Clearly this was supposed to be the next Erik Larson book. The development of the city of Austin alongside the story of a serial killer in the days where the term hadn't been invented yet. In this case, the townspeople were loathe to investigate due to the race and status of the victims. Separately this could have been two interesting books, but together it was a long, dragged out "story" where all the players ran together. If it were edited further or separated into two separate books it would have been a better read. Quite accurate recounting of unknown terror in Austin, Texas in the year of to A burgeoning community living in constant fear of a serial killer that has never been identified nor captured.
Noirish chapter of American history. Got sucked into reading the book with its blurbs: "Serial Killer," "Midnight Assassins," "the Hunt" etc. I almost nodded off Rather, just some collated reports of a hacker or hackers of Austinites. Should be tagged under "History of Austin" instead.
But a negative 1. Written by Texas Monthly writer and editor Skip Hollandsworth, this book has been compared to "Devil in the White City" for its story of an early-day serial killer.
- The Midnight Assassin: The Hunt for America's First Serial Killer.
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The midnight assassin operated in Texas in the late s, mostly around Austin, and was never identified. Hollandsworth offers several plausible possibilities, and gives the reader a vivid picture of crime detection and society at that time.
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Hollandsworth also co-wrote the screenplay for the movie "Bernie" starring Jack Black, which was based on story he wrote for TM about a murder in east Texas. I enjoyed reading about the history of Texas in the 's and what life was like for the citizens. It just seems kind of icky to do reviews on true crime books. Despite that, my inner CSI detective forces me to read a couple every year. I must also admit that I like how it made my parents nervous when I started reading them as a teen and how people don't sit next to me on the bus when I read one now. I have lived in south Texas most of my life and despite an interest in true crime stories, never knew about the information Hollandsworth reveals in this book.
In the s a man killed 5 women in the Austin area and no one heard a sound. There were few witnesses and fewer clues. No one has ever discovered his identity. The police could do little more than round up the known criminals and yes there was a lot of racial profiling in the process but these actions brought them no closer to the killer.
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Hollandsworth is a little heavy on description at times, almost as if he was more concerned with word count than actual telling of the story. This fact however does not detract from the telling. It is well researched and includes numerous photos. The murders ruined political careers and spurred Austin to purchase giant arc lamps from Detroit so that no part of the city would be dark at night.
The Midnight Assassin by Skip Hollandsworth - Review | | BookPage
There are some who apparently try to connect these crimes to H. Holmes and Jack the Ripper, but aside from their victim selection the methods were very different. I particularly enjoyed all of the history of south Texas that was entwined with the story itself. It taught me that there's still a lot for me to learn about the city I live in. I really wanted to like this book. I wanted to explore the mystery of who did the killings.
Instead, I got what felt like a half baked description of the killings and a big shoulder shrug at the end. No, I most definitely did not expect the author to name the killer s , but at least give a list of likely suspects. Could have been so much better. They were bothered by the ash from the carbon that drifted down onto their heads, singeing their hair. The drunken cowboys who came to town on Saturday nights were not deterred at all by the tall towers. They circled them on their horses, firing their pistols at the lights, whooping with glee.
But here in the city of Austin in the Nineteenth Century, these crimes seem to have nothing to palliate their naked brutality and gaping wounds. As yet, the ablest detectives can advance no satisfactory theory to account for their commission. Nor did he buy into the theories that the killers were hardened criminals with prison records or saloon drunks with violent streaks.
Despite all the years Chenneville had spent chasing criminals, the truth was that he was not exactly an experienced homicide detective. None of the killings had been carefully planned out, and more often than not they were carried out in front of at least one eyewitness. Rarely did a killer even try to flee. One thing Howe did not do was investigate the four or five murders that occurred in Austin every year. After nearly two and a half years of investigations and dozens of arrests, not one And scattered around the city are fifteen moonlight towers.
The attacks stopped as suddenly as they started, and the city eventually moved on. First, though, they debated whether their killer had moved across the Atlantic and taken up residence in London, murdering prostitutes. With the ready-made comparison already echoing through the contemporary accounts, Hollandsworth uses it as well, a little too often. Investigative techniques of the era couldn't compete with the killer, and there is no evidence left to double-check.
Email Newsletter. Log In. Toggle navigation MENU. Email Address. Not entirely satisfying but an engaging true-crime tale nonetheless. Review Posted Online: Jan.