Welcome to Erik Larson’s novel, a work of fiction that is not a work of fiction but is sometimes a work of fiction.

In my mind at the end of 390 pages amid the smoke of history, enlightenment of impossibilities, and clatter of the macabre there lived two stories, both set in Chicago, both set at the same time in history, both sort of involving architecture. However, one embodied an element of enthrallment, a look into the deranged mind of a notorious serial killer who demanded one’s attention. The other was a guy who built a pretty city on a swamp. I mean, it wasn’t easy and most of his story goes into how difficult all the bureaucratic stuff was, and then like all the neat stuff that came from his success even though the city burned down not soon afterward. These two men never met and their stories had little to do with one another; each story is entertaining in its own way. But perhaps, maybe, not equally so.