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Written by Briana Wilvert
Daniel H. Burnham
One of the protagonists, Daniel Burnham is a highly skilled architect in Chicago. He, with his partner John Root, is given the responsibility of designing and overseeing the construction of the 1893 Chicago World's Fair, the World's Columbian Exposition. Of the two partners, Burnham is the more skilled businessman and acts as the public relations expert for the both of them. Creating an incredible world's fair and improving the reputation of the city of Chicago is a monumental task, one he accomplishes with a remarkably strong sense of determination, and despite his lack of a formal education.
John Root is the partner of Daniel Burnham in the endeavor of designing and constructing the 1893 Chicago World's Fair. Root is the more talented architect of the two and is admired for his intelligence. His characteristics provide a perfect complement to Burnham, as he lacks the business and social skills of his partner. Before construction can begin on the fair, Root contracts an illness and ultimately dies in 1891.
Frederick Law Olmsted
Frederick Law Olmsted is a talented and well-established landscape architect whom Burnham and Root hire to assist them on the creation of the fair. Having previously worked on New York City's Central Park and taking great pride in his profession, Olmsted agrees to help with the driving goal of validating his work. Throughout the book, Olmsted is temperamental and endures periods of both depression and illness while he tackles both the fair and outside work. Despite his struggles, he is an important contributor to the success of the fair.
Herman Webster Mudgett (aka Dr. H.H. Holmes)
H.H. Holmes is the antagonist of the book. Having worked as a pharmacist and doctor, the psychopathic serial killer relocates from New Hampshire to Chicago just prior to the construction of the 1893 Chicago World's Fair. Once in Chicago, Holmes committed various crimes including insurance fraud and theft. As the World's Fair approached, Holmes constructed an enormous hotel dubbed "The Castle." Using deceptive tactics, he designed and built a labrythine structure that only he fully understood, complete with trapdoors, soundproof bedrooms, and gas lines. He used the hotel to murder victims - mostly his female employees - without detection. Money troubles eventually drive him out of Chicago and prompted a series of events which would ultimately lead to his capture.
Frank Geyer is a detective in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania who is assigned Holmes' case when he is brought in for insurance fraud. Geyer is immediately suspicious of Holmes and begins to investigate his past. It is at this point that he becomes convinced that Holmes is guilty of a multitude of crimes, including the murder of three children in his care. Determined to uncover the truth, Geyer goes on a journey across the Midwest, following in the footsteps of Holmes and the missing children until he finds the answers he's been looking for.
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