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."
Also recommended: Depraved, Schechter's book about Herman Mudgett a.k.a. Dr. H. H. Holmes.