Publication date: January 1, 2003
Pages: 447 pages
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars ☆☆☆☆
Strengths: Incredible research
Weaknesses: Long and very detailed
I was torn whether very detailed was a strength or a weakness, but the discussion with the Yelp book club helped clarify what was in my own head. The author did an amazing job of researching so much going on during the time period when the book took place. But as the ten or so of us talked about it, the story lines were getting a bit tangled, and we realized that there were a few points (I'm looking at you, Prendergrast) when we weren't quite sure why some events or details were included. In fact, someone brought up that the movie rights were already purchased for this, and I really hope the movie is about the World's Fair in Chicago, OR H.H. Holmes's killing spree. They worked all right in a book, with sections sort of alternating between the two stories, but the time and location overlap didn't really make them one story.
I loved the description of H.H. Holmes planning and building his house of horror. I wish there had been more pictures or even a map, but one may not even exist, based on the ending of the structure. Speaking of pictures, there are more pictures of the area and the buildings in the World's Fair online; I would have loved to see those in the book.
Overall, this was admittedly my third time starting to read this book, but I was finally drawn in enough to read for hours straight finishing it for our book club this time. I especially liked the summary toward the end telling how the legacies of some of the characters ended up being people we knew even better (yeah, Disney!). I gave this book 4 out of 5 stars and I'm glad I finally finished it.