Larsen clearly did his homework in researching "The Devil in the White City", and he has provided a painstaking chronicle of the history of the Chicago World's Fair. I enjoyed the contrast of the White City (the Fair) and the Black City (serial murder), and I like the way the city of Chicago came alive as a character in the book. Nevertheless, the detailed back stories of the architects were dry, boring, and far too long. It also seemed as though the tempo of the book was disrupted when the author followed H.H. Holmes after he left Chicago. I was immensely interested in how he was caught, but the Chicago focus was lost.
I've not heard other books narrated by Scott Bricker, and frankly I felt that he did this book a disservice. He used an arrogant, haughty tone - perhaps appropriate for the passages about Holmes, who thought he was smarter than everybody else. But this pompous manner was unwavering throughout the book, so that the architects - the fair's movers and shakers - also came off as pretentious. I can't help but wonder if I would have liked the book better had I read the printed version...
Long winded to the point of distraction. However, some interesting details. Not altogether disappointed but would definetly NOT listen to this again. Two story lines occuring at the same time but little related. Could have made two separate reads. Perhaps the abridged version makes more sense, but I'm not going to relisten! With all the great reviews I was expecting more.
After reading the other reviews, I thought this book would be great. However, it was awful. Scott Brick is one of the best readers there is, but even he can't save this book. It is overly descriptive to the point of boredom, and takes over 3 hours of listening under you figure out what is going on. After 6 hours I quit!!!
On one hand, this book offers an interesting view of Chicago during the turn of the century and gives interesting insights into the issues that shaped modern American architecture. That's the "white city" bit. But the other part of the book -- the "devil" bit -- is poorly written and not nearly as detailed as the architectural history section. On the topic of "America's first urban serial-killer," Larsen offers little in the way of scholarship. He makes a big deal out of insisting that everything in quotation marks is accurate, but makes no such claim for anything else. He also judges the "likelyhood" of certain parts of the story based upon his own judgement of how monstrous serial-killers are in general. He does not create a "portrait of the mind of a killer" but a portait of how we would like to think a demon-posessed killer would think. For a better story about the mind of a murderer, check out _Under the Banner of Heaven_.
The serial killer part of the story never sufficently intersects the White City part of the story to justify the inclusion of the two narratives between the same covers. It feels tacked-on, as though Larson felt a story about the building of the White City alone would not sell.
Brick's reading of the book is excellent, but his talent is wasted on this relatively narrow story; he doesn't get to show off his skill with accents nearly as much here as he does in _the Company_.
Too much filler regarding irrelevant details of the personal lives of the architects and designers surrounding the 1893 Chicago World's Fair in addition to the usual predictable and tiresome politics surrounding the Fair. Some of the fair details were interesting but you had to be able to slog through mountains of useless information to get to the fascinating story of the serial murderer in Chicago at the same time.
I am uncertain whether the author is using the Chicago World's Fair (Columbian Exposition) as a backdrop for murders or whether the fair represents another "character." What might turn you off to this book? Grisly murders, descriptions of plans and parties or a horribly mean person. What I like about this book: the intermingling of history throughout. The fair/expos was a jumping off point for 19/20th century innovation. Well narrated but a little long at times. Would have been interesting to see photos of the event but that's audio for you!
This is an interesting discussion on the Chicago Worlds Fair and the parallel activities of a very bad "mass" murderer. Unfortunately it was not the thriller expected. Even with Scott Brick's narration it fell short of expectations. If you're interested in the history behind the building of the Chicago Worlds Fair complex this is not a bad listen. The "bad guy" is a wimp with no guts. His character and his deeds need more development. To much left to the imagination - it needs more developement on the fear and terror of his victims. He deserves to be hated, make it easier.
Book drags...couldn't keep interested. As a suspense thriller it's lacking, as a historical chronology of the building of the Chicago's World's Fair it provides every boring detail.
If you love architecture or even just Chicago - you will love the history in this book! The serial killer story line running through the Worlds Fair is just as good. I really enjoyed listening to the story!