Reviews for Devil in the White City : Murder, Magic and Madness at the Fair That Changed America
AudioFile Reviews 2003 June/July
A guilty pleasure is this true story of nineteenth-century serial killer Henry Holmes, as it relates (with some stretch of credulity) to the Colombian Exposition of 1893, erected on Chicago's Southside, not far from Holmes's lair. The author, who writes more like a carnival pitchman than an investigative reporter, fills his account with fascinating detail, and even when the detail isn't fascinating, he tries to make it so with florid description. Scott Brick attacks this material with relish, narrating with a sardonic edge and masterful attention to phrasing. Okay, he should have looked up the pronunciation of "phaeton," "calumet," and a few other terms, but if we pretend not to notice, we'll have a lot of perverse fun. Y.R. (c) AudioFile 2003, Portland, Maine
Booklist Monthly Selections - # 2 May 2003
When the grandiose Columbian Exposition opened in Chicago in 1893, a smooth, self-assured psychopath known as H. H. Holmes was quietly killing young women, many of whom were lured to the city by the fair. Brick wisely adheres to the "less-is-more" style in his seductive reading of this nonfiction best-seller that intertwines Chicago history with the murderous escapades of Holmes. Brick lowers his tones slightly during passages about the cunning serial murderer. These descriptions of the creepy Holmes will keep listeners on edge. Despite the mispronunciation of one Chicago suburb, Brick's reading is impeccable. History buffs will especially enjoy the exhaustive details about the planning, design, and construction of the exposition. --Sue-Ellen Beauregard Copyright 2003 Booklist Reviews
Library Journal Reviews 2003 November #1
Fresh from the triumph of Isaac's Storm, which told the story of the deadly 1900 Galveston hurricane, Larson leaps into a dual tale set around the World's Columbian Exposition, semi-officially known as the Chicago World's Fair of 1893. The event was to commemorate the 400th anniversary of Columbus's discovery of America. It did that and also highlighted America's second most populous city, filled with energy, smoke, architectural genius, and animal and sometime human slaughter. Architect Daniel H. Burnham faced a near impossible task: design and construct hundreds of buildings, some monumental in size and grandeur, in the face of an incredibly tight schedule. The author describes the challenges Burnham faced, but his greatest challenge and greatest achievement was the melding of the diverse cast of characters who created the Great White City, so-called because most of the fair's buildings were painted white. Seminal landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted was on hand to complain and create; so were contentious union organizers and agitators, jealous colleagues, builders, and wheeler-dealers. Meanwhile, a few blocks away, Herman Webster Mudgett, a.k.a. Henry H. Holmes, had built a bizarre structure aimed at trapping, exploiting, and killing young women. The story of the psychopath contrasts with Burnham's, though sometimes the analogies seem strained or absent. Reader Scott Brick has a young and mildly expressive voice; what is lacking is dialog-even invented (educated, of course) dialog would have added an element of interest and suspense. Still, the tale is finely crafted and deeply researched. An excellent selection for both American history and true crime collections.-Don Wismer, Cary Memorial Lib., Wayne, ME Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.