Devil in the White City
(Book 1 for RIP X)
Devil in the White City by Erik Larson.
Paperback: 447 pages
Publisher: Vintage (February 10, 2004)
Author Erik Larson imbues the incredible events surrounding the 1893 Chicago World's Fair with such drama that readers may find themselves checking the book's categorization to be sure that The Devil in the White City is not, in fact, a highly imaginative novel. Larson tells the stories of two men: Daniel H. Burnham, the architect responsible for the fair's construction, and H.H. Holmes, a serial killer masquerading as a charming doctor. Burnham's challenge was immense. In a short period of time, he was forced to overcome the death of his partner and numerous other obstacles to construct the famous "White City" around which the fair was built. His efforts to complete the project, and the fair's incredible success, are skillfully related along with entertaining appearances by such notables as Buffalo Bill Cody, Susan B. Anthony, and Thomas Edison. The activities of the sinister Dr. Holmes, who is believed to be responsible for scores of murders around the time of the fair, are equally remarkable. He devised and erected the World's Fair Hotel, complete with crematorium and gas chamber, near the fairgrounds and used the event as well as his own charismatic personality to lure victims. Combining the stories of an architect and a killer in one book, mostly in alternating chapters, seems like an odd choice but it works. The magical appeal and horrifying dark side of 19th-century Chicago are both revealed through Larson's skillful writing
My first book for RIP.. I have read In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler's Berlin by Erik Larson and liked it so I thought I'd give this a try. (also heard it's being made into a movie).
I have to say most of the book was about the building of the Cleveland Words Fair, and less about the serial murderer that seemed to attach himself to being by the Fair to draw in more victims. So for me the building of the Fair was slow and not very exciting to me. Historically, which I generally like reading about, I learned a few things (not much). And through a lot of the book they barely mention the murderer Dr. Holmes. He was finally given a whole chapter at one point to peek your interest but it wasn't until near the end that you finally really learn about him.
So for me this was a slow reader.