Thursday, June 27, 2019

Agent Kathy Puckett and the Case of the Unabomber

Denson, BryanAgent Kathy Puckett and the Case of the Unabomber
June 25th 2019 by Roaring Brook Press
E ARC provided by Edelweiss

In the early 1990s, I remember the Unabomber being in the news, but I didn't follow the story closely since I had small children and was getting my MLS. I hadn't realized what a huge investigation lead to the eventual capture of the perpetrator of so many senseless mail bomb killings. This book approaches the investigation from the point of view of Agent Kathy Puckett, who joined the UNABOMB task force in 1994. The investigation into the type of person who would likely commit these crimes, coupled with the physical and literary evidence used to identify the cuplrit, is fascinating. There were many people investigating, and they are mentioned along with the bits of evidence they contributed. This book also discusses the thought process concerning the publishing of the Unabomber's manifesto in the newspaper, which ultimately was very helpful. Its publication brought forth David Kaczynski, the brother of Theodore Kaczynski, who thought that the writing was similar to his brother's. As the investigation continued, Kaczynski's profile seemed to match what Pucket knew about the Unabomber's likely profile would be. The book includes the complicated stake out that occurred to finally bring Kaczynski in, and discusses what the case meant to the state of investigations. The source notes are very complete. I'm interested to see what other books in this series are in the works.
Strengths: This was very well done. While there are lots of details about the nuts and bolts of the investigation, and even information about how Puckett struggled as a female investigator at a time where there were few of them, the book moves along very quickly and is an excellent length. The history of events leading up to the investigation are included, and the societal atmosphere when the case became big news is included. I have no interest in true crime stories, but found this to be an interesting and quick read.
Weaknesses: Since I really enjoyed reading about Puckett's involvement in this, it was disappointing that she wasn't more involved in his actual arrest, but history is history!
What I really think: True crime. Wouldn't have been something that interested me in middle school, but my students seem to enjoy listening to podcasts about it, and are always asking for murder mysteries. This is an intriguing nonfiction book that should make them very happy.
Ms. Yingling


  1. I would have enjoyed the investigation piece of this when I was younger, and we had so many kids who were interested in the FBI too when I was volunteering that would have loved this.

  2. I remember the days of the Unabomber and how it dominated the news but I had forgotten all about until I saw your review. (how quickly fame and infamy fade!) This realy does look fascinating and I'll see if our system will order a copy.

    1. IGC, let me know if there's anything I can do to get some copies in your hands. You can reach me at

  3. IGC, please let me know if there's anything I can do to make sure your system gets a copy. Cheers!