On a moonlit night in December 1900, a prosperous Iowa farmer was murdered in his bed–killed by two blows of an ax to his head. Four days later, the victim’s wife, Margaret Hossack, was arrested at her husband’s funeral and charged with the crime.
The vicious assault stunned and divided the close-knit rural community. The accused woman claimed to be innocent, but stories of domestic troubles and abuse provided prosecutors with a motive for the crime. Neighbors and family members were reluctant to talk about what they knew concerning the couple’s troubled marriage.
Midnight Assassin takes us back to the murder, the investigation, and the trials of Margaret Hossack. The book introduces us to Susan Glaspell, a young journalist who reported the story for the Des Moines Daily News and fifteen years later transformed the events into the classic one-act play, “Trifles”, and the acclaimed short story, “A Jury of Her Peers.”
Patricia L. Bryan and Thomas Wolf researched the Hossack case for almost a decade, combing through the legal records, newspaper accounts, government documents, and unpublished memoirs. The result is a vivid portrait of life in rural America at the turn-of-the century and a chilling step-by-step account of the crime and its aftermath.
The 2022 event was held at Northwest Iowa Community College on Thursday, November 3. The authors spoke, then took many questions from the audience.