Arsenic, a midwife, and modern history’s most astonishing murder ring. Patti McCracken’s masterful true crime thriller, The Angel Makers (HarperCollins, March 2023), is a narrative tour de force rooted in meticulous research and detail-driven storytelling (no surprise there, given the author’s journalism bona fides).
Join us on August 24, at 6:00pm, to celebrate this exciting debut with the author. The evening will feature a discussion and Q&A, as well as an opportunity to purchase signed and personalized copies of the book.
Tickets are $10 for members, $15 for the public.
Please click here or call us at 843-723-9912.
About the Book
The Angel Makers is a true-crime story like no other—a 1920s midwife who may have been the century’s most prolific killer leading a murder ring of women responsible for the deaths of at least 160 men.
The horror occurred in a rustic farming enclave in modern-day Hungary. To look at the unlikely lineup of murderesses—village wives, mothers, and daughters—was to come to the shocking realization that this could have happened anywhere, and to anyone. At the center of it all was a sharp-minded village midwife, a “smiling Buddha” known as Auntie Suzy, who distilled arsenic from flypaper and distributed it to the women of Nagyrév. “Why are you bothering with him?” Auntie Suzy would ask, as she produced an arsenic-filled vial from her apron pocket. In the beginning, a great many used the deadly solution to finally be free of cruel and abusive spouses.
But as the number of dead bodies grew without consequence, the killers grew bolder. With each vial of poison emptied, a new reason surfaced to drain yet another. Some women disposed of sickly relatives. Some used arsenic as “inheritance powder” to secure land and houses. For more than fifteen years, the unlikely murderers aided death unfettered and tended to it as if it were simply another chore—spooning doses of arsenic into soup and wine, stirring it into coffee and brandy. By the time their crimes were discovered, hundreds were feared dead.
Anonymous notes brought the crimes to light in 1929. As a skillful prosecutor hungry for justice ran the investigation, newsmen from around the world—including the New York Times—poured in to cover the dramatic events as they unfolded.
The Angel Makers captures in expertly researched detail the entirety of this harrowing story, from the early murders to the final hanging—the story of one of the most sensational and astonishing murder rings in all of modern history.
About the Author
Patti McCracken is a long-time journalist and twice a Knight International Press Fellow. For two decades, she was a journalism trainer, free press advocate and newsroom consultant in Eastern and Central Europe, the Balkans, the Caucasus, and later North Africa and Southeast Asia. She was based in an Austrian village on the Slovak border.
Over 20+ years, her articles appeared in Chicago Tribune, San Francisco Chronicle, Wall Street Journal, Guardian, Smithsonian magazine, and many more outlets. She is a member of PEN America.
The Angel Makers is her first book.
She resides on Martha’s Vineyard.