Book Review

By , August 3, 2014 12:16 pm

Product Details


Thunderstruck, by Erik Larson, is another in his historical murder series. Having previously read The Devil in the White City I knew to expect two intertwining stories set in a beautifully described city; this one involves Marconi and his development of wireless telegraphy plus American doctor Hawley Harvey Crippen who gruesomely murders his annoying wife. The city is London in the Edwardian period. Certainly this book is not as exciting or gripping asĀ The Devil in the White City but it does have the same easy to read yet not trite writing style. I enjoyed the descriptions of London’s neighbourhoods so much that I have determined to go there next summer. The two plots come together when the wireless telegraph is used to capture Crippen and his disguised lover on their way to Canada aboard a a Canadian Pacific steamer.

One of the difficult aspects of this book is the character of Marconi. He is awful: socially obtuse, ego-maniacal. Yet he is not the murderer in the book. Larson makes no bones about Marconi’s dislikeable character. Perhaps he is so accurate in his description that he leaves the reader disinterested and morally disgusted. I couldn’t wait for the Marconi chapters to be over. I knew that mild-mannered Dr. Crippen was going to turn out to be a murderer yet I enjoyed the descriptions of him so much more. Seemingly patient in putting up with his demanding wife, Dr. Crippen turned out to be driven to the wall, poisoning and dismembering his wife. His turned out to be one of the most famous murder cases in British history. I knew nothing of it.

Oddly, it turns out that Marconi’s chief rival, Tesla, who does not figure in this book, was severely lacking in social skills as well. He ended up befriending pigeons. Marconi did marry, twice.

I will read another Erik Larson book. The man is a sincerely talented writer.



Leave a Reply

Panorama Theme by Themocracy