June 28, 2007


It has been some time since I've finished a book. I attribute it to my phase nature. In any case I recently read "Thunderstuck" by Erik Larson. I really enjoyed the last book of his that I read. Overall I liked "The Devil in the White City" better. "Thunderstruck" is an enjoyable read and it does a great job of capturing the race for wireless communication set against the scientific bickering of London and intertwines the mysterious murder committed by Dr. Crippen. What it didn't do is draw me into both stories.

It might be my scientific nature but the Marconi story line had a richer feel to it and I felt fully engrossed in the drive to communicate without wires. The story of Crippen, while told well, didn't have the depth that the killer did in White City. The additional background on Crippen helped flesh out the character but it felt more like back filling the story from the incredible chase across the Atlantic which tied the two stories together.

The descriptions of London around the 1900s are neat, but feel more like digressions then central to the story. Likewise the author even asks "to forgive my passion for digression." [ix]. I believe that such comments can add flavor and context to the main story, but in this case the digressions feel like they are the story and the main characters the digression. Overall it is a fun and quick read, but for reasons very different then the last book of his I read.

Tags: books london science