Thursday, October 6, 2011

American Gothic by Robert Bloch

Serial killer G. Gordon Gregg has set up shop in Chicago at the turn of the century World's Fair. He seems untouchable as he murders women for their money and kills anyone who could possibly reveal his secret. But then he crosses paths with a journalist who sees through his facade and won't let up. Crystal risks death in her quest to find out Gregg's murderous secrets and she may not be able to unravel them in time to save her life.

Genre: thriller, historical

Rating: 4/5

Throwback rating: 5/5

This is a fictional retelling of the H.H. Holmes murder castle cases, something that was handled so masterfully in Devil in the White City, anything else is going to pale in comparison. Throwback wise, the book doesn't have a problem because it was already set at the turn of the century. There's probably not going to be too much problem with throwback historical novels because of that unless old fashioned attitudes start showing up. This one doesn't suffer from that too much though. Crystal does have to be saved, but she's very proactive in bringing Gregg down and is quite liberated. And if she has to be saved, so does her boss.

The main problem is that the characters are very one dimensional and there seemed like a lot of build up for a climax that didn't cover very much. Part of Devil in the White City's appeal is the relentless grind that builds until both the fair and the serial killings reach their zenith. This book isn't long enough or detailed enough to do so. It's because it's a fiction of something that actually happened, and what actually happened was so much more horrific, the fiction can't compare.

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