Saturday, December 09, 2006


It's barely peeked above freezing the last couple days, and while I know most of my regular readers are in places far colder than this, it's still pretty damn cold. Wake me up in March.

#41 -- "The Devil in the White City" by Erik Larson

This is the first in a brief series of "best-sellers of recent years that friends lent to Greg." Not the snappiest title for a series. I've got "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil" and "Primary Colors" lined up -- anyone want to lend me "The Da Vinci Code"?

In the late '90s and early nothings, I spent a lot of time in Chicago, making a few trips a year. I wish this book had been out then, when I was about as familiar with that city's layout as I was with Boulder's. I recognize a lot of the place names, but the details have been replaced by hockey stats or Czech pronunciation in the intervening years.

This is the tale of the 1893 Chicago World's Fair, told through two parallel stories -- that of Daniel Burnham, the fair's chief architect, and H.H. Holmes, a serial killer. It's good potboiling stuff. Larson does a good job of creating suspense in things not normally suspenseful -- will the architects meet their deadlines, f'rinstance. The hunt for Holmes's victims after he's already in the slammer is also quite well-done.

Nice, quick, and an evocative piece of American history. Since #40, I've had a hard time concentrating on any book for more than a chapter -- hopefully finishing this one will get me back on the stick.

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