Monday, January 14, 2013

Devil in the White City, by Erik Larson

By some miracle, Chicago has been chosen as the site for the 1893 World's Fair.  There is much work to be done, in very little time.  In the midst of the creation of the site for the fair, H.H. Holmes finds his prey.  Whether he is scamming people and businesses for money and goods, creating a murder hotel, or plotting the demise of yet another innocent, it can be guaranteed that Holmes is leaving a stain on the White City.

I really really wanted to love this book.  And I was pretty certain I would.  I am familiar with the case of H.H. Holmes, and find it fascinating.  And I love examining stories within their historical context.  And yet, I could not quite get into this book.  The book alternated between chapters regarding the fair preparation and chapters regarding Holmes' nefarious deeds.  I found the chapters about the fair and all the politics surrounding it to be incredibly boring, and I was really disappointed by it.  It was well researched and well written, just, for me, not at all interesting.

The chapters about Holmes were much more engaging.  Again, the research and writing were solid.  I am not sure why I preferred those chapters so much more, other than the fact that it was a topic with which I was already familiar, and in which I had a long standing interest.  I was not aware, prior to reading it, that the book was comprised of what in all actuality is two different stories that were only slightly related, so I think, in general, the book was simply not what I expected it to be.  Had I gone into it with different expectations, I may have enjoyed it more.

The book will most likely appeal to fans of history, criminology, and creative nonfiction.  I have heard wonderful things about this author, so I am definitely willing to give him another shot.

This book is from my personal library.  All opinions are honest and original.

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