5 Albert Fish Books That Will Give You Nightmares

When it comes to the most sadistic serial killers of all time, Albert Fish is near the top of the list. Fish, sometimes known as the Gray Man or the Werewolf of Wysteria, was a murderer, cannibal, necrophile, and child rapist from Brooklyn, New York. While Fish’s murders were what brought him to the attention of the police, his depravity actually stretched much further than simple homicide.

From taunting his victims’ families to pleasuring himself with needles, Albert Fish lived a very weird life. Over the years, plenty of books have been written about the Gray Man, and we’re here to tell you about the best ones you can buy today. Here are the 5 best Albert Fish books to learn everything you need to know about the Brooklyn Vampire.

1. Deranged

Perhaps the most famous biography of Albert Fish, Harold Schechter’s Deranged is a thorough dissection of Fish’s weird life. Written in Schechter’s wistful prose, Deranged reads as much like a fictional horror story as an account of true events.

The book scrutinizes everything about the child killing cannibal, from his troubled upbringing to his first desires to consume young children. The book includes full transcripts of Fish’s vile letters that he sent to police and his victim’s parents, and includes court documents that were previously unavailable to the public until the book’s release in 1990.

For the most comprehensive biography of Fish available today, Deranged is the best option. While it doesn’t explore certain aspects of Fish’s life as much as some other volumes, it’s still a fantastic look into Fish’s bizarre crimes and how he eventually became the sadistic monster he did. Schechter’s other writings includes biographies of Ed Gein, Mary Bell and H.H. Holmes.

2. Albert Fish: In His Own Words

Albert Fish In His Own Words

Albert Fish: In His Own Words was written by award winning independent filmmaker, book editor and author John Borowski, whose documentary series Serial Killer Culture has garnered international acclaim and have been distributed internationally on streaming services for over a decade now. Albert Fish: In His Own Words is little on prose and big on transcripts.

On December 13, 1934, Albert Fish was apprehended by Detective William King for the murder of 10-year-old Grace Budd. Fish’s defense attorney obtained the services of one Dr. Fredric Wertham for Fish’s psychiatric examination. Wertham’s files, including confessions and writings by Albert Fish, are published here for the first time in history.

The book is broken down into a number of sections: Confessions And Other Writings which includes documents handwritten by Fish himself. From The Files Of Dr. Wertham, which includes Fish’s psychiatric examinations and rorschach test results. There are also court transcripts, personal correspondence and Grace Budd & Billy Gaffney confessions transcribed in full.

3. Confessions Of A Cannibal

Over the course of his imprisonment, Albert Fish made a startling number of shocking confessions, to police, press, and his victims’ families. In Confessions of a Cannibal, author Robert Keller takes a deep look into these bizarre claims to help gain insight into Albert Fish’s twisted view of the world.

These confessions come from a number of places, from Fish’s psychiatric examination, Dr Wertham’s files and personal confessions of the child killer written for his own gratification inside prison. While the book doesn’t explore Fish’s childhood or his troubled past, the book is certainly worth the price of admission for the deep dive into Fish’s psyche.

Additionally, Confessions of a Cannibal also includes testimonies from the detectives who hunted Fish down and ultimately apprehended him. It’s a fantastic look into the investigation process in a time that pre-dated DNA and forensic science techniques. For a look into Fish’s depraved mind, as well as how he was hunted down, Confessions of a Cannibal is a good choice.

4. Cannibal; The Case Of Albert Fish

Written by true NY Daily Mirror newspaper reporter Mel Heimer, Cannibal, The Case of Albert Fish was actually the first book on the Gray Man to ever hit the shelves all the way back in 1971. While not as detailed as some of the later books that emerged, Cannibal includes a number of newspaper excerpts that have since been lost to time, and can only be found here.

Where The Case of Albert Fish differs from the other books on the subject is that Heimer has included a fictitious element too. While much of the conversation between Fish and his victims is unknown, Heimer has taken creative liberties and fleshed out the story with imagined dialogue. This also stretches to Fish’s conversations with the arresting officers and his designated psychologists too.

If it’s pure facts you’re looking for, check out one of the other volumes above. However, if you’re looking for something more narrative-driven to keep you up at night, Cannibal, The Case of Albert Fish will do just that.

5. The Show of Violence

The Show Of Violence Albert Fish Book

One of the lesser-known books that discusses Albert Fish, The Show of Violence was written by Fish’s designated psychologist Dr Fredric Wertham himself. Although Fredric Wertham’s book is actually a textbook on forensic psychology, psychiatric care and criminology, Fish makes regular appearances throughout.

This volume is not only rare in the literal sense, but is actually one of the most unique books regarding content too. Wertham speaks in a very scientific prose, often going into expert detail in regards to not only psychology and the criminal mind, but also touches on neuropsychology and sociology too. You’ll need a thorough understanding in order to get the most of it.

When possible, Wertham uses examples from his past cases to highlight his point, many of which include Albert Fish. Fish, it seems, was Wertham’s boogeyman, often pushing Wertham to his limits when it came to his psychoanalyzing abilities. If you’re after a book that does things differently and goes into painstaking detail about Fish’s psychopathology, give The Show of Violence a go.

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