Combining fact with fiction in an engaging historical context, Grace Hitchcock kicks off the True Colors trilogy in style with “The White City”. Scads of books and documentaries exist about Henry Howard Holmes, the man given the notorious distinction of being America’s first serial killer, yet in this novel Hitchcock presents a new, albeit fictional, perspective on his case. Introducing Winnifred Wylde, a young woman who loves nothing more than reading the latest romantic adventure novel by her favorite author, Hitchcock takes the reader along on a thrilling quest of discovery. The action begins when Winnifred believes that she witnesses a kidnapping while at the Chicago World’s Fair, an incident that eventually leads her to the employ of H.H. Holmes as she seeks to pursue her suspicions. However, as the investigation proceeds, both her wellbeing and her heart are in danger.
“The White City” proficiently blends genres to create an absorbing narrative. Each chapter opens with an epigraph from classic literature, hinting at its contents, and all of the characters were 3-dimensional and had emotional depth. Their reactions to events and the lingering effects of trauma made them seem true to life. From Aunt Lillian’s matchmaking to Percy Covington’s romantic idealism to Auntie Ann’s outwardly gruff demeanor, each contributed to the flow of the story. Hitchcock captures H.H. Holmes’ charisma as well as sparks of the violence lurking beneath his façade. Along with catching glimpses of the World’s Fair, recognizing the societal and familial expectations of both women and men during the late nineteenth century further set the scene and linked the historical with the fictional side of the tale. As somewhat of a true crime aficionada, this series held special appeal for me as soon as I heard about it, and I am happy to report that the first book exceeded my expectations for a fictional take on the case. What truly made it a five-star read was its Christian foundation and the way that the main characters relied on the Lord throughout their trials and testing.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from Barbour Publishing and CelebrateLit and was under no obligation to post a review.