Thursday, 8 September 2016

Review: Angel Killer by Deborah Blum

Title: Angel Killer
Author: Deborah Blum
Publisher: The Atavist
Pages: 39
Genres: Non-fiction, Narrative, True Crime

Angel Killer
In the mid-1920s, young children began to vanish from neighborhoods around New York City. It took the police a decade to find their abductor, an unassuming 64-year-old handyman named Albert Fish. Fish had committed crimes of unspeakable horror: He had not only abducted and murdered the children, but also tortured and, in some cases, eaten them. During Fish's trial, some of the country's most prominent psychiatrists debated the exact nature of Fish's crimes. Was he evil or insane? Who had the power to determine where one ended and the other began? At stake was not just the prospect of justice for Fish and his victims, but also the future of the new science of criminal behavior—the idea that society’s worst monsters needed to be both punished and understood. Award-winning journalist Deborah Blum tells the story of a notorious cannibal killer, the detective who brought him to justice, and the scientists who tried to make sense of his crimes.
Issue number 18 of the Atavist magazine. Very short, this is an intriguing look at a cannibalistic child killer, Albert Fish in 1920s New York. No details of his crimes are dressed up and the facts are presented clinically which chilled me to the bone. The crimes described are so dark and I can't come to terms with the fact that those crimes actually happened. What a horrible way to die. Fish was a sick, disturbed individual.

Blum examines how the killer was caught and his subsequent trial. It was interesting to read how the insanity defence unfolded and what the legal attitudes of the time were towards madness. Learning about the role early forensic science played in the case was also illuminating.

Because this was kindle single was so short and fascinating, I found myself wanting more elaboration and more details of the case but it was still a great way to pass half an hour. Recommended for a reader who wants a quick article-style read.


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