Midnight Assassin: A Murder in America's Heartland Book Signing on April 24

For immediate release March 31, 2005


Contact: Jeff Morgan, Marketing/Public Relations, Iowa Historical Foundation, Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs; (515) 281-3858; Jeff.Morgan@iowa.gov

What: Authors Patricia Bryan and Thomas Wolf, graduates of the University of Iowa, visit the State Historical Building for a book signing event for their new novel: Midnight Assassin: A Murder in America's Heartland.

When: Sunday, April 24, 2005, at 2:00 p.m.

Where: The State Historical Building Atrium & Iowa Museum Store, 600 E. Locust Street, Des Moines, IA 50319

Details: Free and open to the public. Advance telephone interviews with authors are available.

A Turn-of-the-century Iowa murder remains unsolved to this day.

“Historical whodunit devotees who have devoured all the literature on famous real-life mysteries will delight in this stirring and evocative account of an obscure turn-of-the-century Iowa murder… (Bryan and Wolf) vividly portray the era’s attitudes toward women (indicated by a tolerance of domestic abuse) while crafting a tale that reads like a good novel.” – Publishers Weekly

University of Iowa graduates Patricia Bryan and Thomas Wolf visit the State Historical Building on Sunday, April 24, 2005 at 2 p.m. for a book signing event of their most recent offering, Midnight Assassin, the story of a notorious family tragedy that caused a media frenzy and captivated the American public more than 100 years ago, and that today still remains an unsolved mystery. Midnight Assassin's publication date is April 1, 2005.

Patricia Bryan and Thomas Wolf are husband and wife. Bryan has been a professor of law at the University of North Carolina since 1982. 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 in 1997. Wolf received and MFA from the Iowa Writer’s Workshop and now works as a writing consultant for the Association of American Medical Colleges. They are both graduates of the University of Iowa and live in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, with their three sons.

Midnight Assassin explores the story of Margaret Hossack, the wife of a prominent Indianola, Iowa, farmer who was arrested in 1900 for bludgeoning her husband to death with an ax while their children slept upstairs. The crime and ensuing trial had the Warren County community in an uproar. Residents who thought Hossack was innocent were afraid of a murderer on the loose; their challengers concluded that Hossack must be the killer because she lacked the feminine ideals of delicacy and restraint.

The sensational trial and prominent victim attracted widespread media attention. One of the first journalists on the scene was Susan Glaspell, a reporter for the Des Moines Daily News from 1898 to 1901. More than 15 years later, Glaspell reworked her accounts of the trial into a one-act play, Trifles, and the celebrated story, A Jury of Her Peers, later selected by John Updike as one of the Best Short Stories of the Century.

Both a vivid portrayal of what life was like in small town America at the turn-of-the-20th-century and a chilling step-by-step account of the murder and its aftermath, Midnight Assassin is a true story of scandal, sexism, and community prejudice that delves into what really happened the night John Hossack was killed.



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