Friday, March 18, 2005

Guaranteed to Make Your Skin Crawl....

Okay, okay, I know Halloween is over and it's too soon to be suggesting "Summer reading," so I'll be putting these book suggestions under the category of "Creepiest books I've ever read." I know for some people that true crime, especially serial killers, doesn't scream (pun not intended) "fun." However, I love a good scary book, and I've read a lot of them, but very few have made the hair on the back of my neck stand on end like the two books I'll be talking about today.

Deranged : The Shocking True Story of America's Most Fiendish Killer! by Harold Schechter ©1990
Synopsis: Harold Schechter is a professor of American culture at Queens College (CUNY) who takes an academic interest in the history of violent folklore: "Our pop entertainments aren't necessarily more brutal than those of the past," he writes. "They are simply ... more state of the art." In this book Schechter turns his keen historian's gaze on real-life serial killer Albert Fish, who killed--and ate--as many as 15 children in New York City in the 20s. Fish resembled a meek, kindly, white-haired grandfather, but was actually an intense sadomasochist whose sexual fetishes included almost everything known to psychiatry. For example, he stuck 29 needles into his pelvic region. Apparently Schechter, while writing his book Deviant about Ed Gein, asked Robert Bloch (author of Psycho), "Why are people so fascinated by Ed Gein?" Bloch answered, "Because they haven't heard about Albert Fish."
Comments: I read this book about 6 years ago and it still haunts me. You know how you hear critics toss around the review "I couldn't put it down"? Well, in the case of this book it was true. I was horrified but was compelled to finish it and see what happened next. There never seemed to be a good stopping off point. One thing would lead right into the other until before I knew it, I was finished reading the book. $7.75 at
Goosebumps Moment: Reading the taunting letter Ed Fish sent to the parents of one of his victims.

Razor's Song (AKA Incident at Potter's Bridge) by Joe Monninger ©1993
Synopsis: He shed first blood at the age of nine. Now he stalks a sleepy New Hampshire university town, collecting gruesome trophies from his beautiful, young victims--driven by an unspeakable hunger too horrifying to imagine...and too powerful to ignore. The police cannot stop him. His bloodlust is insatiable. And there is nowhere to hide. Zelda Fitzgibbon has come to Colbin College to start her lofe over--unaware that she has been chosen as the next to die. And now she is alone--as her worst nightmare draws closer...and closer...and closer...
Comments: I can't reccomend this creepy gem enough. Unfortunately not many of my friends read or have the same taste in books as I do, so I've yet to be able to discuss this underrated thriller with anyone. Unfortunate as well is the fact that the author has not gone on to write any more books. Disappointing, considering how effective this one is at unnerving you with its' imagery. It's seriously one of my favorite books. It's very inexpensive, so if you're like me and have become somewhat jaded about there being any truly scary books out there these days, let this little gem restore your faith. Trust me, this is one book that will have you looking over your shoulder and double checking the doors to make sure they're locked. 75¢ at
Goosebumps Moment: Wow. Where do I begin with this one? ONE of the creepiest moments is when Jam, one of the school security guards, while looking for the killer in the wooded area that's home to some of the paths student take, runs into a student: "Excuse me," he said again, "I'm with the school's security office." And then she looked up. Which made Jam say holyfuckingshit to himself. Which made him reach for his gun, the hell with his knife, he wanted the .44 out of the holster now. Because it was not a woman. And she had a straight razor...

I enjoy stories of true crime even more when I can see them come to life on shows like Forensic Files, New Detectives /FBI Files, The Investigators or the like. The History Channel, The Discovery Channel and sometimes even A&E have especially great lineups around September, October and November. I currently have 2 such documentaries in my DVD collection:

Serial Killers: Profiling the Criminal Mind (an A&E 2 disc set)

• Four complete programs examine the twisted existence of serial killers from both sides of the equation.

• Includes interviews with John Douglas, the inventor of criminal profiling.

• Jailhouse footage of and interviews with Charles Manson and John Wayne Gacy.

$10 at

Serial Killers: The Real Life Hannibal Lecters

$6.50 at

Check them out if you don't get creeped out easily. Fascinating stuff. But if true crime is not your thing, there are plenty of great thrillers available. Some of my favorites include:

Jennifer 8
When a Stranger Calls


Blogger Mariana said...

I don't consider myself morbid, but that serial killer's story sounds interesting. The human mind is like a freak show sometimes, it's like you want to know how low people can get.

Saturday, March 19, 2005 6:43:00 AM  
Blogger Kirkkitsch said...

It's really insanely fascinating. I recently found a copy of it at a used book store (the 2nd printing) and was tempted to purchase it, but didn't. And you're so right about the human mind. I find it fascinating, but then I don't really like to tell people that I do because then they get all "freaked out," thinking that just because you find it interesting that somehow you're somehow "dangerous" or damaged. Whatever.

Thursday, March 24, 2005 1:02:00 AM  

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