadowMan’ deserves to be right next to them. If you love a gruesome tale of crime-solving, wrap your head around this one.”  —Yankton (SD) Press & Dakotan

“A brilliant, long overdue page-turner of a story about the Behavioral Sciences Unit mindhunters.” —Dr. Peter Vronsky, crime historian and author of Serial Killers: The Method and Madness of Monsters

“Much of the current obsession with true crime starts with the birth of profiling … I have no doubt this one will get a ton of buzz, and I’m here for it.”  —

“With a grasp of description and tempo, [Franscell] affords a extremely accessible historical past of the FBI’s evolving approach.”  —Hindi News

“One of the most jarring and lurid books this year … within these pages are a catacomb of shadows.”  —Cemetery Dance Online


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