The Devil in White City

image After reading Bloodstains, many reviewers on Amazon suggested this was the next "definitive guide" to Holmes and his notorious crimes during the Columbian Exposition or Chicago World’s Fair as it was known. This book was to give a chronology of events and reveal details of Holmes and his activities.

It didn’t.

After reading Devil in White City, I once again felt duped. I trudged through 400+ pages of mind numbing details about the men tasked with the fair, their delays, the in fighting, the poor sales, the bad weather, union strikes, the lack of respect for landscaping, the toothaches, the headaches, the trash, the noise, the pigs and even the items listed on the dinner menu, waiting for the details about Holmes. Out of the 400 pages, only 40-50 revolve around Holmes and they were nothing but vague summaries that you could read about in Wikipedia. For someone who can just about document the number of bolts used in the Ferris Wheel, the details about Holmes’ Castle, life and crimes are shockingly hollow. In fact, Holmes is nothing more than a cameo appearance in this book and in my opinion is used as a lure to sell this book.

Every day I wondered why I kept reading. I thought perhaps the book would transition to an account of Holmes once the fair was up and running.

It didn’t.

There is absolutely nothing interesting or new to be learned about Holmes. The Strange Case of H. H. Holmes will give infinitely more detail than this long-winded tome. Even as an account of the fair itself it falls short. Erik Larson bogs down with excruciating details that simply don’t matter. Far too much time and too many pages are dedicated to meeting, dinners, train rides and trips abroad. This book should be condensed to 100 pages and it would be quite enjoyable.

Unfortunately, this is a bloated and boring read that left me frustrating for having wasted so much time when I learned so little. If you’re interested in reading about H.H. Holmes, aka Herman Webster Mudgett, look elsewhere. Again, you can read more in less time through Wikipedia.

The Devil in the White City: A Saga of Magic and Murder at the Fair that Changed America

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