Last month I ended up reading two books that were set around Chicago in the 1890s. I really liked both so I thought I’d do one post sharing a bit about them. Purchase links are affiliate links, just FYI.
The City Beautiful by Aden Polydoros
Alter Rosen came to America for the chance at a better life. However, his father died on their journey across the ocean and Alter is now working to save up money to get his mother and two sisters to America. In the beginning of the book, Alter’s best friend, Yakov, is murdered…and he’s not the first Jewish boy to go missing. Alter is determined to figure out who hurt Yakov and to avenge all those other boys who have been hurt, and nobody in authority cared.
Alter is possessed with Yakov’s dybbuk, which helps him to solve the mystery, but it also is slowly taking over Alter’s very self. He can’t stay possessed for too much longer, no matter how much he wants to help his friend. I loved the Jewish rep in this book. There is a glossary in the back to help with words and phrases, which was great. I also really liked the Queer rep, especially for the time period.
This was an intriguing read for sure. There was a moment I felt the book had kind of ended/wrapped up, and then it kept going. The rest was needed, but I do wish it didn’t feel like two endings in one book. I’d definitely recommend though, and I’m excited to see what Polydoros writes next.
The Perfect Place to Die by Bryce Moore
Zuretta’s sister takes off for Chicago, and while she starts off writing every week, the letters eventually stop and Zuretta knows that something is wrong. She gets money to travel to Chicago and finds a sympathetic maid who helps her begin digging into her sister’s disappearance.
This book takes place during the same time period of The City Beautiful – both books talk about The White City aka The World’s Fair. However, The Perfect Place to Die is based around H.H. Holmes who created his own ‘murder castle’ to kill people coming into Chicago for The World’s Fair. Holmes was a real person, and in the book, he’s a character that Zuretta gets close to when looking for her sister.
I really like the real, true-crime aspect of this book – even though the book is fictional. I thought Moore did a good job mixing fact and fiction. I really loved Zuretta and her determination to find the truth. She obviously cared a great deal for her sister and she wasn’t going away without answers. I’d recommend to those who enjoy true crime and murder mysteries!