book angel makers

It is a story that reads like one of today’s popular fiction crime novels — a 1920s village midwife known as “Auntie Suzy” had a knack for murder. And many of the women in her village were quick to adopt her murderous methods. Soon they were spooning doses of arsenic into the soup bowls, wine glasses and coffee cups of anyone who crossed them. And their dark secret remained undetected for more than 15 years. In her book The Angel Makers: Arsenic, A Midwife, and Modern History’s Most Astonishing Murder Ring, award-winning journalist Patti McCracken has pieced together the lives of Auntie Suzy, her wide network of killers, the unsuspecting victims, and the villagers who witnessed it all. She joins Watching America host Dr. Alan Campbell on this week's episode.

wa patti mccracken
Photo: Maria Thibodeau

McCracken, a Virginia Beach native, began her career at a newsmagazine in Washington, D‭.‬C‭. , where she worked for a decade before moving to Chicago, where she was an assistant editor at the Chicago Tribune‭.‬‬‬‬‬ She eventually relocated to Europe to work as a journalism trainer, free press advocate, and newsroom consultant for the then-emerging democracies of the former Soviet bloc‭ and post-war Bosnia. ‬She was based in an Austrian village near the Slovak border, but her work often included long stints in Eastern and Central Europe, the Balkans, the Caucasus, and later North Africa and Southeast Asia‭.‬‬

‬She was twice a Knight International Press Fellow‭. ‬Over 20+ years, her articles have appeared in Chicago Tribune, San Francisco Chronicle, Wall Street Journal, Guardian, Smithsonian Magazine, and many more outlets‭.

Find McCracken and get a behind-the-scenes look at the writing of her book at

Listen to the interview.