New Book: The Midnight Assassin: Panic, Scandal, and the Hunt for America’s First Serial Killer, by Skip HollandsworthHome | New Books | New Book: The Midnight Assassin: Panic, Scandal, and the Hunt for America’s First Serial Killer, by Skip Hollandsworth
This is the best historical true crime book of 2016. Some authors crank out books, some of them write books, and an elite few craft a great book over years of unimaginable diligence and Skip Hollandsworth has produced a new American classic. I read it this weekend and I can tell you that the writing is so exquisite, that it’s like being connected to a virtual reality headset that takes you back to the panic and horror of a serial-killer whose murder spree was more daring than Jack the Ripper–before there even was a Jack the Ripper. The eBook and print version are priced about what you would expect for a book with a decade of work behind it, but that doesn’t matter. This book is an experience, not some superficial read. Do whatever you got to do to get this book. – Jason Lucky Morrow
A sweeping narrative history of a terrifying serial killer–America’s first–who stalked Austin, Texas in 1885
In the late 1800s, the city of Austin, Texas was on the cusp of emerging from an isolated western outpost into a truly cosmopolitan metropolis. But beginning in December 1884, Austin was terrorized by someone equally as vicious and, in some ways, far more diabolical than London’s infamous Jack the Ripper. For almost exactly one year, the Midnight Assassin crisscrossed the entire city, striking on moonlit nights, using axes, knives, and long steel rods to rip apart women from every race and class. At the time the concept of a serial killer was unthinkable, but the murders continued, the killer became more brazen, and the citizens’ panic reached a fever pitch.
Before it was all over, at least a dozen men would be arrested in connection with the murders, and the crimes would expose what a newspaper described as “the most extensive and profound scandal ever known in Austin.” And yes, when Jack the Ripper began his attacks in 1888, London police investigators did wonder if the killer from Austin had crossed the ocean to terrorize their own city.
With vivid historical detail and novelistic flair, Texas Monthly journalist Skip Hollandsworth brings this terrifying saga to life.
“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
“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
“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 Tower and Thirteen Days in September
“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
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