Justin's Reviews > The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America

The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson
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's review
Jan 23, 2008

really liked it
bookshelves: 10-best-books-read-in-2008
Recommended for: history buffs, true crime fans, those who live in or visit Chicago
Read in July, 2008

This was a fascinating and well-written true retelling of the events surrounding the 1893 World Fair in Chicago. It interwines the story of the fair's driving force, Daniel Burnham, with that of serial killer H.H. Holmes. Strangely enough for me, I found Burnham's trials and successes as the lead architect of the fair and its White City to be just as entertaining, if not more so, then the depraved murders of Holmes. The reader feels truly transported to turn-of-the-century Chicago and makes the book feel more as a fictional novel than historical non-fiction.

The one complaint I have with his writing is the over-dependence on foreshadowing sentences to end sections. Just to take two randomly selected examples, just seven pages apart, sections end with these lines: "Later, these musings about fire would come to seem like prophecy" and "Later, much would be made of this precaution." While these do peak interest, the frequency of use began to feel like a cheap trick. That being said, it is a very minor complaint and didn't detract from my enjoyment of this very good book.

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