Thunderstruck, Erik Larson (2007)

26 Dec

Erik Larson knows he’s got a formula that works, and he employs it with success time and time again.  Like The Devil in the White City, in Thunderstruck, Larson juxtaposes important historical events with a grisly story of murder.

I would have liked Thunderstruck a lot more, if I hadn’t read The Devil in the White City less than a month ago.  The tone and pacing of both books is identical.  All you do is swap out the historical facts, and you’ve got essentially the same book.  Don’t get me wrong, Thunderstruck is well written and engaging…I just don’t recommend reading the books back to back, as it becomes tiresome.

Thunderstruck tracks Gugliemo Marconi’s development of radio transmission technology alongside the story of Hawley Harvey Crippen, a meek, mousy doctor with a detestable fame-seeking wife.  It’s no secret Crippen is involved in murder (it says so on the book jacket), but the book hardly gets around to the murder part until the very very end.  With the buildup in the description, I expected more gore.  It wasn’t scary, and I’m obviously watching too much American Horror Story, because I didn’t even think it was that gruesome.

The last part of the book is pretty exciting.  Scotland Yard begins investigating him, he tries to flee, and an exciting cat-and-mouse game ensues involving Marconi’s radio technology.  It’s an interesting connection, even though I didn’t find the Marconi storyline very interesting.

This book isn’t a bad use of your time if you have some time to kill in an airport, but if you have something else to read that you’re really excited about, I’d read whatever that is first.


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