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The shocking but true story behind the film and bestselling novel, The Weight of Water
The cold-blooded ax murder of two innocent Norwegian women at their island home off the Maine and New Hampshire coast has gripped the region since 1873, beguiling tourists, inspiring artists, and fueling conspiracy theorists.
The killer, a handsome Prussian fisherman down on his luck, was quickly captured, convicted in a widely publicized trial, and hanged in an unforgettable gallows spectacle. But he never confessed and, while in prison, he gained a circle of admirers whose blind faith in his innocence still casts a shadow of doubt. A fictionalized bestselling novel and a Hollywood film have further clouded the truth.
Finally, a definitive “whydunnit” account of the Smuttynose Island ax murders has arrived. Popular historian J. Dennis Robinson fleshes out the facts surrounding this tragic robbery gone wrong in a captivating true-crime page-turner. He goes beyond the headlines of the burgeoning yellow press to explore the deeper lessons about American crime, justice, economics, and hero worship. Years before the Lizzie Borden ax murder trial and the fictional Sherlock Holmes, Americans met a sociopath named Louis Wagner—and many came to love him.