Review: H. H. Holmes: The True History of the White City Devil

Review: H. H. Holmes: The True History of the White City Devil

Earlier this year the History Channel featured a much-hyped and rather gruesome series called American Ripper. The series speculated that H. H. Holmes, whom some have dubbed “America’s first serial killer” (which isn’t true, by the way), was also Jack the Ripper. If you’ve watched my blog, you might have seen my candid review of the flawed TV series. After watching the series, I recalled my delight in reading The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson (one of my favorite authors, by the way). Soon I noticed Adam Selzer’s book (Adam was featured as a consultant in American Ripper), and after reading snippets, I decided to purchase it for my Kindle. What a great read! If you’ve read The Devil in the White City, you’ll find this book to be not only supplemental but even more comprehensive in exploring Holmes and his history and character. Selzer often plumbs the depths…

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What Henry James Taught Me about Writing Suspense

What Henry James Taught Me about Writing Suspense

If you’ve read any works by Henry James, American-born British author (1843-1916), great suspense probably isn’t the first thought that leaps to your mind. Consider the all-important first sentence of his famous novella The Turn of the Screw. The story had held us, round the fire, sufficiently breathless, but except the obvious remark that it was gruesome, as, on Christmas Eve in an old house, a strange tale should essentially be, I remember no comment uttered till somebody happened to say that it was the only case he had met in which such a visitation had fallen on a child. That’s sixty-two words in the first sentence alone. By today’s standards, such writing is “wordy” at best and “frankly hard to read” at worst. But writing styles come and go just like the bell-bottoms of the seventies, and during James’s day, this was cutting-edge stuff. Perhaps the economical writing so popular today…

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Book Review: The Giver

I finally found time over vacation to read The Giver by Lois Lowry. She’s also the author of Number the Stars, one of my all-time favorite YA novels. The Giver also won the Newberry Award, and I was eager to read it (certainly no small amount of buzz over it, since the release of the movie, which I haven’t yet seen). But overall I’d have to admit that I wish I’d liked the novel more than I did. It didn’t live up to its hype for me. Though the novel is well written and offers a lot of interesting social commentary in the context of an imagined future world, I struggled to get through it. Jonas’s world is certainly not one where I would like to live, and perhaps that’s one reason why I didn’t enjoy the novel. It certainly isn’t a “happy” story. Here is Publisher’s Weekly summary: In the “ideal”…

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Book Review: Ends of the Earth by Tim Downs

Book Review: Ends of the Earth by Tim Downs

Book Summary Nick Polchak must stop a terrorist from causing a global ecological nightmare. Two beautiful women from Nick’s past are competing for his heart. He’s not sure which impending disaster makes him more nervous. When forensic entomologist Nick Polchak is called to the scene of a murder on a small organic farm in North Carolina he is astonished to find that the victim’s estranged wife is an old friend, a woman he once worked with, a woman he once had feelings for. When she asks Nick to investigate her husband’s drug-related murder, Nick seeks the assistance of Alena Savard, the reclusive dog trainer known to the people of northern Virginia as the Witch of Endor.Alena jumps at the chance to renew her relationship with Nick, but when she arrives in North Carolina she discovers that she’s not the only woman who has her eye on the Bug Man. Soon Nick…

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