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The Midnight Assassin
The Midnight Assassin: Panic, Scandal, and the Hunt for America's First Serial Killer | Skip Hollandsworth
52 posts | 44 read | 106 to read
A sweeping narrative history of a terrifying serial killer--America's first--who stalked Austin, Texas in 1885 In the late 1800s, the city of Austin, Texas was on the cusp of emerging from an isolated western outpost into a truly cosmopolitan metropolis. But beginning in December 1884, Austin was terrorized by someone equally as vicious and, in some ways, far more diabolical than London's infamous Jack the Ripper. For almost exactly one year, the Midnight Assassin crisscrossed the entire city, striking on moonlit nights, using axes, knives, and long steel rods to rip apart women from every race and class. At the time the concept of a serial killer was unthinkable, but the murders continued, the killer became more brazen, and the citizens' panic reached a fever pitch. Before it was all over, at least a dozen men would be arrested in connection with the murders, and the crimes would expose what a newspaper described as "the most extensive and profound scandal ever known in Austin." And yes, when Jack the Ripper began his attacks in 1888, London police investigators did wonder if the killer from Austin had crossed the ocean to terrorize their own city. With vivid historical detail and novelistic flair, Texas Monthly journalist Skip Hollandsworth brings this terrifying saga to life.
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Mitch
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Pickpick

Hollandsworth creates the growing city of Austin well - the politics & the politicians, the streets & institutions. There are some really evocative scenes that took me to 1885, allowing me to really soak up the vibe of the city. The book through doesn‘t hold that intensity of pace throughout, some stretches that were dull - and felt like they were included because the research had been done. A tighter edit may have kept me hooked for longer.

Hooked_on_books I think you did what I like to do—read a book in the place it is set while traveling. I think it adds to both the reading and traveling experiences. 3mo
Mitch @Hooked_on_books definitely! I like to read books set where I‘m going. In this book there‘s a section on the cornerstone celebration they had when building the capital building. I read it ( coincidentally) the morning we did a Capital building tour! 👏🏻👏🏻 3mo
73 likes5 stack adds2 comments
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Amiable
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A book about the search for America‘s first serial killer is an appropriately creepy read for October, right?

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Mitch
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Oops.... i just popped in to have look!

#bookishproblems

AmyG Good job! 5mo
vivastory I thought the tagged book was really interesting 5mo
98 likes2 comments
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CoffeeK8
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This has been a long week, can‘t wait to start relaxing

Bookzombie It really has been a long week. Hope you have a relaxing night and weekend! 6mo
CoffeeK8 @Bookzombie thanks! You too 💕 (edited) 6mo
44 likes2 comments
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Reviewsbylola
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I haven‘t read this one yet, but it‘s on my shelves and has a beautiful map.

#getoutthemap #lilithjuly

KarenUK That really is gorgeous! 😍 7mo
Julsmarshall It is so wonderful! I loved this book! 7mo
Hooked_on_books It‘s a good book! 7mo
Kalalalatja That is a cool map! 7mo
Cinfhen I‘ve previously stacked this book...looks really good 7mo
78 likes5 comments
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Julsmarshall
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Pickpick

So good! A fascinating, true crime story of America‘s first serial killer from, of all places, Austin, Texas. I loved reading about our area landmarks as they related to this chilling story. Highly recommend! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ #truecrime #MountTBR

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Julsmarshall
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Ive been wanting to dive into this ever since I discovered the first American serial killer may have been from Austin, where I live. Really fascinating so far to read about the area I know when they were new and the city was barely more than a cowtown. Max looks skeptical. #hometownmurder #truecrime

TrishB Max is beautiful ❤️ 9mo
batsy Max 😍😍 9mo
65 likes3 stack adds2 comments
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WeAreLegion
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Mehso-so

This is the story of a serial killer in Austin, Texas in 1884 - 1885 that was never brought to justice. The facts are laid out in a nice narrative manner, very well told. I have given this a middling grade only because this book is just beneath the quality of similar historical crime stories such as the amazing ‘Devil in the White City‘ by Erik Larson.

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Jerame2999
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Mehso-so

This is an interesting story but ultimately fell flat. I don‘t see anyone outside of Texas would care. However if you took Texas history at all and want a story that Texans don‘t tell I would give this a shot.

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Mdargusch
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One of America‘s first serial killers terrorized Austin, Texas in the late 1800‘s leaving #human remains all over the city. He killed using an ax, a knife, and an ice pick causing Austin to erect huge structures with giant lights on them to try to deter the killer. #getmovin

Cinfhen Sounds brutal to read😱cool pic 2y
Suet624 Well at least he didn‘t leave poop on the school track like the NJ superintendent has been doing. 😁 2y
emilyhaldi 😬😬 getting killed with an ice pick has been a fear of mine since we watched that one ID show... 2y
Reviewsbylola I‘ve been curious about this one. 2y
Cathythoughts I think I‘ll put this on my Audible list 👍🏻 2y
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bookandbedandtea
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Pickpick

I love history & mysteries (though I generally prefer them to be solved!) so this was a great read. I was impressed by the research & the sheer number of details included, from meals at the restaurants to the name of the man who lit the gas lamps. It's striking that so much is known about the city & it's people yet there are NO CLUES about the killers identity. I'm doubtful he became Jack the Ripper; wish more was known about both! #freakyfriday

RainyDayReading @bookandbedandtea I generally prefer them to be solved too but the story was too compelling. I don‘t think he was Jack the Ripper either but it‘s an interesting theory. The Devil in the White City is also really good! Would definitely recommend! 2y
bookandbedandtea @RainyDayReading It is a really interesting theory and I can see why people drew parallels between the two. I wish more, or anything, was known about both of them. Esp what set them off and why they stopped. Also, in the last few Texas murders, how did he get to women in their houses or yards without anyone hearing anything? Scary! 2y
12 likes3 comments
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bookandbedandtea
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Starting third #freakyfriday read and very much looking forward to it. I'm way behind on usual number of books read in a month, hoping I get through this one a little faster than I have been. @RainyDayReading @Clwojick @monalyisha

RainyDayReading Ooooo can‘t wait to see what you think! I went through this in one sitting when I first got it (: 2y
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bookandbedandtea
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The books from your list are arriving, @RainyDayReading ! I'm excited to read the tagged book first but they all sound intriguing. I bought another of yours on a kindle deal and the rest I'm trying to get from the library. I'm starting to feel ready for #freakyfriday. 😊

RainyDayReading I‘m so excited (and very nervous) for you to read these!! I hope you wind up enjoying them or at least find one that you like 😁 2y
bookandbedandtea I know what you mean, I'm nervous about you reading my books too! But I'm sure I'll like most of them; they sound pretty interesting. I'm getting excited for April! 2y
bookandbedandtea @RainyDayReading thought I tagged you in the above comment but guess I failed. Clearly almost time for bed. 🙃 2y
8 likes3 comments
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Kpulver
Pickpick

Nonfiction events in 1880s Austin.

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AmandaL
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Pickpick

This was an interesting #truecrime audiobook to listen to, especially after reading The Alienist. It chronicles the year in 1880s Austin, TX when the citizens were terrorized by a butcher of women. No one had seen crimes like this before, and the investigation was hampered by inept lawmen, rampant racism and unraveling scandal. It offers no real theories about who the killer might have been, but it kept me listening. #audiobook

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emilyesears
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Pickpick

I‘ve long admired Skip Hollandsworth‘s magazine work in Texas Monthly, so was excited to pick up his first book. This details the crime spree of the Midnight Assassin, a serial killer in Austin, Texas, who between 1884-1887 killed 7 black servant women & then 2 white society women. The killer threw Austin into a panic & stunted its meteoric rise as a modern city. The killer‘s identity has never been discovered. A thrilling true crime story.

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AmandaL
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My latest #audiobook for the car. I started it this morning, which worked out because my commute was an hour longer than usual, and I got through a good chunk of it. #currentlylistening #truecrime

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TheAnitaAlvarez
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So, the theory that this guy was also Jack the Ripper is sorta thin. Like, the victimology is rather different (prostitutes vs. domestic servants), and their MOs are also very distinct.

KimHM Is this the same as the Servant Girl Annihilator? https://99percentinvisible.org/episode/under-the-moonlight/ 2y
TheAnitaAlvarez @KimHM yup, that‘s the one 2y
67 likes3 stack adds2 comments
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TheAnitaAlvarez
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My first book for #ReadHarder2018 challenge! This year looks like I‘ll finish it for sure!

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kevinmlevine
Pickpick

Like a novel

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Mdargusch
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There‘s lots of 1880‘s culture, slipshod police work, murders, and questions in this true crime book. #nuyear
#IAssassin

emilyhaldi 👍🏻👍🏻 2y
Cinfhen Sounds good 💜I like true crime 2y
TrishB Good pick 👍🏻 2y
Reviewsbylola Definitely want to read this! 2y
100 likes3 stack adds4 comments
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TheAnitaAlvarez
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A snapshot of my bullet journal, which I‘m using to keep track of my current reading challenges. Besides Rory Gilmore‘s (which I‘ve been doing for like five years), I‘m trying to read all the Women‘s Prize‘s winners and BookRiot‘s Read Harder (I tried it last year, but life got in the way). I think I‘ll start with The Midnight Assassin because it‘s been in my Kindle for a long while.

Lacythebookworm Love it! 2y
WhatDeeReads 😍 2y
minkyb So pretty! 2y
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TheAnitaAlvarez @minkyb thanks! That‘s the extent of my artistic ability 2y
TNbookworm So creative, ❤it! 2y
tracy.m.ng Would fulfill a book set in one of the BRIC countries! A sad, but empowering book 2y
Megnogged Can we take a minute to appreciate your gorgeous handwriting 🙌🏼 2y
TheAnitaAlvarez @TNbookworm oh, thanks! It‘s pretty basic, but gets the job done 2y
TheAnitaAlvarez @tracy.m.ng actually, I think I gave it to my mum for her birthday a couple of years ago, so it‘s probably around her house 2y
TheAnitaAlvarez @Megnogged hahaha years of calligraphy in school (when I went to elementary school, it was still a thing in my country) 2y
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Mdargusch
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Pickpick

The beginning of this 1880‘s true crime story about a serial killer got bogged down by too many facts about Austin, Texas. The second half of the book depicted “a perfect crime story...a whodunit of murder, madness, and scandal” to quote the author. It is a true mystery - were the murders carried out by one man? Was this murderer also Jack the Ripper? And why are these killings rarely mentioned? There are so many unanswered questions.

Tanzy13 🐶 2y
LeahBergen 👍🏻 2y
Christine11 What a gorgeous little dog 🐶💗 I need to get to this book soon - it sounds so interesting! 2y
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Reviewsbylola Sounds interesting. 🔪 2y
emilyhaldi Reminds me that I need to read my Jack the Ripper book! 🖤 2y
Meredith3 Omg Georgia looks like an angel 2y
Meredith3 @emilyhaldi I need to read a JTR book too, girl! 2y
Lmstraubie Such a sweet puppy 😍🐶 2y
SusanInTiburon Puppeeee! ❤️❤️❤️ 2y
113 likes5 stack adds9 comments
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Mdargusch
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My #currentread - a serial killer is chopping up women in 1880‘s Austin, Texas and the Keystone cops are trying to figure out who it is. It would be laughable if it wasn‘t true. #blackandgold #reindeerreads

emilyhaldi 😳 2y
Reviewsbylola I need to borrow this! Sounds kind of like Devil in the White City. 2y
Mdargusch It reminds me of that too @Reviewsbylola 2y
LeahBergen 👍🏻 2y
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brennahawleycraig
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Bailedbailed

I‘m terrible at bailing on books. But there‘s only so much time and I have so many books I want to read, I can‘t keep going when I don‘t love a book. This was an interesting historical moment - a serial killer who ravaged Austin before the time of Jack the Ripper. But the writing isn‘t what I look for in nonfiction. So...onward!

Mdargusch I just started this today and I‘m finding myself skimming a lot of the historical details. 2y
brennahawleycraig @Mdargusch it‘s all interesting detail but it‘s just like a laundry list of facts from newspaper articles. Definitely interesting topic but I wanted more from the writing. 2y
Mdargusch I agree totally. I want to know about the murders not the culture of Austin in 1888. I‘m going to stick with it though. I do like how there are photos included throughout the book. 2y
24 likes3 comments
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charl08
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Don't mess with the archives...

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Fancypants
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Pickpick

Listened to this one. Pretty interesting if you like stories kinda like Jack the Ripper - there's no concrete ending. And if you like history.

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Hooked_on_books
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Pickpick

This is a terrific narrative nonfiction of a serial killer who stalked the nights of Austin before serial killers were really a thing. If you enjoy true crime, it's a must read. It definitely reveals the ingrained racism of the era, though this is not the book's focus.

Reagan Great review! I am really looking forward to this one. 3y
Crystalblu I hope I can find this on audio! Sounds perfect for the husband and I's next drive! 3y
Texreader Omg! I'm from Austin and never knew about this! This going to be super high on my tbr list now. 3y
64 likes7 stack adds3 comments
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Hooked_on_books
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Just starting this NF about a Jack the Ripper style serial killer in Austin, TX in 1885. There are some great historical photos in here that Austinites would enjoy (I'm looking at you, @Soubhiville ). I bought this book twice (by mistake), so I clearly really wanted to read it! 😂 Good so far in chapter 2.

Soubhiville I've heard about this book, but didn't know about the murders somehow... (I've only lived here for 5 years.). Let me know what you think of it! 3y
53 likes5 stack adds1 comment
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bookshopsc
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Pickpick

Before Jack the Ripper in England, there was Austin, Texas. Home to America's first serial killer (before that term existed), the growing town of Austin and its inhabitants tried to balance their new-found prosperity with the terror of an unknown killer. Deftly written, Hollandsworth's account reads like a thriller, full of scandal, indiscretions, and no easy answers. - Rachel

Tamra I want to read this! 3y
CouronneDhiver Ooo! Sounds good 3y
62 likes11 stack adds2 comments
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Kat.Kao
Pickpick

Great history of a serial killer who terrorized Austin in 1884-1885. It's unsolved, though, which was frustrating!

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BiblioTrekkie
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Pickpick

Currently listening to this. Fascinating!

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BethFishReads
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True crime: as the subtitle says, The Hunt for America's First Serial Killer. Austin, Texas, in the 1880s. Looks fascinating. #24in48 and on my list. Not reading much because I'm so caught up in the #WomensMarch around the world.

Rhondareads I agree so excited so proud to watch this wonderful group of proud women. 3y
BethFishReads @Rhondareads it's unbelievable 3y
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BethFishReads
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So @LeahBergen asked what are you doing tonight -- I am *finally* done with my crazy, busy fall editing work and am now back to normal, as of 6:30pm. SO I'm going to take time to look through some #BookMail Tomorrow I may even read 📚😏

Megabooks Woo hoo!! 🎉🎉 3y
LeahBergen Yay for you! And that looks like some nice book mail 😮 3y
BethFishReads @LeahBergen I'll be sharing books over the next few days. After I catch up with sleep 3y
DebinHawaii Yay!!! I am happy you get some time to rest and hopefully read! 😀👍 3y
BethFishReads @DebinHawaii thanks. I love my job, but miss socializing and reading for pleasure when I'm swamped with projects. @Ebooksandcooks 3y
61 likes5 comments
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k.reads
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Pickpick

This book is more than just a chronicle of our nation's first documented serial killer. It's also a socio-cultural snapshot of a small Texas city in the aftermath of the Civil War. Most compelling to me was not the detective story, but the human story of how people lived in this new world where black people and white people lived as neighbors, rather than masters and slaves, and what implications this new reality had on their ideas of justice.

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k.reads
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Well, it was a good try. 💡🔫🐎

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k.reads
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This is a truly creepy true story made all the more eerie because I live in the town where it took place. This bar is still in operation and I drive by it all the time 😰

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k.reads
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#Texas where bigger=better

quirkyreader It's always bigger in Texas. 3y
16 likes1 comment
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Nitpickyabouttrains
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Pickpick

A story I have never heard about murders in Austin Texas in the 1800s, right before the Jack The Ripper murders in London. It's amazing what history we are never taught

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RespectingRomance
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Mehso-so

My latest completed read in my true crime spree. A quick read about a series of gory murders in 1885 Austin, Texas. Not for anyone who likes a clear answer but if you enjoy city history along with your murders, you‘ll enjoy it.

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CheeseheadSarah
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Picked this one up at the library after a patron recommended it. Enjoying it so far, but avoiding reading it at night before bed!

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k.reads
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At the history center today I spotted a big fat folder of original documents on Austin's own Jack the Ripper-type murderer of the 1880s. Reminded me of this book in my #tbr pile... is it just me, or is summer time a great time for #truecrime ?

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She_ra
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Pickpick

What they describe as "rip roaring". Fast paced, evocatively written in that best skip hollandsworth way, full of fascinating characters very well drawn. Not a book w depth per se but a super enjoyable one. Elevating it to "must read" if you live in Austin (as I do), or even Texas in general- incredible look into the city's past, including stuff that's been largely forgotten

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Kris10Reads
Pickpick

So interesting! This story is one I haven't come across in all the years of my true crime fascination. Definitely worth the read!

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brendanmleonard
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TFW you swear you're only gonna get two things from the library at lunch...but then you (re)discover the true crime section.

BookishFeminist /me on a regular basis 4y
Victoria_C I love his work so I can't edit to read this. I read the free preview a while ago. 4y
64 likes4 stack adds2 comments
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Texasblues

My library hold is waiting to be picked up - and it looks like another 3-4 of them are on the way. Why do they all come in at once? #bookwormproblems

CaitlinSiem I kid you not, I said the same thing the other day on Twitter when 6 of the ebooks I requested showed up at once (and they all had a variety of people in front of me). It's so weird when that happens! 4y
Texasblues I know, right? Do people turn them in early or something? 4y
b.olsenboblitt This happens to me all of the time. It always seems like I have 3 or 4 holds that come through at once... 4y
10 likes3 comments
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Readasaurus_rex
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This true story is proof that classism and racism lead to very poor, stupid, and illogical conclusions. Oh my god, the white people of Austin were SO DUMB in the 1880s. Ugh.

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Readasaurus_rex
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This book did not keep me awake last night, even though I expected it to. So gruesome I thought I would have nightmares, but nope!

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Readasaurus_rex
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I think the coolest thing about reading a true crime book about your favorite city is getting to see all the old pictures of places you've seen countless times before. #ATX #congressave

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Readasaurus_rex
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I went to a speaking and signing for this author tonight, which is weird since I live in such a small town! It sounds like a really interesting book about the first serial killer in America, in Austin, TX, where I lived for 10 years!

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