Riveting Aug 16, 2013
by Karen K
I bought this book because of my interest in serial killers, the Victorian era... and genealogy.
H.H. Holmes, whose real name was Herman Webster Mudgett, was a distant cousin to me on quite a few lines, our common ancestors having been the first settlers of Hampton, New Hampshire.
He was a compulsive liar, swindler, bigamist, narcissist, and murderer, and an undoubtedly repulsive specimen of humanity. Because he could never tell the same story twice, it is unlikely how many people he actually murderered. But his hotel, 'the Castle", was evidently his killing grounds-- though no hard evidence can be given for this, other than newspaper articles of the time.
This book is a page-turner, well-written, and I like how the author parallels the excitement of the late Victorian era's technological wonders with the darker, more nefarious realities of rampant crime.
"Holmes" chose his setting-- a big city, where people appear and disappear without anyone giving much notice-- for a purpose.
A must-read for those interested in true crime, serial killers, and 19th century history.