Rummanah Aasi
  I first heard of the author Erik Larson when I read his phenomenal, page-turning, best selling book called The Devil in the White City. I loved his style of writing a history book with a dash of a true crime story. I couldn't stop reading it and came away with not only being informed about Chicago's World Fair, but also an obscure serial killer that committed crimes right under people's noses. In its essence, a novel-like nonfiction book that would not stay on the shelves at the high school and my local public libraries. Since I had a great time reading his previous book, I was looking forward to the same great read with Larson's other book called Thunderstruck.

Description:  Thunderstruck follows the same structural formula of The Devil in the White City by pairing a historical, progressive development which in this case the invention of the wireless telegraph with a notorious, famous murder case of Dr. H.H. Crippen.

Review: When I read this book, there were thunderstorms in the forecast and I had watched an episode of BBC's Coupling (think a British version of Friends, which is hiliarious by the way) where one of the main character, Steve, is trying to break up with his current girlfriend, Jane, who doesn't seem to get the hint that their relationship is over. Steve repeatedly tells Jane that he doesn't want to be the next Dr. Crippen. Is it a coincidence that these two things when I picked up Thunderstruck? I don't really know. I just happend to find the book at my public library and thought, "Oh, yeah, I wanted to read this book for a while. I think I'll check it out".

  Like Devil, Thunderstruck is very well written and full of historical facts. In fact, I had absolutely no idea of the wireless telegraph. I had thought the telegraph to do the same thing and was obviously mistaken. There are two plot threads, which read more like two biographies of Marconi, the inventor, and Crippen, the murderer. Both are woven seamlessly, but I couldn't help but wonder why these two stories were chosen until I was well in 3/4 of the book. Initally, I thought the invention was kind of boring and tedious. I wanted to know more of the murder case, but felt like that was more of an afterthought since its chapters were much shorter than the invention story. The book didn't take off for me until the crime was committed and the investigation began.

  I was appalled to know that I kind of felt sorry for Crippen. His wife was horrible and abusive, but I couldn't help but wonder why he resorted to murder instead of divorcing her? Perhaps divorce was a taboo at the time. There are some unclear facts as to how Crippen murdered his wife and there have been many theories as Larson tells the reader. Overall, I thought Thunderstruck was a decent read, but I did put it down several times while I read it.

Rating: 3.5 stars

Words of caution: The body of the dead Mrs. Crippen is graphic. Larson goes into detail of how it was discovered and the body's condition. For this reason, I would recommend this book to adults but I think high school students will also be interested.

If you like this book, try: The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson or In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
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