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A Twist at the End
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A Twist at the End

3.72 of 5 stars 3.72  ·  rating details  ·  326 ratings  ·  38 reviews
Austin, Texas, in 1885 is a place of dust and dreams, quick riches, and wild desires. But "the Servant girl Annihilators" are also making it a city of fear. The first victim, a mulatto housekeeper, is torn from her bed and murdered. Six more women will die, including pretty blond Eula Phillips, who is bank clerk's Will Porter's lover. Over a decade later, living in New Yor ...more
Paperback, 576 pages
Published December 9th 2001 by Minotaur Books (first published 2000)
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(Actually if the goodreads rating system allowed for it, I'd give this one three-and-a-half stars.) This author is mainly known for his series of entertaining historical novels set in Ancient Rome. (I've enjoyed the ones I've read. While not at the level of Colleen McCullough or Hilary Mantel, still, it's well-done historical fiction.) This is historical fiction in its own way, of a different kind. The author's cleverly taken some historical facts about Austin, Texas in the 1880s --- and the lif ...more
This story is a wonderfully written fictionalised account of the crimes committed against, mainly, black servant women in the recent post-civil war era in Austin, Texas and, as such, represents something of a departure for its author. Saylor is rightly lauded for his Sub Rosa series featuring first century B.C.E sleuth Giordianus the finder in novels such as Roman Blood. However, this book is also about crimes, and particularly horrible ones at that, and their solutions in the context of a socie ...more

“Whites and coloreds mixed more freely at the tramp level of society.”—page 102
“…there’s no point dwelling on when bygones was used-to-be’s.”—page 471

Steven Saylor’s ‘A Twist at the End: A Novel of O. Henry’ is a very well, and cleverly, written historical-fiction based on a real series of gruesome murders in Austin, Texas in the mid-1880s; at a time when a young William Sydney Porter—later to become famous as the master short-story writer, O. Henry—was a resident of that ci
I'm looking forward to reading this book about the serial killer in Austin in the late 1880s. I even have a map of Austin during the 1890s so I can look stuff up if needed. David just read it and enjoyed it.

So, I finished the book and wasn't overly impressed. Some small interesting facts about Austin, but I found some of the story lines a bit cheesy and the foreshadowing was way obvious.
Caroline Hodge
Only realised it was based upon a real set of historical murders and characters in the Author's Note at the end. Explains why it was more gruesome than Saylor's usual.
Disturbing, somewhat sickening, with its roots in the role and rights of women and coloured in the late 19th century.
Bit heavy going though. And I can't say I liked anyone, except maybe the sculptress, and Howard. If we were to only see Eula Phillips from Will Porter's point of view, her actions, or at least, what we later saw her
May 15, 2008 SingingSparrow rated it 1 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: no one
Recommended to SingingSparrow by: referred to after reading authors other novel
I read this book after reading and loving Saylor's other novel, Have You Seen Dawn? Unfortunately it just wasn't enough to keep me engaged. It was interesting but only to a point. I don't think I could reccommend it to anyone.
Captain Curmudgeon
Serial murder business based on O. Henry. Didn't like the characterization of William Sydney Porter, which seems to have been fictional. Hope his heirs sue the author and win.
I really couldn't finish it. Loved the idea, not the execution.
Anna Ligtenberg
ISBN 0684856816 - When I picked up a copy of this book, it was with the hope of selling it for a reasonable price. Usually, I curse the (insert bad word)s who ruin book prices by selling for a penny. In this case, I thank them! Unable to sell it, I thought I'd read it and am glad I did.

Will Porter was living in Texas when one of America's earliest serial killers started killing. At first, the murders were of blacks, and the city seemed to care little about the loss of life. Porter's interest is
Simon Mcleish
Originally published on my blog here in February 2002.

William Porter, better known as writer O. Henry, had a secret past which only came to light with his early death at the height of his fame. As a young man, he lived in the city of Austin, Texas, at a time when the state was moving away from its earlier Wild West lawlessness. There, he had embezzled money from the bank where he worked, and had run away to the Honduras, a country with which the US had no extradition treaty and which became the
Interesting historical fiction novel about early Austin in the 1800s during the serial murder spree by the unsub dubbed the Servant Girl Annihilator. American iconic writer O.Henry (William Sydney Porter) is injected into the life and times of some of the characters, and while fictional, it serves to spice up the story. Although the case was never solved, the author presents a resolution that comes as no surprise as the story moves along. This story piqued my interest and I would like to read mo ...more
Living in Austin, I thought that the historical landmarks were very interesting. I like the way several of the places mentioned in the story are still here today. As for the story itself, I was not impressed. It felt very anti-climatic since the "clues" throughout the book were obvious and left the ending as no surprise at all.
At first, I couldn't really get into this book and just kept reading it because I am stubborn. But in the end, I did like it. This book just had more melancholy than usual for Saylor's books, so it wasn't completely a "fun" read. Also, since I enjoy Saylor's Roman mysteries so much, I may have not connected with the much different time/place setting of this book. If you enjoy trying to figure out a mystery before the solution is revealed at the end, this book may not be for you. It is fairly obv ...more
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Good book - my interview with the author ran here

i have been reading this fascinating read - based on some amazing austin history (a series of killings in austin in the 1880s preceding the killings of jack the ripper in london)... to prep for an interview with the author, Steven Saylor, himself of London.

I've never considered myself a fan of the mystery genre. Books, movies, TV shows, never much cared for them. I hunted down a copy of "A Twist at the End" because it's one of the very few books written about or around the "servant girl annihilator" murders. Victorian era serial killers are a secret passion of mine. Anyway, right off the top I was taken in by Saylor's style and rapturous storytelling. Lots of characters and many parallel and overlapping sub-plots aren't enough to slow this book do ...more
A different kind of book from Steven Saylor. He writes about a series of murders that occurred in Austin, Texas, in 1885. These gruesome murders happened three years before the Jack the Ripper murders in England. It began with African-American servants being killed and THEN raped at/after the moment of death. The savagery inflicted on the victims appalled the towns people with its bloodiness. The murderer(s) were never apprehended and as time passed the events slowly passed from public conscious ...more
For me, the "twist" was finding out at the end that the book was fact-based. Saylor paints a nice picture of Austin, which I found interesting as I picked up the book on a visit to that city.
Kelley Hazen
This a fine book. Very engaging. Particularly if you like unsolved crime and courtroom scenes encased in the Ol West of Texas. A fictional (?) look at the life and early times of O. Henry. My sophomore English teacher DR Smith taught me to look for 'universalities' and this book is full of them. Saylor weaves a very specific, graphic and luxurious web of color, sight, sound and emotion. Good story, good characters. I enjoyed it. A TWIST AT THE END is an entertaining read. ( Although I did guess ...more
Great story, even if some of it did seem a bit extraneous. The story is a fictional account of an actual serial murder that occurred in Austin in the mid-1880s. A murder that seems to have faded into the background and is not well-known. Mr. Saylor blends fact and fiction in an interesting way and gives a breakdown of fact and fiction at the end of the book. Nicely done, and a great look at a piece of Austin's history and characters.
Mary Moran
Good book-I wonder how much of it mirrors the reality.
I'm loving this because it is largely set in early Texas...and I know pretty much all the settings, and most of the people. I absolutely adore Saylor's Roma Sub Rosa series, and was floored to discover that he'd written a novel featuring Elisabet Ney, a "Texas" sculptor who was buds with Crazy King Ludwig of Bavaria, among others. Like his Romas series better, but definitely enjoying this one.
The slow pace of this book was a little annoying, but I did want to finish it to see if my prediction of who did the murders was correct. If you are an O Henry fan, you will enjoy this book. An enjoyable aspect of this book is that it's based on true facts surrounding the unsolved murders in Austin, TX during the late 1800's - the time in which O Henry resided there.
Love a book that is based on historical facts and this one did not disappoint Had to immediately look up some of the facts in this book. Lots of Austin Tx history... love books that make you want to learn more about the subject..
Jul 30, 2008 Annette added it
Shelves: own
I really enjoyed this book probably only because it is a fictional account of murders that occurred in Austin in the 1890s. It was a blast following the book and knowing exactly the places described.
This book is interesting because the story is set in Austin, Texas. It's also about O. Henry. It's set in the 1800s, and includes a murder mystery. All those factors make this an good read.
Mar 28, 2007 stephen rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: people in Austin
not a bad book but not great. i read it b/c it takes place in Austin in the late 1800s and wanted to get a feel for the city at that time. from that angle, it does a very good job.
I really enjoyed this book. I was very good and I think got even greater over the last 100 pages. Saylor made all the supporting characters as interesting as our hero O. Henry.
LOVE this book!!! It's a tad bit slow in the beginning, but picks up quickly and never slows back down! The correlation of the killer/s in Austin and Jack the Ripper...AMAZING!
Nancy Barnard
A historical fiction book about the Servant Girl Annihilator murders in Austin, Texas and the writer O.Henry. Definitely worth reading for my fellow Austinites!
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Steven Saylor is the author of the long running Roma Sub Rosa series featuring Gordianus the Finder, as well as the New York Times bestselling novel, Roma and its follow-up, Empire. He has appeared as an on-air expert on Roman history and life on The History Channel.

Saylor was born in Texas and graduated with high honors from The University of Texas at Austin, where he studied history and classi
More about Steven Saylor...
Roma (Roma, #1) Roman Blood (Roma Sub Rosa, #1) Arms of Nemesis (Roma Sub Rosa, #2) Catilina's Riddle (Roma Sub Rosa, #3) A Murder on the Appian Way (Roma Sub Rosa, #5)

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