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    Review of THE WHITE CITY by Alec Michod (see his website)

    St. Martin's Press, January 2004

    The great 1893 World's Fair in Chicago is marred by the kidnappings, murder, and vivisection of several boys and psychologist Elizabeth Handley is sent to Chicago to see whether her profiling can help solve the case. She arrives just as another boy vanishes--this one the son of a wealthy capitalist. But Billy's kidnapping seems different--especially when a underworld leader approaches Billy's father with a deal--give him the contract for a skyscraper if he ever wants to see his son again.

    THE WHITE CITY switches between Handley's investigation, impressionistic views of Chicago at the turn of an earlier century, and Billy's plight in the hands of his kidnapper. Author Alec Michod is at his best as he describes the early Chicago but far weaker when he deals with characters.

    I found THE WHITE CITY to be a bit of a mishmash. None of the characters, not even the annoying Billy, is especially sympathetic. Handley's investigation seems to consist of unmotivated wandering around and discovering of bodies. But Michod doesn't make the criminals any more sympathetic. Their terroristic plan to blow up the electrical building, and Skurlock's desire for Billy seem unmotivated and poorly thought out.

    THE WHITE CITY is Michod's first novel and he's obviously trying hard. But mystery fans will want to hold off until Michod moves beyond mood and city and discovers characters, motivation, and engaging the reader's sympathy.

    One Star

    Reviewed 5/11/04

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