“The Midnight Assassin” by Skip Hollandsworth is different from the other books I have been reading this semester because it is a true story written by a journalist who has done extensive research on the subject; the subject being a string of gruesome murders in 1800’s Austin, Texas. So I guess not that different from my usual scary murder mysteries.
The events take place before Austin was the booming metropolis that we know now. Back when a mayor was still trying to get people to move to Texas and when west Texas was still filled with outlaws and the rangers chasing them down. In this sleepy little prairie town, someone began killing women, and killing them indiscriminately. Most of the women were chopped to pieces and bludgeoned with an ax or an ax-like object. It started with servant women and, this being the 1800’s, no one really took much notice until two prominent Austin women were murdered on Christmas Eve, no more than an hour a part.
The mayor and sheriff were frantic. The people of Austin were in an uproar. No one knew when this killer would strike next or who he was. It was an election year, and the mud- slinging was something to rival this year’s presidential election. One of the men running for governor was even blamed for sleeping with one of the murdered women, and her husband was accused of killing her when he found out.
It was a dark time for Austin, and it would get even darker before it was finally over.
I really enjoy historical fiction, especially when it has all the intrigue, panic and scandal that this one has. However, it was a little slow in parts. You would think that a story about a murderer who was compared to Jack the Ripper couldn’t get boring, but, in places, it does.
I would like to warn anyone who is thinking of reading this book that it is set in the 1800s, and there is some sexism and racism. Keep that in mind while reading, and know that I do not believe the author is promoting any of it; I think he’s just telling it the way it would have been back then.
Overall, “The Midnight Assassin” is a good book if you like murder and gore. Push through the boring parts because they do have a purpose. You have to have a lot of background knowledge before the murders mean anything to you, and that is what Hollandsworth is trying to give the reader in the boring sections.