Customer Reviews: Deranged: The Shocking True Story of America's Most Fiendish Killer!
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on October 1, 2011
Apparently the term "bogey man" derived from the life of Albert Fish, the disturbed, perverted psychopath whose abduction and murder of the twelve year old Gracie Budd is related in this fascinating book. After reading this the term "bogey man" will never have the same innocuous meaning to you again!! In one of those serendipitous coincidences of history, the novella "Billy Budd" was published just 4 years before Gracie was abducted, though Melville finished it in 1891. Fish's character and perversions are unravelled with all the suspense of a first rate thriller, although the story is so shocking in itself that it really needs no embellishment to retain the interest of the reader. Fish appears to have assimilated into himself all the morbid fetishes, perversions, and eccentrics known to mankind. This book is not for the faint-hearted. It is filled with page after page of truly shocking revelations of a sadomasochistic serial killer who thrived on the flesh and blood of innocent helpless children. In perhaps the most disturbing circumstance of Fish's life is that he appeared to be a mild-mannered harmless old man who himself had 6 children and many grandchildren. In fact, his daughters were completely sympathetic to this monster and claimed he was the model father to them!

In all an absorbing account of a uniquely deranged psychopath.
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on October 30, 2015
Well, here's the whole story of Ed Gein, the model for the fictional killer in PSYCHO. Yes, he did kill people and did things more horrific than what's in the film. Yes, he did "become" his mother as much as he possibly could. Yet, you will probably feel sympathy for Ed, as I did, since his mother had stifled his normal growth so terribly. Fascinating study of what human beings can get up to when their minds go off track. Interesting story but I'm left with the sincere wish that reincarnation were true because this poor boy deserves another chance at life. But maybe don't move in next door.
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on December 1, 2006
Harold Schechter brings forth the story of Grace Budd's kidnapping and murder at the hands of Albert Fish with vivid clarity almost to the point that you become nauseated. First half of the book is the setup story of the subterfuge snatching of Grace and her violent death. The second half deals with the capture and trial of Fish and his sexual depravities. Fish maintained innocence of having violated Grace's body sexually, but the other horrors he inflicted upon her remains was just as vile. While on death row, Fish admits to a few other attrocities he performed on other children but was never held accountable or proven on them as his death sentence was carried out in early 1936.

Schechter holds the readers interest and is commended for his research. This is an above average true crime book on a demented individual. I prefer his presentation over the semi-pandering, self-inclusiveness of Anne Rule. Next up for me from schechter will be his book on Ed Gien.

Overall, if you read true crime books, you should definitely read this one.
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on April 30, 2016
Well written account of what I consider to be one of the worst serial killers in our history because he targeted children as his victims. Perhaps that is why he is not as notorious as he should be and used as a cautionary tale even for parents in this day and age.

I was amazed at how crimes against children changed so little in the last 100+ years. I always thought it was a horror of the current age with easy transportation, more leisure time, and instant technologies. I now stand corrected in that belief.

It is worth noting as well how dedicated the police were then, as now, in getting these individuals off the streets and in jail. In the end you are left with the arguments for and against insanity which still resonate to this day.

I highly recommend this book especially for those that enjoy true crime. Well researched, well written and illuminating read.
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on January 15, 2014
Unlike most true-crime writers, who write about contemporary criminals, Harold Schechter writes about criminals in the past, primarily in the 1800s and early 1900s. He does a remarkable job of bringing the long-dead characters in his books to life, as well as bringing to life the era in which they lived by describing the current events of the time and integrating them into the account of the criminal's life and activities. I've read several of his books, and they all display this same ability to make the forgotten past as fresh and vivid as today's headlines.

Albert Fish was far from being the worst or most prolific serial killer who ever lived-- at least, based on the number of his known victims-- but he was quite possibly the sickest one who ever lived. He was not just a sadist, but a serious masochist who beat himself with nail-studded boards while masturbating, whipped himself with a cat-o-nine-tails, and even shoved sewing needles up into his body. (One picture in the book is an X-ray of Fish's pelvic area showing numerous needles scattered throughout his lower body. He must have in constant pain, especially when sitting down or getting up-- but he loved pain.) He fantasized about, and perhaps engaged in, coprophagy and urophagia, and wrote sickeningly lurid letters to women he didn't know describing how he longed to drink their urine and gobble their excrement fresh from the source.

He was a bundle of bizarre paradoxes-- for instance, even though he tortured, killed, and ate children, he had six children of his own, and apparently was a kind and loving father to them. He was deeply religious, yet seemed unable to discern the glaring discrepancies between his religious beliefs and his behavior-- or, perhaps, justified his murders by regarding them as "sacrifices" he made to atone for his other sins. He was, in short, a virtual one-man encyclopedia of abnormal psychology-- and "abnormal" is putting it very mildly.

If you think that this era is the only one that has produced truly sick, twisted killers, then you haven't read about Albert Fish. I suggest you do so... if you have the stomach for it.
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on January 10, 2013
I never heard of Albert Fish before reading DERANGED but he was one big sicko! The grandfatherly and harmless looking old man was really the devil in disguise and one cannot help but feel sad thinking about how those children felt once they knew who they were alone with. The author does a good job of telling the story of this deranged man however, I do agree with some reviewers who said they would have liked to know more background about Fish. Aside from that, DERANGED is a good book about a very sick person.
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on January 10, 2007
The book is very well-written and exciting. Good historical information. The level of detail in which the subject's behavior and practices are discussed takes the reader well beyond what you normally get from true crime books. In short, this dude (the killer) is extremely, extremely twisted. Definitely a page turner.
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on March 15, 2007
You cant make stuff like this up. It's more bizarre than the Thomas Harris fiction about Hannibal Lecter. And it's real.

Schechter makes a valid point in the book: Investigators wanted to ignore the accusations about cannibalism. No one was eager to get at it. I find this true in police work. If it's bizarre enough, cops dont wanna go there.

As usual, the subject is fascinating and the writing is excellent. You pretty much know your destination, but Schechter makes the journey very interesting.
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on September 24, 2014
I found this to be very well written - the story flowed well, and I loved the historical context that the author provided. I'm definitely going to check out other works by this author. I don't always enjoy when authors keep switching between different people's perspectives and often find myself just skimming through chapters when this happens, however I felt this time it helped keep the story well balanced.
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on March 15, 2015
Disturbing and not for the squeamish. I thought the author did a great job at giving us an insight into such a sick, twisted individual. I honestly thought nothing could shock me, and then I read this book.
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