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The Angel Makers: Arsenic, a Midwife, and Modern History's Most Astonishing Murder Ring

by Patti McCracken

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721374,400 (3.25)2
History. True Crime. Nonfiction. HTML:

The Angel Makers is a true-crime story like no otherâ??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 murderessesâ??village wives, mothers, and daughtersâ??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 NagyrĂ©v. "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 choreâ??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 worldâ??including the New York Timesâ??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 hangingâ??the story of one of the most sensational and astonishing murder rings in all of mod… (more)

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“Yes. I am an Angel maker.”

In NagyrĂ©v, a small village beside the Tisza River in Hungary, Suzannah Fazekas known as ‘Auntie Suzy’ relishes her role as midwife. It not only brings her material benefits like a home supplied by the village council, and a healthy salary, but also an authority over life and death seldom questioned. This is why, and how, Fazekas was able to kill with impunity for over twenty years.

Combining years of research with a creative narrative, Patti McCracken tells a compelling story of a murderous conspiracy in The Angel Makers, which has ‘Auntie Suzy’ at its heart. With arsenic steeped from flypaper the midwife assisted the women of Nagyrev, and further afield, to dispatch as many as 160 husbands, inconvenient relatives, and unwanted infants. Likely more. It’s an astonishing tale of hubris, greed, and narcissism on the part of Suzannah that played out early in the 1900’s, though the motives of some women she ‘helped’, particularly those who were victims of abuse and poverty, were often more complicated. Ultimately indictments were brought against sixty-six women and seven men (as accomplices) from NagyrĂ©v, TiszakĂŒrt, and CibakhĂĄza. Twenty-nine women and two men went to trial for the murder of forty-two men. Sixteen women, and both men, were convicted.

The Angel Makers has a storytelling narrative, unraveling not unlike a murder mystery novel. McCracken evokes an authentic sense of place and time, and I feel her portrayal of the people involved in the case are generally convincing and nuanced. There is perhaps an overload of description at times which I felt slowed the pacing.

A fascinating examination of a sensational true crime case, The Angel Makers is an interesting read. And the postscript is sure to leave you stunned. ( )
  shelleyraec | Apr 12, 2023 |
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History. True Crime. Nonfiction. HTML:

The Angel Makers is a true-crime story like no otherâ??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 murderessesâ??village wives, mothers, and daughtersâ??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 NagyrĂ©v. "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 choreâ??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 worldâ??including the New York Timesâ??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 hangingâ??the story of one of the most sensational and astonishing murder rings in all of mod

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