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In 1912 what was arguably the most violent crime, the darkest mystery, in Midwest history took place. Law enforcement officers encountered a scene of unimagined violence: eight victims, six of them children, bludgeoned to death with an ax while they slept. Everywhere there were clues. But inexperienced investigators failed, and private detectives took over. When Detective James Newton Wilkerson charged that a respected state senator had been motivated to the unthinkable by the promiscuity of his daughter-in-law, the community was drawn into a bitter and accelerating struggle between powerful men. And then a deranged and perverted minister confessed. . . .