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.