“‘I was born with the devil in me,’ (Holmes) wrote. ‘I could not help the fact that I was a murderer, no more than the poet can help the inspiration to sing.'” Erik Larson, THE DEVIL IN THE WHITE CITY.
Haunting. Fascinating. Terrifying. All of the above, but is it true? As an author of crime fiction and a book that features a serial killer, it’s an essential question to character and plot. Certainly, shows like Mindhunter tell us that the study of serial killers is far from an exact science. What we do know, however, is that serial killers are a breed like no other and while there is much that makes them similar, there is an equal amount that makes them different. And still we wonder, is this particular brand of evil born or is it bred?
THE DEVIL IN THE WHITE CITY is an amazing book about the serial murders terrifying the city of Chicago just as it’s preparing to take center stage with the 1893 World’s Fair. This fascinating story reads like a novel and Erik Larson establishes himself as one of the Kings of Nonfiction.
Full confession: Many years ago, I read this book because my daughter was reading it for school and I had decided to read the same books she was reading (if I hadn’t already read them). So, it was a welcome surprise to love it as much as I did. I was captivated by the two worlds Mr. Larson built – the first around one of the architects of the World’s Fair and the other around the serial killer, Dr. H.H. Holmes. It is a truly fascinating snapshot of time in our country and I find myself wondering–more than a century later–is the world really so different now?
Here’s a bonus quote I find amusing (hope you do, too):
“Great murderers, like great men in other walks of activity, have blue eyes.” Erik Larson, THE DEVIL IN THE WHITE CITY
P.S. As an FYI, Leonardo di Caprio bought the rights to this book years ago. Word is that he and Martin Scorcese are in the process of turning it into a series for Hulu. If it happens, I’ll be watching! Which character will Leo play?
P.S.S. If if does happen, I’m predicting awards nominations for this one – it’s just too good a story!