Midnight Assassin by Patricia L. Bryan
A Murder in America's Heartland (Bur Oak Book)

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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.

About Patricia L. Bryan

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Patricia Bryan is a professor of law at the University of North Carolina. She is the author of “Stories in Fiction and in Fact: Susan Glaspell’s ‘A Jury of Her Peers’ and the 1901 Murder Trial of Margaret Hossack,” which was published in the Stanford Law Review. Thomas Wolf received an M.F.A. from the Iowa Writer’s Workshop and is a writing consultant for the Association of American Medical Colleges. The authors are graduates of the University of Iowa. They are married and live in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
Published April 1, 2005 by Algonquin Books. 297 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Political & Social Sciences, Crime.

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As she is arrested and the case brought to trial, the authors, largely through contemporary coverage by the Iowa journalist Susan Glaspell (later to become a feminist advocate), flesh out the life and times of a farm wife at the turn of the century.

Apr 01 2005 | Read Full Review of Midnight Assassin: A Murder i...

Entertainment Weekly

Midnight Assassin (2005) For those sick of high-profile celebrity trials, there's a strange satisfaction to be found in the story of Margaret Hossack.

Mar 28 2005 | Read Full Review of Midnight Assassin: A Murder i...

USA Today

Nevertheless, the author allows church members to engage in rambling character assassinations of other church members.

| Read Full Review of Midnight Assassin: A Murder i...

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