Saturday, November 12, 2011

A Little Love Affair

I have been having a little love affair this summer. With a guy called Erik Larson.

It started with his book "The Devil in the White City", a thrilling tale of construction, murder and deadlines in almost-turn-of-the-(19th)-century Chicago. Two stories run parallel - one chapter tells of a psychotic con-man who builds a deadly hotel. The following chapter will tell the trials and tribulations of construction of the Chicago World's Fair of 1893. The murder story will creep you out - truly chilling evil, while the story of the building of the fair will entertain and inform you. You'll learn about new products introduced at the fair, some of which we still use today. One of the high-lights of the fair was the first ever Ferris Wheel. I could not put this book down, as they say, and got that sad feeling when you finish a book you've enjoyed.

I immediately bought another of his books "Isaac's Storm". The chronicle of the deadly hurricane which deluged and almost destroyed the town of Galveston, Texas in 1900. Isaac was the local weatherman, he's one story. The other story is the hurricane. When the two stories meet, the trouble starts. In this book, the author builds tension by describing how a storm starts and develops. He then goes on to describe warning signs for this big storm and how they were ignored, with deadly consequences. The descriptions of the storm hitting Galveston are incredible, sad and will keep you turning page after page.

The third of his books I read was "In The Garden of Beasts". This is the story of the American Ambassador to Germany, during the years leading up to WWII. Again, two stories intertwine - sensing a theme yet?. The story of the ambassador and his family and the story of the rise of Hitler's power. Again, an interesting read - we all know the subject matter, but the author shows us a smaller story, within that much bigger part of history.

The last book to be read was "Thunderstruck", finished in a fit of insomnia this morning. It should have been another quick read for me with two interesting subjects: Marconi "inventing" wireless communication, and Dr Crippen's murder of his wife. Marconi's invention helped in the pursuit and capture of Crippen. The book did seem to drag. There was a lot of, too much, discussion of Marconi's experiments - many of which were the same. However, a good bit of the action is set in London, in many streets and places I know - they even dine at a restaurant I've eaten in myself! So it wasn't a total bore. Altogether, I'm glad I read it.

So, I am done with Erik. I know he's working on a new book and wonder what his next 2 subjects will be. I'll be reading them, whatever.

Next up, Suzanne Collins and her Hunger Games.


Ginger said...

The Hunger Games are awesome!!!

Jo said...

Ooh! I've read 'Devil in the White City' - that was pretty cool.