Book Review: The Devil in the White City

Book club met on Tuesday night–another rainy one!  Almost all of us were there—and what a great discussion about this month’s book!  If your club is seeking a bump in enthusiasm, I’d suggest this one in a minute.

The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson was published in 2003 and nominated for the National Book Club Award.

The author took an interesting tack of describing for us the building from the bottom up
of the World’s Fair in Chicago in 1893.  There were budget constraints, time constraints, and  groundbreaking (no pun intended) issues of having architects creating outdoor landscapes!  What might become a laundry list of events is turned on its ear when the author introduces another facet of Chicago at that very time.

H.H. Holmes was a real person, a serial killer who lured young women into his web.  During the days (and nights!) of the Fair, young women left their farm lives and came to Chicago to get jobs and be part of the whole swirl of activity.  H.H. Holmes was ready and waiting for them.   He built a large building to house apartments, a ground floor pharmacy where he could flaunt his “medical” background, and the building included a crematorium in the basement.  Yikes!

So, back and forth–you read the wonderful stuff about the Fair–the White City, and then the next chapter throws you into bloodcurdling descriptions of the unwary young girls meeting H.H. Holmes in the “Black City”.

Plenty, plenty to talk about for your book group—enjoy!

P.S. February book club selection is Crow Lake by Mary Lawson.

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