A little more than I year ago I finally read the Erik Larson blockbuster thriller, The Devil in the White City. I thoroughly enjoyed that book for a number of reasons: the book was factual, with hundreds of sources cited; it was set in nineteenth century America, a time and place with which I am repeatedly fascinated; it chronicled the 1893 Columbian Exposition that arguably brought Chicago back from the fire; and it illuminated– in great detail– the actions of one of America’s very first known serial killers.

Larson’s follow-up book, Thunderstruck, returns to this formula of marrying two seemingly incongruous true stories: the scientific work of Guglielmo Marconi, inventor of wireless communication and the “North London Cellar Murder,” a bizarre and detailed murder that captured popular imagination even fifteen years after the events themselves. Larson delves into the development of technology from wireless, to steamships to the emergence of forensic science to capture the events of a time and place not so far removed from our own as to be unrecognizable.

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