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Thunderstruck | [Erik Larson]

Thunderstruck

In Thunderstruck, Erik Larson tells the interwoven stories of two men: Hawley Crippen, a very unlikely murderer, and Guglielmo Marconi, the obsessive creator of a seemingly supernatural means of communication. Their lives intersect during one of the greatest criminal chases of all time.
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Publisher's Summary

In Thunderstruck, Erik Larson tells the interwoven stories of two men: Hawley Crippen, a very unlikely murderer, and Guglielmo Marconi, the obsessive creator of a seemingly supernatural means of communication. Their lives intersect during one of the greatest criminal chases of all time.

Set in Edwardian London and on the stormy coasts of Cornwall, Cape Cod, and Nova Scotia, Thunderstruck evokes the dynamism of those years when great shipping companies competed to build the biggest, fastest ocean liners; scientific advances dazzled the public with visions of a world transformed; and the rich outdid one another with ostentatious displays of wealth. Against this background, Marconi races against incredible odds and relentless skepticism to perfect his invention: the wireless, a prime catalyst for the emergence of the world we know today. Meanwhile, Crippen, "the kindest of men", nearly commits the perfect crime.

With his superb narrative skills, Erik Larson guides these parallel narratives toward a relentlessly suspenseful meeting on the waters of the North Atlantic. Along the way, he tells of a sad and tragic love affair that was described on the front pages of newspapers around the world, a chief inspector who found himself strangely sympathetic to the killer and his lover, and a driven and compelling inventor who transformed the way we communicate.

Thunderstruck presents a vibrant portrait of an era of séances, science, and fog, inhabited by inventors, magicians, and Scotland Yard detectives, all presided over by the amiable and fun-loving Edward VII as the world slid inevitably toward the first great war of the 20th century.

Gripping from the start, and rich with fascinating detail about the time, the people, and the new inventions that connect and divide us, Thunderstruck is splendid narrative history from a master of the form.

©2006 Erik Larson; (P)2006 Random House, Inc.

What the Critics Say

"Larson has a knack for creating genuine suspense in his writing, and his latest is thoroughly enthralling." (Booklist)
"Splendid, beautifully written....Thunderstruck triumphantly resurrects the spirit of another age." (Publishers Weekly)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.8 (701 )
5 star
 (173)
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1 star
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4.0 (347 )
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4.1 (341 )
5 star
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3 star
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2 star
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1 star
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Performance
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  •  
    Stasie Brenham, TX, United States 03-20-15
    Stasie Brenham, TX, United States 03-20-15 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Not my favorite Larson novel"

    I've always enjoyed Erik Larsons novels but this one was a little slow and dragged out. It almost gave too much detail bordering on boring at times.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Golden Sunrise Mansfield Center, CT, United States 03-18-15
    Golden Sunrise Mansfield Center, CT, United States 03-18-15 Member Since 2014

    twin mom

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    "Bob Balaban broke my heart"

    I am usually a fan of Balaban's acting and am always a fan of Erik Larson. This book was an exciting find for me.

    However, Balaban's reading of this tedious rendition of curiously disparate facts was punishing. He sounded like he was reading the phone book against his will.

    I forced myself to stick it out several hours hoping he (and I) would warm up. Neither of us did.

    Save your credits. SKIP THIS BOOK.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Liz 03-04-15
    Liz 03-04-15 Member Since 2011
    ratings
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    22
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    "Not Larson's best - by far"

    I loved In the Garden of Beasts and Devil in the White City, but this one's more of a dud. Harder to stay interested. Sadly, a bit of a bore, which is too bad. I am glad I learned more about the birth of wireless though.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Peter J. Ludrick 02-25-15 Member Since 2013
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    Story
    "Hello Mr & Mrs America and all the Ships at sea"

    Great novel by an extraordinary author. Its fast pace and details sends the reader on a journey that weaves historical events into a wonderfully taunt novel!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Azrielle usa 01-13-15
    Azrielle usa 01-13-15
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    3
    3
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    "Almost as good as "Devil""

    Fans of "Devil in the White City" will recognize the formula. Way too much information on Short wave radio. You almost sympathize with Dr. Crippen when he finally commits his famous murder.
    Very well written, fabulous use of language. All read. No skipping or noise in the recording.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Murphy USA 11-29-14
    Murphy USA 11-29-14 Listener Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Marconi: Jerk of the Century"
    Would you try another book from Erik Larson and/or Bob Balaban?

    Yes, I have read Larson's books before and they are good. This one was NOT one of his best.


    Would you recommend Thunderstruck to your friends? Why or why not?

    I am not sure. The story about Marconi is kind of mind numbing and he apparently was a real piece of crap elitist so it's hard to get into his character or what he did (though granted, what he did was help usher in the modern era). The Crippen story is told in such a lackluster way that it's not very interesting. So I do not really think I would.


    What three words best describe Bob Balaban’s performance?

    Straight forward.


    Did Thunderstruck inspire you to do anything?

    No, just pay better attention to Larson's books.


    Any additional comments?

    If you are not into science and find some characters are just so very hard to like (Marconi for instance) then you might not like this. The crime seems to take a backseat to the murder and the chase.

    Unless I missed it, the book did not say that they have determined the remains in the Crippen basement were that of a male and records in America seem to indicate his wife left him and perhaps dictated a letter to have sent to him telling him that she was sorry but she was not coming forward.

    England hung and innocent man but honestly back then, it would be hard to think he was anything but guilty.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amy Frazier 09-15-14
    Amy Frazier 09-15-14

    I love to read, but these days I have less time so I do Whisper Sync with my Kindle and both read and listen to the same books. Love!

    ratings
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    15
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    "Good book. Well written, but less is more."
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Yes, if you like science and like murder mysteries. It got a little long in the parts about the telegraphy and I think there could have been less detail with the same results.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Thunderstruck?

    The disappearance of Belle and the investigation of her disappearance.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    The scenes on the ship at the end of the novel, when they are catching up with the Doctor.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    No. It took a while to get through. You really have to pay attention. The detail on the telegraphy and that history could have been shorter. It tended to get long and boring, especially at the beginning.


    Any additional comments?

    The Devil in the White City is my favorite Erik Larson book, and this one was good, but not as good.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    lisa katy, United States Minor Outlying Islands 04-21-14
    lisa katy, United States Minor Outlying Islands 04-21-14 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Don' t B other"
    What did you like about this audiobook?

    The History details.


    How has the book increased your interest in the subject matter?

    Zero


    Does the author present information in a way that is interesting and insightful, and if so, how does he achieve this?

    No


    What did you find wrong about the narrator's performance?

    Dull, monotone


    Do you have any additional comments?

    I like detailed history. But I kept waiting for the grand murder story. Didn't happen. Not worth listening too, i would not recommend.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Meggin Reno, NV, United States 01-13-14
    Meggin Reno, NV, United States 01-13-14 Member Since 2015

    Speaker, Coach, Author - in Reno, NV (A GREAT place!) I've been an avid Audible fan for several years. Listen on my iPhone many hours each week.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Started slowly but keep listening"

    Since Devil in the White City is what I'm measuring his books against, that is a TOUGH act to follow. However, I learned a great deal from this book and enjoyed it and am looking tonight for another one of Erik Larson's books. I'm convinced that I like him and the way he creates a story!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mary Tampa, FL, United States 05-30-13
    Mary Tampa, FL, United States 05-30-13 Member Since 2011
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    "Informative & Entertaining"

    I always enjoy Erik Larson's way of blending historical facts and events with the seedy, sometimes gory details of true crime. While the subject matter is not as sinister as Devil in the White City, the book does not disappoint. Exploring Marconi's invention of the radio, something which we take for granted in today's world as practically passe, Larson weaves in a tale of murder which would seemingly have nothing to do with it. And yet, as ever, it all comes together in the end. A very good listen to anyone who enjoys true crime, biographies, or both.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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