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Monday, July 29, 2013

"Devil in the White City" Book Review

The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed AmericaThe Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America by Erik Larson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

An interesting appeal for the story of the 1893 World's Fair and account of H.H. Holmes, infamous serial killer, however, I wasn't really the fish that took the bait on this one. What I was hoping for was a tale about the construction of a spectacular event, but beyond the awe, glamour and hype of it was a dark and twisted evil underneath. I wanted a story about how a serial killer lured his victims while at the event, and I admit that's sort of what I got, but it was told differently than I wanted it to be.

Instead, I received two tales that hopped to and from each other. First, you have the story of the construction of the World's Fair, with architect Daniel Burnham, who struggles to create a masterpiece that the masses will flock to. If you see pictures from 1893 Chicago, you can tell that he succeeded in creating a glimmering "white city". Secondly, you have the story of H.H. Holmes, a young, handsome, charming physician who also happens to be the ultimate scam artist. He builds hotels, marries many a pretty lady, then also happens to kill them in gruesome ways. Throughout the book each chapter switches back and forth between the two plots, but they never intersect!

What I wish would've happened would be for Holmes to somehow be directly involved in Burnham's creation. Sure, he may have visited the World's Fair, but I wanted something more dramatic. Granted, this was non-fiction, and what the truth reveals may actually creep you out and you may never want to stay in a hotel by yourself again, but if you've read fictitious crime stories or even watched "Dexter", you'll be wanting more.

Let's see what happens when the movie version with Leonardo DiCaprio is released sometime next year. :)

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