The Devil in the White City

The Devil in the White City
Author: Erik Larson

True story behind the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair with the focus on two very different men during that time. One is the architect Daniel H. Burnham who designed and supervised the construction of the World’s Fair. The other is H.H. Holmes, the first U.S. serial killer who posed as a doctor and murdered mostly young women in his World’s Fair Hotel.

It took me quite a while to read this book. It was a fairly quick read, but didn’t give me the sense of urgency to not want to put it down. It was well written in the way I felt like I was reading fiction and then I would remind myself that I was reading a true story. It helped explain why there were gaps in some of the serial killer story. It didn’t go into gruesome details since they really couldn’t get inside the killer’s head. He lied until the day he died.

At the beginning of the story, I was always sad when the focused switched from the serial killer to the fair since the beginning of the planning for the World’s Fair was sometimes boring. The writing was as exciting as possible when describing the organization and designing that goes into a World Fair. It could have been a lot worse. Hopefully, that isn’t faint praise. Then more than half way through the story, the Fair became more interesting. It was cool to read about the Fair opening, people attending, and all the new things that people saw. The serial killer story became more erratic. The narrative didn’t flow as well as it did in the beginning, but that could have been due to the lack of information of what actually happened.

Then when the Fair came to a close, it seemed like a natural end to that part of the story. The serial killer part seemed to wrap up a little too suddenly after moving at a certain pace the rest of the story.

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