- Paperback: 336 pages
- Publisher: Picador; Reprint edition (April 11, 2017)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1250118492
- ISBN-13: 978-1250118493
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.9 x 8.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 15.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 225 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #87,582 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Midnight Assassin: The Hunt for America's First Serial Killer Paperback – April 11, 2017
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"The Silent Patient" by Alex Michaelides
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“Skip Hollandsworth knows his way around a crime scene…Fans of Erik Larson’s 2003 hit, The Devil in the White City…will find similar pleasures here. This is true crime of high quality. . . Mr. Hollandsworth handles gruesome details with a smart, restrained touch…Chilling."―The New York Times
"Gripping and atmospheric...This true crime page-turner is a balanced and insightful examination of one of the most stirring serial killing sprees in American history, and certainly one of the least well-known."―Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)
“Readers who loved The Devil in the White City now have the pleasure of reading The Midnight Assassin. It paints a compelling portrait of a culture at a turning point – that is, the capitol of Texas at the end of the 19th Century, when the barbarism of the frontier was giving way to the savagery of urban life.”―Lawrence Wright, Pulitzer Prize-winning author The Looming Towerand Thirteen Days in September
“As a magazine journalist, Skip Hollandsworth has forged a reputation as one of the best storytellers in the country. The Midnight Assassin takes his singular narrative skills to a thrilling new level. Reading this book is like cracking open a time capsule and breathing the air of a vanished era. In Hollandsworth's hands, one of the ghastliest and most inscrutable crimes in American history becomes hair-raisingly immediate, and the mystery at its center grows ever more mysterious with every page.”―Stephen Harrigan, author of The Gates of the Alamo and A Friend of Mr. Lincoln
"Skip Hollandsworth has achieved a literary miracle with The Midnight Assassin. With haunting granularity, Hollandsworth breathes vivid life into a forgotten, century-old tale of the hunt for America's first diabolical serial murderer―set in, of all places, the quaint but upwardly mobile town of Austin, Texas. To read The Midnight Assassin is to experience the lost innocence of a 19th-century capital city set on edge by the unseen monster in its midst."―Robert Draper, The New York Times Magazine and author of Dead Certain
"Skip Hollandsworth, one of the great true-crime writers of our era, has brought his remarkable talent to bear on one of the most fascinating untold criminal stories in American history. The Midnight Assassin captures a time, a place, and a feeling―booming Texas in the latter 19th century―in a way no nonfiction account I have read has done. A jewel of a book."―S.C. Gwynne, author of Empire of the Summer Moon and Rebel Yell
“Skip Hollandsworth has a bloodhound's nose for a great tale. With The Midnight Assassin, he's found the perfect subject for his many talents. Through scrupulous research and a finely tuned sense of the gothic, Hollandsworth has brought this Texas-sized true-crime story, more than a century old, to vivid, chilling life on the page.”―Hampton Sides, author of Hellhound On His Trail and In the Kingdom of Ice
"As the state of Texas's best-known magazine writer, Skip Hollandsworth is not just a Lone Star treasure, but a national treasure. In this, his first book, he uncovers the amazing untold story of America's first serial killer, a phantom who stalked the streets of Austin in 1885, three years before Jack the Ripper. Whether you love true crime, history or Texana, The Midnight Assassin is bursting at the seams with everything you want in a great book; a spellbinding mix of mystery, horror and historical detective work. It's the book Hollandsworth was born to write.''―Bryan Burrough, Vanity Fair special correspondent and author of Barbarians at the Gate, Days of Rage and The Big Rich
About the Author
Skip Hollandsworth is an award-winning journalist, screenwriter, and executive editor of Texas Monthly magazine. His work was included in the 2006 edition of Best American Crime Writing and he has won a National Magazine Award for feature writing. Hollandsworth co-wrote the acclaimed screenplay "Bernie" with director Richard Linklater. He lives in Texas with his wife.
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The book, while mostly interesting, reads really almost more like a research paper or a dissertation than a book. More time was spent describing events, styles and general happenings in 1885 Austin than dissecting the actual murders and their aftermath. I understand that the author had to work with the limited information available to him, but I felt more like a was reading a book about the politics of Austin, the building of the capital, the growth, the outdoor lighting and general philosophy of the day than reading a mystery.
Definitely a well researched book, worth reading (particularly for Texans) and full of interesting tid bits of the day.
Author Skip Hollandsworth has brilliantly captured the time and place in his re-creation of the hunt for an unknown killer with the burgeoning growth of Austin, Texas from frontier town to the bustling metropolis of a state capital. A fascinating study which combines all the fear generated by crimes of appalling depravity, investigative incompetence by "Town Hall", racial intolerance and political shenanigans in late 19th. Century Austin.
As much a history of a city as of a crime, best summed up by the author's own words in his notes section: "In many ways, Austin became the most interesting character in the book, an intoxicating mixture of the Old South, the Old West, and the new Gilded Age. Because the murders affected every level of Austin society -from the most privileged members of white society to desperately impoverished African-Americans- I had a rare opportunity to create a portrait of race, class, gender, urban life, and, most significantly, the nature of American violence."
In 1884 to 1885, someone was slaughtering women in Austin, Texas. Both black servants and white society women were targeted, and were killed by ax blows to the head. No one ever got a good look at the killer but witnesses insisted he was black. No, white. Bloodhounds brought in to track the killer could never get a proper scent since the crime scenes were trampled by family, police and the multitude of "lookie lou" townspeople.
In 1888, when Jack the Ripper began carving up Whitechapel prostitutes, London police wondered if it was the American Midnight Assassin come to town.
The reason I've mentioned Erik Larson is because Midnight Assassin is very much like Larson's book "The Devil in the White City" in which serial killer H.H. Holmes built a "murder hotel" at the 1893 World's Fair so he could experiment on, torture, and murder people who came to the fair.
Midnight Assassin includes photos from 1880s Austin, and interesting facts about the city and its citizens.