The three most important parts of a book are: a well constructed plot, compelling characters, and a satisfying conclusion.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

⭐️⭐️⭐️MIDNIGHT ASSASSIN: A Murder in America's Heartland By Patricia L Bryan, Thomas Wolf

Publisher:  Algonquin Books
Release Date:  2005
Pages:  278
Genre: Non Fiction/True Crime
Format:  Hardcover

Book Description: 
In 1900, Margaret Hossack, the wife of a prominent Iowa farmer, was arrested for bludgeoning her husband to death with an ax while their children slept upstairs. The community was outraged: How could a woman commit such an act of violence? Firsthand accounts describe the victim, John Hossack, as a cruel and unstable man. Perhaps Margaret Hossack was acting out of fear. Or perhaps the story she told was true—that an intruder broke into the house, killed her husband while she slept soundly beside him, and was still on the loose. Newspapers across the country carried the story, and community sentiment was divided over her guilt. At trial, Margaret was convicted of murder, but later was released on appeal. Ultimately, neither her innocence nor her guilt was ever proved.

Patricia Bryan and Thomas Wolf examine the harsh realities of farm life at the turn of the century and look at the plight of women—legally, socially, and politically—during that period. What also emerges is the story of early feminist Susan Glaspell, who covered the Hossack case as a young reporter and later used it as the basis for her acclaimed work “ A Jury of Her Peers.”

Midnight Assassin expertly renders the American character and experience: our obsession with crime, how justice is achieved, and the powerful influence of the media.

Wanda's Thoughts: 
1900 - Iowa - a gruesome murder of an Iowa farmer takes place - a crime that would never be solved. John Hossack's murder was described as being one of the most awful things to ever happen in the state of Iowa. This was a tragic case, not only for the victim and the accused, but also for the family.

There was a long history of conflict in the Hossack family, with numerous family quarrels. John Hossack was unpredictable and prone to bursts of rage. He was a man filled with deep anger and his bad temper could be easily triggered, especially by his wife. But he was remembered in the community as an honorable man and a good farmer.

Margaret Hossack was not popular in the neighborhood. She was a woman who did not make friends easily. It was a case built on circumstantial evidence. Her children surrounded her with loving support, not believing that their mother was capable of this violent murder. She seemed to be a typical farmwife, and committing such a violent crime seemed to be out of character for her.

What really happened that night? Who was the Midnight Assassin? Was Margaret Hossack's story of an unknown intruder plausible?

The Midnight Assassin is sad, disturbing, and eerie, but very slow paced. Most of the book was informative, but was not a real page turner, not having a good flow. I was tempted at times to put it to the side. On a positive note, the authors did their homework on research, and were able to weave together some interesting facts that were quite relevant to this horrible crime. There was some interesting insight on what it must've been like as a woman back in the early 1900's.

My rating is 3 stars - just lukewarm.

Monday, March 7, 2016

⭐️⭐️FEAR THE DARK (Bishop/Special Crimes Unit) By Kay Hooper

Publisher:  Berkley
Genre:  Fiction/Paranormal
Pages:  272
Release Date:  October 20, 2015
Format:  Hardcover

Book Description: 
In New York Times bestselling author Kay Hooper’s new novel, an SCU team investigates a troubling string of disappearances. But how do you find someone who has vanished without a trace?

Something strange is happening in the small mountain town of Serenity, Tennessee. People going on routine errands never reach their destination. It’s as if they simply disappear. Over the past few weeks, it’s happened to five men and women—and now a child.

The local police chief calls the FBI, and a team from the Special Crimes Unit is immediately sent in. Agents Lucas and Samantha Jordan, partners in work and in life, have very different abilities. Samantha is clairvoyant and Lucas possesses a unique ability to find the lost or abducted. With them are new partners Dante Swann, a medium, and Robbie Hodge, a telepath.

The town is already on the edge of panic, but the mysterious events take a sinister turn when a body unrelated to the missing persons case surfaces and one of the SCU agents vanishes. Now, the team’s hunt for the lost has turned into something very personal…and very dangerous.

Wanda's Review: 
There are strange occurrences in the town of Serenity as people are disappearing without a trace. The FBI Special Crimes Unit is brought in to help with the investigation. They are agents with psychic powers who use their special abilities to find lost people.

Unfortunately I struggled with this book, finding it to be disappointing on multiple levels. There was very little depth to both the story line and the characters. I found myself caring very little to what happened to the characters and skimmed through parts of the book. I have many unanswered questions on certain aspects of the story line, and the ending seemed hurried and contrived. I regretted wasting my time on this book. 2 stars.

About the Author: Kay Hooper was born in California, in an air force base hospital since her father was stationed there at the time. The family moved back to North Carolina shortly afterward, so she was raised and went to school there.
The oldest of three children, Kay has a brother two years younger and a sister seven years younger. Her father and brother are builders who own a highly respected construction company, and her mother worked for many years in personnel management before becoming Kay's personal assistant, a position she held until her untimely death in March 2002. Kay's sister Linda works as her Business Manager, Events Coordinator, and is playing a major role in the creation and operation of The Kay Hooper Foundation.

Kay graduated from East Rutherford High School and attended Isothermal Community College — where she quickly discovered that business classes did not in any way enthrall her. Switching to more involving courses such as history and literature, she also began to concentrate on writing, which had been a longtime interest. Very quickly hooked, she asked for a Christmas typewriter and began seriously working on her first novel. That book, a Regency romance titled Lady Thief, sold to Dell Publishing in 1980. She has since published more than 60 novels and four novellas.

Kay is single and lives in a very small town in North Carolina, not far from her father and siblings. Deigning to live with her are a flock of cats — Bonnie, Ginger, Oscar, Tuffy, Felix, Renny, and Isabel — of various personalities who all like sleeping on manuscripts and whatever research happens to be spread across Kay's desk. And living amongst the many felines are two cheerfully tolerant dogs, a shelter rescue, Bandit, who looks rather like a small sheepdog, and a Sheltie named Lizzie.

Kay Robbins is a pseudonym used by her.