In Devil in the White City, Larson captures the spirit of a fascinating period of American history: the turn of the century. Larson's backdrop is Chicago in 1893 during the World's Fair. The book tells two stories - both the planning and construction of the fair, and America's first serial killer, H.H. Holmes, who operated during it. Although at first these stories seem completely separate from one another, Larson's excellent writing twines them together, immersing the reader, and giving them a picture of what it was like to be alive at that time. In comparing the monumental effort of building the White City (what the fairgrounds came to be known as), with the bottomless evil of Holmes' crimes, Larson is able to show both the highs and the lows of human ability. An essential read for fans of nonfiction, but it will also appeal to those who like crime thrillers and historical fiction.
Recommended by Tony Pellicone