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The Ax Murders of Saxtown: The Unsolved Crime That Terrorized a Town and Shocked the Nation

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3.55  ·  Rating details ·  141 ratings  ·  18 reviews
An entire household massacred. A family feud. A sheriff found dead. Neighbor turned against neighbor. Reports of ghosts, bounty hunters, deathbed confessions, and legacy fortunes. 

In 1874, the Saxtown massacre rocked a nation reeling from economic depression and shattered a small German immigrant farming community in Illinois. The murder of the Stelzriede famil
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Hardcover, 256 pages
Published January 14th 2014 by Lyons Press (first published December 23rd 2013)
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Average rating 3.55  · 
Rating details
 ·  141 ratings  ·  18 reviews


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Heidi The Reader
Oct 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
Imagine you're a farmer in 1874. You live out in the middle of nowhere. There are no cars, electric lights... each night brings a blanket of silence to the world. Then, one fateful night, there's a knock on the door. You answer it... and it's an axe-swinging maniac!

Sound like a cheesy horror film? For one farming family in Southern Illinois, that nightmarish scenario actually happened. A family of five, including two children, one a baby in her mother's arms, were slaughtered in thei
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Kimberly
Jan 15, 2014 rated it it was ok
This book revisits a notorious late 19th-century crime: the unsolved murder of five members of a German immigrant family in southern Illinois, not far from St. Louis. I heard the author on the radio and was intrigued by the story, and while it is an interesting part of local history, I was disappointed with the book. First, it's not until two-thirds of the way through the book that the author reveals that all the official records of the murders were stolen a few years after the murders took plac ...more
El
Feb 13, 2014 rated it really liked it
This review is of a book won from Goodreads First Reads Giveaway program.

We're familiar with Jack the Ripper and the murders in the Whitechapel district in London in 1888. Many of us are also familiar with the Clutter family murders in Kansas in 1959 as immortalized by Truman Capote in In Cold Blood. There are several other murders throughout time in various places - some solved, some remain mysteries - that many of us are familiar with from literature or movies or just legend.

What happened in S
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K.A. Krisko
Jan 02, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: true-crime, history
This book is meticulously researched and detailed. I've tagged it as history as well as true-crime because, in reality, it's more history than anything else. The crimes in question occurred in 1874, and the book focuses as much on exploring the German settlement of Saxtown and its neighboring villages, and how the close immigrant community and their ties to one another affected the investigation, as on the crime itself - though there's plenty of detail on that, as well!

The discovery of the crim
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Lacey
Apr 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing
What an interesting read! A mystery that was left unsolved and keeps you wondering why the people were murdered. Was it really for money? A good read!
Peter Thorpe
Sep 27, 2019 rated it liked it
Easey going read.
Jackie
May 05, 2018 rated it it was ok
E for effort but after his 10 years of research I was not impressed with the author’s book.
Audrey K.
Jan 12, 2014 rated it really liked it
WHEN I BEGAN THIS BOOK ON JUNE 15, 2014: Eighteen years prior to the murder of Lizzie Borden's family in Fall River, Massachusetts in 1892, the Stelzriede family was murdered with an ax in the small German community of Saxtown, Illinois in 1874. Because Saxtown was not far from present-day Columbia, Illinois, and close to St. Louis - my home town - and because I read a favorable review of this book in the local newspaper, and because it was written by St. Louisan Nicholas J. C. Pistor, I decided ...more
Kelso Barnett
Jan 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I've always been a fan of true stories that feature both crime and mystery, and am delighted to have found a new one in, "The Ax Murders of Saxtown." Rather, an old one, as this true story took place 140 years ago. The horrific murders of an immigrant German family made front page news all across the country but have since been forgotten - until now - as Nicholas Pistor has brought this story back to life.

And bring it life he does with an excellent narrative style that keeps you turn
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Janis Gilbert
Sep 13, 2014 rated it it was ok
I wanted to find out who murdered the family and I didn't find out - very disappointing!

An entire household massacred. A family feud. A sheriff found dead. Neighbor turned against neighbor. Reports of ghosts, bounty hunters, deathbed confessions, and legacy fortunes.

In 1874, the Saxtown massacre rocked a nation reeling from economic depression and shattered a small German immigrant farming community in Illinois. The murder of the Stelzriede family led investigators through forests
...more
John Kilgallon
Jan 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Curiosity made me buy this book. I've lived in the area of these murders for the last 15 years and this is the first I've heard of the incident. The author presents a very powerful vision of the life and times near Millstadt in the late 1800s. I was captivated by the narration and research presented in this book and could not put it down. Imagine my surprise to find out my street was named for one of the suspects!

An entertaining book on a real murder that remains unsolved to this day!

Curiosity made me buy this book. I've lived in the area of these murders for the last 15 years and this is the first I've heard of the incident. The author presents a very powerful vision of the life and times near Millstadt in the late 1800s. I was captivated by the narration and research presented in this book and could not put it down. Imagine my surprise to find out my street was named for one of the suspects!

An entertaining book on a real murder that remains unsolved to this day!

The Ax Murders of Saxtown The Unsolved Crime That Terrorized a Town and Shocked the Nation by Nicholas Pistor
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Jo
Apr 28, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Unsolved murder close to home

I had never heard of this case until I accidentally found this book on Amazon. To my surprise, it happened in Illinois, perhaps about 30 miles from my hometown. The author does an excellent job recreating the farming life of German immigrants living in the Milstadt/Saxtown area. The details of the murders and investigation have been meticulously researched, bringing this unsolved crime to life again. A riveting must read.
Kim
Jun 14, 2014 rated it really liked it
I normally do not read a lot of nonfiction. Due to the amount of local history, I found this book very interesting. Never one to enjoy gore, I did find the detailed description of the murders unsettling, but they were important to know in order to understand the rest of the story. Combining many different sources, Pistor did an excellent job of researching. What a excellent example his story is of what can be accomplished with careful research,in-depth study, and thoughtful analysis.
Kelly
Jan 25, 2014 rated it really liked it
ooh wow...... a must read..awesome story line pulls You right in.. detailed characters.. and setting.. really enjoied this book.
Simon
Apr 15, 2014 rated it liked it
3.5 if I had the option
Spooky VonKatz
Apr 30, 2015 rated it it was ok
I have the impression that the author really didn't like the people he was writing about. Also some chronological snobbery going on.
Cori
May 21, 2014 rated it liked it
I had a hard time reading this book. The style it was written really didn't flow. The subject matter was interesting and I wanted to like it but I just did not.
MARGARET COLLINS
rated it it was amazing
Jul 30, 2016
Joane
rated it really liked it
Feb 28, 2018
Erika Kreher
rated it liked it
Jul 20, 2014
Susan  R
Sep 09, 2018 rated it liked it
This book was interesting to me because the house where the murders took place is about 50 miles of where I live and friends of mine live just down the road from it. At various points, it was a little tedious reading, but I enjoyed the book overall.
Melissa Kirchoff
rated it liked it
Dec 21, 2014
Aaron Tidball
rated it it was ok
Jul 31, 2017
Janet Stites
rated it it was amazing
Feb 20, 2014
Patrick McDonald
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Aug 22, 2014
Rebecca
rated it it was ok
Jul 26, 2014
Jackie
rated it it was amazing
Jan 18, 2014
Arielle
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Jan 12, 2014
Jessica Young
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Jan 10, 2019
Lilyloo12
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Jun 30, 2019
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Nicholas J. C. Pistor is a reporter at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and former consultant for CBS’s 48 Hours true-crime series who has broken stories on some of the biggest crimes in the Midwest.

He has appeared on nearly every major television news network, including NBC’s Today Show, CBS, Fox News, MSNBC, and was a guest reporter for CNN’s Nancy Grace.

Pistor began as a stringer for t
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