Sunday, January 23, 2011

THE DEVIL IN THE WHITE CITY by Erik Larson (✰✰✰✰✰)

This is not at all my usual type of book. It is very rare that I read a mystery, let alone a crime novel, and I do not think I have ever read a true crime book. They tend to really creep me out; I literally get nightmares. My husband likes those types of TV shows, but has graciously developed the habit of pausing his DVR if I walk into the room. I made an exception for this book because several people thought I would enjoy it, and they assured me that it was not at all gory. As you see from my rating, I loved it! Larson takes two true stories, one about the 1893 World's Fair in Chicago, and one about a serial killer in Chicago who preyed upon fairgoers. There is no mystery here; the reader is aware from the outset who the killer is. The divergence of the two tales was worked perfectly. I knew absolutely nothing about world fairs, let alone the Chicago fair, prior to reading this; it truly is an amazing feat how they pulled it off. Some of my favorite parts of the book were about Frederick Law Olmsted, the famous landscape architect who designed New York's Central Park, who was in charge of designing the grounds of the fair. The 1893 World's Fair was also challenged by the fact that there was a world wide depression in progress at the time, forcing the planners to find extra enticements to get paying guests into the park. Buffalo Bill Cody played a part as well and was one of the few to become very wealthy as a result. The first Ferris Wheel was built for the Chicago fair, and its history is a fascinating sub-plot within the book. The audio came highly recommended to me, and I whole-heartedly pass along the recommendation. Whether you love general history, world fairs, or true crime, this is one not to be missed.

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