The Devil in the White City tells two different stories. One involves the design and building of The Chicago World’s Fair of 1893. The other involves H.H. Holmes, a serial killer who built a hotel near the fairgrounds dubbed The Castle. This was no normal hotel – Holmes designed it with torture chambers and air-tight vaults, all designed to kill young women who were flocking to Chicago for work.
Here’s the book’s official synopsis: Two men, each handsome and unusually adept at his chosen work, embodied an element of the great dynamic that characterized America’s rush toward the twentieth century. The architect was Daniel Hudson Burnham, the fair’s brilliant director of works and the builder of many of the country’s most important structures, including the Flatiron Building in New York and Union Station in Washington, D.C. The murderer was Henry H. Holmes, a young doctor who, in a malign parody of the White City, built his “World’s Fair Hotel” just west of the fairgrounds—a torture palace complete with dissection table, gas chamber, and 3,000-degree crematorium.
Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio were hoping to one day adapt Erik Larson’s fantastic book The Devil in the White City into a feature film.