First Lines Fridays is a weekly feature for book lovers hosted by Wandering Words. What if instead of judging a book by its cover, its author or its prestige, we judged it by its opening lines?
- Pick a book off your shelf (it could be your current read or on your TBR) and open to the first page
- Copy the first few lines, but don’t give anything else about the book away just yet – you need to hook the reader first
- Finally… reveal the book!
The date way April 14, 1912, a sinister day in maritime history, but of course the man in suite 63-65, shelter deck C, did not yet know it. What he did know was that his foot hurt badly, more than he had expected. He was sixty-five years olsdand had become a large man. His hair had turned grey, his mustache nearly white, but his eyes were as blue as ever, bluer at this instant by proximity to the sea. His foot had forced him to delay the voyage, and not it kept him anchored in his suite while the other first-class passengers, his wife among them, did what he would have loved to do, which was to explore the ship’s more exotic precincts.
The man loved the opulence of the ship, just as he loved Pullman Palace cars and the fire fireplaces, but his foot problem tempered his enjoyment. He recognized that the systemic malaise that cause it was a consequence in part of his own refusal over the years to limit his courtship of the finest wines, foods, and cigars. The pain reminded him daily that his time on the planet was nearing its end. Just before the voyage he told a friend, “This prolonging of a man’s life doesn’t interest me when he’s done his work and has done it pretty well.”
This book is amazing. Rarely do I read a book set in modern history that pulls me in so completely and thoroughly. The mystery, violence, and magic is so wonderfully done that you quickly get lost in the world of old Chicago with this this brilliant yet deranged mass murderer. Wonderful book, even if the title is a bit weighty.
Two men, each handsome and unusually adept at his chosen work, embodied an element of the great dynamic that characterized America’s rush toward the twentieth century. The architect was Daniel Hudson Burnham, the fair’s brilliant director of works and the builder of many of the country’s most important structures, including the Flatiron Building in New York and Union Station in Washington, D.C. The murderer was Henry H. Holmes, a young doctor who, in a malign parody of the White City, built his “World’s Fair Hotel” just west of the fairgrounds—a torture palace complete with dissection table, gas chamber, and 3,000-degree crematorium. Burnham overcame tremendous obstacles and tragedies as he organized the talents of Frederick Law Olmsted, Charles McKim, Louis Sullivan, and others to transform swampy Jackson Park into the White City, while Holmes used the attraction of the great fair and his own satanic charms to lure scores of young women to their deaths. What makes the story all the more chilling is that Holmes really lived, walking the grounds of that dream city by the lake.
The Devil in the White City draws the reader into a time of magic and majesty, made all the more appealing by a supporting cast of real-life characters, including Buffalo Bill, Theodore Dreiser, Susan B. Anthony, Thomas Edison, Archduke Francis Ferdinand, and others. In this book the smoke, romance, and mystery of the Gilded Age come alive as never before.