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doctorcath

Bookivorous

I read books, I write about books, I would probably marry a book if I could find one who liked me enough. Three words to describe me mature, irresponsible, contradictory, unreliable...oh...that's four...

The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic & Madness and the Fair that Changed America (Illinois)

The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America - Tony Goldwyn, Erik Larson Effective unfussy account of the creation of Chicago's 1893 World Fair, known as The White City, given additional tension by connecting this account with the activities of the serial killer H H Holmes, who ran a hotel catering for the many guests visiting the spectacle.Larson weaves together the two stories well, knowing just how to pique the interest by creating mini-dramas in both elements. It requires skill to combine these thematically unrelated elements - the fact that Holmes killed his victims while the fair was in operation was completely coincidental - and Larson does a fine job. He points out a little spikily in the notes that he did not use the internet for his research, preferring to view the original material. This inevitably limited what he could use in the book, which might explain the longish excursions into the contribution of relatively minor characters such as the landscape designer Frederic Law Olmstead. I can't help feeling that Olmstead's inclusion is due to the fact his original notes and letters are still available, not because his perspective was particularly valuable.