Review: Thunderstruck

Erik Larson (2006)

I wanted to like this book more than I did. Larson is a good writer and a whiz at making history feel tangible and contemporary. He’s also a master storyteller, weaving suspense to create books that are genuine page-turners. Larson’s style is to ping-pong between two different but connected stories, a technique he used effectively in his best-selling Devil in the White City. In this case, Larsen’s subjects are Guglielmo Marconi (inventor of the wireless) and Hawley Crippen, the second most-infamous murderer in Britain’s history. How their personal histories intersect is one of those historical happenstances that make truth stranger than fiction.

Personally, I didn’t find the turbulent trial and error of the arrogant Marconi’s revolutionary invention all that fascinating and I couldn’t help feeling Larson’s book was padded by about 100 pages or so. That didn’t stop me from ripping through the book, eager to get to the end, even if the ending was somewhat anti-climactic given recent forensic evidence that sheds doubt on the outcome of the Crippen case.

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