World’s Greatest Sleuth! by Steve Hockensmith (Minotaur Books 2011).
In 1893, the Amlingmeyer boys venture forth from the west in response to a summons from Otto’s (“Big Red”) publisher— they are to come to Chicago immediately, to the World’s Columbian Exposition, and compete with some of the most famous detectives in the world. Set to coincide with the closing days of the first World’s Fair and the publication of the story revealing the death of Sherlock Holmes, Gustav (“Old Red”) will be competing for the title of World’s Greatest Sleuth! Hating train travel and cities, the real draw is the chance to meet up again with the intriguing and elusive Diana Corvus. But the competition has barely begun before there is a murder in “the White City”—the organizer of the contest is discovered face down in the Mammoth Cheese from Canada—and from there, the game is really afoot.
The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson (Crown 2003).
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. Burnham overcame tremendous obstacles and tragedies as he organized the talents of Frederick Law Olmsted, Charles McKim, Louis Sullivan, and others to transform swampy Jackson Park into the White City, while Holmes used the attraction of the great fair and his own satanic charms to lure scores of young women to their deaths. What makes the story all the more chilling is that Holmes really lived, walking the grounds of that dream city by the lake.