Friday, June 15, 2012

The Devil in the White City

Author: Erik Larson
Goodreads Rating: 3.92 Stars
My Rating: 2.5 Stars
Pages: 447
Reviewed by: Nicole 

I was drawn to this book because of the serial killer aspect, and I have to admit that I thought that the book was going to be mostly about the killer, Holmes, and his actions and victims. I was seriously mistaken though since the book talks all about the fair and the building the fair, and the events and people surrounding it. 

Goodreads Synopses:

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.

My review after the jump.

I was really disappointed when I got into this book because I didn't really care about the world fair. It was cool to learn some of the background, but in all honesty, I didn't have any interest in the architecture terms and the world of the fair. I did find a lot of it interesting as far as those who went to the fair and how the Ferris Wheel premiered at the fair and that it was rejected three times before that. 

I have to say though, that as much as I didn't like the content, this book was well written dropping the right amount of clues and foreshadowing in all the right places. For me, the writing was what made this book tolerable. What made the book fun for me was reading about the intricacies of H.H.Holmes, our serial killer.

It wasn't graphic, but it was brutal finding out the ways that his victims died, and what was the worst was that they don't think they will ever know how many victims he had. He had a whole bunch of victims whose families never got closure on what happened to their daughters and sons. I think the worst part about this was that unlike other serial killers who had a drive to kill people, because they reminded them of someone or whatever, Holmes did this just because he wanted to and because he could get away with it. He had something like three wives, and two children (it would have been more had he not killed the babymamma while she was pregnant, and then kill her daughter). 

The fact that someone so charming could do this is scary, and for the record, makes me happy to just hid behind my computer and not talk to anyone because for all I know, they could like killing kittens. Holmes was the real reason I was drawn to this book, and it really did nothing for me. What I also found weird was how other little stories that kinda tied in were added. Such as the story of Pendergast a deranged man who killed the mayor of Chicago. What was also confusing was that he would change what he called people through the book, the entire time I read this book I thought Buffalo Bill and a Cody were two different people.

All in all, this book just wasn't my cup of tea. I wasn't that interested in the subject area, but I had to finish it to find out what in the world happened with H.H.Holmes. I'm really glad that I got this from the library instead of buying it.

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