Twobusy's Reviews > Thunderstruck

Thunderstruck by Erik Larson
Rate this book
Clear rating

's review
May 22, 12

it was ok
Read on May 22, 2012

Considering how much I'd enjoyed two of Larson's earlier books - Isaac's Storm and the completely wonderful Devil in the White City - it took me a hell of a long time to get around to reading Thunderstruck. Honestly, there was a pretty good layer of dust sitting on the jacket when I finally picked it up and went to work a couple of weeks ago. Why? Because, for no reason I can really explain, I was afraid I'd find it kind of dull.

Unfortunately, it turns out my apprehension was well-justified. I can certainly understand why Larson was attracted to the subject matter: he parallels Marconi's invention of radio with the then-sensational Crippen "Basement Murder" in London, and how the two intersected in the mid-Atlantic, as Crippen attempted to flee to America. Which sounds interesting, right? Wrong. The Marconi storyline is extremely well-researched, and Larson does his best to bring it to life, but ultimately it comes across as something that is clearly far more important than it is actually interesting. Marconi himself: smart, driven, not a nice guy, and not a terribly compelling subject. And Crippen? Who killed his harpy wife and fled the UK with his secretary/lover? Is a cypher... a man universally described (as is clear through Larson's impeccable research) as a small, quiet, listless little creature. And while I spent the entirety of the book hoping for a revelation in which we come to understand how such a non-entity came to commit such a strange and gruesome murder, I came away frustrated -- as no such revelation ever appears. Larson (like the police) knows Crippen did it, but we never really understand how (functionally) or why (in a character-motivation sense).

In the end, I found myself wishing that I'd left the book collecting dust. Very disappointing.

Sign into Goodreads to see if any of your friends have read Thunderstruck.
Sign In »

Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by Karen (new)

Karen That's too bad. I just picked up Devil in the White City; can't wait to dig into it.

Twobusy Devil in the White City is fantastic — don't be dissuaded by this exercise in tedium.

back to top