I was impressed with how well everything tied together at the end, and I liked the conclusion. It was interesting to see where all the architects of the Fair ended up after it was torn down. The juxtaposition between how some of them became depressed or riddled with dementia and how some moved on to more successes showed the Fair’s impact. The book started and ended with Burnham on the Olympic, which made the ending more dramatic, especially when the sinking of the Titanic was mentioned. Disturbing details of occurrences after Holmes’s hanging were direct comparisons between Holmes and the devil, which was a main part of the book. It was also important to see how Holmes inspired other serial killers. The very last sentence seemed like it didn’t say anything more about the plot; however, that is what made it the most relevant, especially when read deeper. “On a crystalline fall day you can almost hear the tinkle of fine crystal, the rustle of silk and wool, almost smell the expensive cigars” (Larson 390). Larson brings the readers back to the present, encouraging us to remember the architectural wonders of the time (“fine crystal”), the contrasting aspects of Chicago’s crime and marvels (“silk and wool”), and the extravagant mood of the era (“expensive cigars”).
Najeeha: excellent observation regarding the conclusion of the book. That final sentence also echoes the idea of all mankind's amazing creations--many are just distant memories, destroyed by nature, time, evil. Larsen's book has resurrected those images for those of us who have absolutely no recollection of them. And in doing so, he preserves their beauty and, equally, their atrocity.
I really liked how the book came together at the end. We finally got to find out who the detective was that uncovered the truth about Holmes after having to read numerous lines of foreshadowing in previous sections. It was interesting to see how Holmes’s web of lies and criminal activities ended up ruining him and allowing him to be put on imprisoned. It was suspenseful because the whole time the story was following Geyer’s search I was left wondering if they would find the kids or any evidence to sentence Holmes. Perhaps the part I liked the best from section 4 was when they find Howard’s toy. I had been wondering what significance that toy would have later in the story since the line in the previous section about the fair, where it mentioned Ben Pietzal buying it and it becoming Howard’s favorite. I agree with Najeeha that it was interesting to see how the lives of the architects ended up resulting after the fair was over. Overall I feel like Larson did a great job of building suspense throughout the book, as it led to a very exciting and thrilling ending to a fairly eventful and intriguing book.
I really liked the ending of the book and how Larson concluded the two stories. I'm very impressed on how he took all those little details and made sure they all fit together when the story was done. One example was that he made it clear that there was a women's foot print in the "castle's" basement. He then revisited the evidence when Geyer was investigating Holmes. He must of spent so much time writing this book because he used so much evidence about both events that happened. What I like about that is that he made all that research into something fictional. His use of quotes was the factor that made the book more credible. I thought it was interesting to see the toll of the fair on the main characters. It makes me think about when someone reaches their full potential, is it all down hill from there? I thought it was really creepy how all those mysterious things happened to the people involved with Holmes's demise. I also agree on what Najeeha says about the last sentence. It sorta becomes full circle. He started out talking about Chicago's background in the beginning of the book and he concludes the book the same way as well. I think what stands out is that it has nothing to do with the two stories. Over all I thought the book was a piece of art and it was concluded very beautifully.
I absolutely loved the parallel construction he implemented at the very end of each ending. Both the fair and Homles's killing spree captivated the nation, and both left the reader hanging with a suspenseful feeling of "now what?" when the pages ran out...kinda like what Vanessa said about someone reaching their full potential... Personally, the epilogue kinda ruined the interpretation I had taken regarding the co-existing story lines; both men committing acts that had never been seen anywhere in the states (but had in Europe) and the captivation of the American public. However, and perhaps this was Larson's intent, after the epilogue I started to see a new comparison between using extreme intelligence to build or to destroy. It was very nice that Burnham moved onto bigger things and that Holmes got the justice he deserved, but that conclusion was a bit too cliche for my taste. I enjoyed the image of the devil entering the white city and leaving the black city. I assume there's some symbolism in it that I can't seem to decipher. I felt that Larson was also building parallelism with Geyer and the architects at the fair. Both of them were frustrated with solving this huge problem that no one had ever successfully done before with unbearable pressure and scrutiny from the public. Both Geyer and the architect's efforts yielded greater results than their European counterparts, thus shaking the world to its core. Sorry if this is a bit scattered; I just finished it and I'm coming up with all of these unfinished thoughts...
Generally, I didn't think the ending of the book was written that well. I felt like a lot was missing from Holmes' story. I was waiting the whole novel to learn who were these other people Holmes murdered to bring the total up to 27 (or more) -- Larson only described nine in detail. I don't exactly crave more blood laced drama, but it would've been nice to know where all these other people fit into the picture, even if only a short synopsis was given. Also, I generally didn't like the entire structure of the last part. It focused almost entirely on this tangentially related story of the missing children, only to come back to his murder castle and say "Oh yeah they found out what happened and they saw some bones and a footprint and then it burnt down". When I finished the ending of Holmes' section I felt like a lot of the book was rendered pointless by this -- did I really need to know all the detail about Holmes' castle if it was ultimately treated as an afterthought?While the conclusion on the fair was a little more satisfying, I still didn't think it was too great. I thought Larson did well in providing concluding information on all the characters described in the World's Fair section of the book, but the structure seemed to be lacking. He just made a laundry list of all the characters and what they did. To be honest, the final part of the book read like newspaper obituaries. Perhaps I am being too critical, but I wasn't floored by the final thought of the book either. The whole "past events coming alive in a graveyard" concept seems familiar, bland, and even cliched to me. I felt like I've read it before.
I really liked how Larson ended both stories. I mean he didn't really end them, history did, haha. I like how he went through the whole investigation with Holmes. I just could not believe that the inspector went through all that just because he had know that Holmes had did somthing bad to those children. I feel like back during taht time most invertigators would have eventually given up. I couldn't believe that Holmes would want to be buried like that, like was he really scared that someone would steal his body? I also liked how he told us what happened to all the architects that helped build the worlds fair and where they went when it was all said and done. Burnham made it out really good and I thought that was good. I also liked how they talked about the ferris wheel, like it is just something we see all the time at fairs and he talked about like how much of a big deal it was and how it had gotten sold and everything. I really like how he ended both stories.
I thought that the author did a decent job of ending the book. I personally found the last part the most enjoyable because he concluded the Holmes plot really well. I didn’t enjoy the Burnham plot as much due to the fact that it was overshadowed by the more interesting storyline of a serial killer. I felt that the plots didn’t intertwine very much besides the fact that they were during the same time period and place. However, I still felt that the author ended the book strongly despite these flaws. The ending of the Holmes plot was really interesting and the events of Holmes throughout the novel came together nicely. I felt that the storyline of the detective going back and forth from city to city trying to collect evidence on Holmes was really captivating and was my favorite part of the book. It was ironic that the letters Holmes kept from the children actually helped the detective reveal the truth about Holmes. The freak events that happened with the people related with Holmes was also quite eerie. The book ended suitably with the trial of Holmes and his execution. However, there are still many unsolved mysteries that surround him. For the other half of the plot, I felt that the author chose a safe but effective way of ending the book. He gave information of the characters involved in the book to wrap up any loose ties. It was interesting to see what happened to most of the characters in the book after the fair. Overall, I liked how the book ended and felt that the author did an acceptable job in concluding the two plots despite, them being very different.
I liked your observation regarding the Peitzel children's letters. Yes, it was an ironic twist for Holmes. But it is also satisfying to see justice done, which we don't always get to see in this world. There is a definite sense of security in the vanquishing of evil!
My favorite part of this book was the end. Not just because it was over, but, I really liked how Larson concluded these two distinctive stories. First of all, the focus on all Holmes, all the time, in Part Four of the novel was a nice change of pace from the monotonous fair, stress, Ferris Wheel, more fair, more stress, that dominated Part Three. The way in which Larson arranged the conclusion of the Holmes story was short, sweet, and to the point. Larson explained enough to give the reader a solid description, but didn't drag on and on about insignificant things, like how he did in the World's Fair story. This was an easy section to read just because it was interesting and my attention span didn’t drift off into something totally irrelevant, like how the light bulb is dying in my lamp. I appreciated how Larson wrapped things up with each character not just Burnham and Holmes. He also went on discussing about Ferris and even Buffalo Bill. The ending was simple. I’d say like, 91% less BS than the mid-sections of this book. I also really liked how they found the remains of Pearl Conner. That was morbid. But. I liked it. It kind of gave the reader a reminder like, “Hey don’t forget about all the people he killed at the beginning of this book” and also was thought provoking in that it made you realize he killed a lot of people. Like. A LOT. Like I said before, this ending was short, sweet, and to the point. And that was super duper nice of Larson to do after he meticulously put his readers through the exhausting journey of the World’s Fair.
I agree completely with your favorite part, Luanna. I really enjoyed how after the long endurance of the fair, it's preperation, and demise, we were given a short, but well done, ending. Another part I enjoyed about the ending was how cleanly he ended it, how he FINALLY tied in Good vs Evil and how (although he did it throughout the entire book) one cannot survive without the other.
I honestly can't really decide whether I liked Larsons ending. Like Chris, I found the lack of attention to the murder castle really disappointing. There was so much time spent on its construction and its different features, but then was almost forgotten at the end. I also would have like to hear more about the actual arguments that Holmes used to try and prove his innocence, because even though the evidence against him was overwhelming I would imagine he came up with some ingenious counterpoints. The search for the children was kind of interesting, but as a former avid Criminal Minds watcher I honestly found it a bit boring and repetitive. I knew by that point that Holmes wouldn't let them live and didn't want to know exactly how it happened. I also would have liked more focus on what happened to the remains of the fair. Pages upon pages were dedicated to it's building and rebuilding but hardly even one to what happened to the buildings afterwards. I mean, they didn't just disappear. Also, like Jeffery, I thought the plots didn't really connect besides the intense impact they had on the nation as a whole. Despite all this, I also liked lots of things about the ending. Although I couldn't remember quite all of the little side plots that were wrapped up, it was cool to see how everything connected in the end. I also can't justify any complaints on the major plots seeing as Larson didn't actually write it, it just happened that way. I also liked seeing the contrast of the different levels of success of all the architects and also side characters like Buffalo Bill, who had been on top for so long but ended up with nothing. So, I liked it and I didn't. I can't decide.
I, too, would have liked an afterward that highlighted the evidence of the Fair and Holmes' impact on Chicago today--pictures of remaining architecture, detective agency mandates, etc.
I think that Erik did a good job of ending his novel. He put good detail in and and I could see how things were playing out because his detail was well written. I also like how he had all the details of the investigation of the investigator traveling to all of the hotels that he had visited.
I was satisfied with how well Larson ended The Devil in the White City. For the Burnham story, it wrapped up nicely; the fair was a success, his life went on, and the city burned to ashes. He had his spotlight, and now it was over. Larson went into just enough detail about his life after to provide a sense of closure without wittering on about the details. I especially liked how he included little paragraphs on the lives of some of the smaller, less-important characters, including Sol Bloom and Sullivan. It was entertaining to see how the characters that we had grown to know and feel emotions towards fared after the Fair. It was especially satisfying to see some of the characters I personally disliked lead a life of misery and failure.With the Holmes story, I was also satisfied. In fact, I would say I was very happy about the way it was wrapped up. Holmes was scary and self-serving down to the last moment. His wit and maliciousness lasted until the moment they put the noose around his neck. One of his last acts was to instill fear in the minds of those present, something that I found delightfully sadistic. I think that, were I to be executed, I would like to go out in much the same way: feared and with a bang. I want those present to worry that death won't stop me, and that they might be making a horrible mistake by consigning me to the after-realms. THEN I SHALL RETURN AND REND THE FLE-I mean, you know, if I was going to be executed. Let's hope it doesn't come to that.
Grant, laughing out loud--then getting shivers down my spine! =)
I personally enjoyed the endings to both stories. Burnham's side was an ending of triumph and lifted burdens, while Holmes' ending is one of defeat, justice, and simple closure, what better way to end a story then by killing of the main character? Burnham's story was concluded with the overall success of the World's Fair and cementing his reputation as one of the most accomplished architects the world has ever seen. As for Holmes, I found this ending more interesting, as epic crime drama trumps the shadowing of construction any day. Holmes was at the end of his rope and Detective Geyer continued to piece together his back story as a serial killer. He followed his trail, found his victims, and uncovered a true story of a madman.
Joe--love the "end of his rope" pun! =)
I personally enjoyed both endings and felt as though both endings were very well tied up. For the Burnham plot I very much enjoyed knowing about everyones fates. It was nice to have all of the loose ends tied up, such as who died, who married, and what inspired people. It really made things seem over when you find out the Burnham, the last of the architects, died. On the Holmes plot I loved the detail that went into catching Holmes. It was very interesting to see just how much effort the detective and the police he worked with would go through to prove Holmes guilty. I would have to say my favorite part about the end was how, even when he knew he was going to be hanged, Holmes still was wooing people and trying to get them on his side. He was trying to continue his control over people even after death which was an amazing goal and accomplishment.