The Devil In The White City

There’s something very important about Erik Larson’s The Devil In The White City in that he gives a very palatable history of an important event: Chicago’s World’s Fair at the end of the 19th Century.  However, as a story, I found it lacking in a crucial component: suspense.  This wouldn’t bother me if Larson weren’t trying so hard to create suspense at the end of every chapter.  Larson, in a seeming attempt to engage the reader and relate the import of his book, gives away the conclusion of his story in the first few pages, telling his audience that H.H. Holmes is a murderer.  In successive chapters, he points out suspicious character traits of Holmes, alluding to his evilness.  Yet, we already know he’s a murderer so we already know he is evil.  Larson’s attempts at creating mystery grated on me.  What we’re seeing here is a pitfall of narrative non-fiction, and it’s a shame that Larson fell so far down it.

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~ by jaredran on February 14, 2008.

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