The interwoven stories of two men whose lives intersect during one of the greatest criminal chases of all timeHawley Crippen, a very unlikely murderer, and Guglielmo Marconi, the obsessive creator of a seemingly supernatural means of communicationA true story of love, murder, and the end of the world’s “great hush” In Thunderstruck, Erik Larson tells the interwoven stories of two men—Hawley Crippen, a very unlikely murderer, and Guglielmo Marconi, the obsessive creator of a seemingly supernatural means of communication—whose lives intersect during one of the greatest criminal chases of all time Set in Edwardian London and on the stormy coasts of Cornwall, Cape Cod, and Nova Scotia, Thunderstruck evokes the dynamism of those years when great shipping companies competed to build the biggest, fastest ocean liners, scientific advances dazzled the public with visions of a world transformed, and the rich outdid one another with ostentatious displays of wealth Against this background, Marconi races against incredible odds and relentless skepticism to perfect his invention: the wireless, a prime catalyst for the emergence of the world we know today Meanwhile, Crippen, “the kindest of men,” nearly commits the perfect crime With his superb narrative skills, Erik Larson guides these parallel narratives toward a relentlessly suspenseful meeting on the waters of the North Atlantic Along the way, he tells of a sad and tragic love affair that was described on the front pages of newspapers around the world, a chief inspector who found himself strangely sympathetic to the killer and his lover, and a driven and compelling inventor who transformed the way we communicate Thunderstruck presents a vibrant portrait of an era of séances, science, and fog, inhabited by inventors, magicians, and Scotland Yard detectives, all presided over by the amiable and funloving Edward VII as the world slid inevitably toward the first great war of the twentieth century Gripping from the first page, and rich with fascinating detail about the time, the people, and the new inventions that connect and divide us, Thunderstruck is splendid narrative history from a master of the form This is a book about the invention of wireless telegraphy As if he knew this wasn’t the sexiest of topics, author Erik Larson includes a murder mystery alongside it, creating a fun little twoforthepriceofone nonfiction treat He lures you in with relationship drama and then works in the science So sneaky! And once the two distinct stories come together, so delicious.I can see how some readers would be less than enthused about thetechnical details of Marconi’s science experiments, but I live with an engineer, so I have developed a pretty high tolerance for tech speak I actually find it relaxing to let unfamiliar phrases and concepts drift pastit’s not like I’m expected to chime in with meaningful feedback or opinions I just nod encouragingly from time to time and let it all wash over me So yeah, the experience of listening to this audio book was, for me, both familiar and comfortable.And the story of the demure, unassuming patent medicine salesman Crippen and his voluptuous, volatile wife is a fascinating one,than enough to keep the engine humming I didn’t entirely buy into Larson’s incredulity that a man perceived as so gentle could be capable of murder I must be a cynicof course the quiet, retiring guy was eventually going to snap! Still, the chase towards the end of the book is surprisingly suspenseful, considering by today’s standards it unfolded at a snail’s pace Larson is a great storyteller and is particularly good at sniffing out historical events that would make for accessible, addictive reading This is the third book of his I’ve read, and I’ve enjoyed them all I especially recommend The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed Americaso good!More book recommendations by me at www.readingwithhippos.com Erik Larson image from his site First off, while this is an interesting and engaging story, it is not the topnotch book that Devil in the White City was Here, Larson tells parallel tales of Guglielmo Marconi, inventor of the wireless, and Hawley Crippen, a relative nobody who gained infamy by doing away with his wife Where they intersect is when the newfangled wireless machine is used to track the fleeing killer and his mistress as they cross the Atlantic in a passenger liner Larson is excellent at imparting a sense of a time, 1910 in London, and various locations in Europe and North America He offers much information about Marconi as a person, a scientist, a suitor, husband and father, and a businessman While Marconi’s name may stand out to us today through the foggy details of history, there were several other individuals whose scientific investigations were also critical to the development of wireless communication The politics, and the legal and business scheming that went into the wireless, make for a fun read But, while Crippen and his pursuit by Scotland Yard may have represented the 1910 predecessor to helicopters trailing the white Bronco, Crippen seems such a minor presence as to stand out purely as literary device by which Larson can tell us about the time Don’t get me wrong I enjoyed the book Larson is a gifted writer and he clearly takes delight in presenting us with a smorgasbord of details of the day You will learn things you did not know before There is considerable visual imagery that makes one yearn for a skilled film director to be on call It is only when comparing it to Devil in the White City that it…um… pales.=============================EXTRA STUFFLinks to the author’s personal, Twitter and FB pagesOther Erik Larson books I have read 2015 Dead Wake 2011 In the Garden of Beasts 2003 The Devil in the White City 2000 Isaac’s Storm not reviewed “At that moment the world changed…”Erik Larson has a winning formula that he deploys well in his books He takes on a historical event(s), links them with other things happening in the same period, sometimes thru a specific study of a person, and while combining those elements he explores the age in which the events he focuses on happened It works “Thunderstruck” is no exception, although I think it works slightly less successfully than in his other books.The events that Larson connects in “Thunderstruck” are Marconi’s invention and development of the wireless telegraph, and a murder that enthralled London (and through the tool of Marconi’s wireless, the world) in the early 20th century Although the connection is a bit tenuous at times, this text gives a nice insight into both events and into the Edwardian period/culture in general.The last 100 pages or so are gripping reading Larson has not disappointed me yet, and “Thunderstruck” is a unique take on some interesting events that shaped the 20th century. I enjoyed parts of Thunderstruck and really had to force myself through others The chapters about Marconi were often boring and too technical for my nonscientific mind Larson sort of expects his reader to already understand certain elements of how radio waves works, which I don't However, when Larson wasn't droning on about building towers and antennae, Marconi's story still captured my attention (I'm surescientific minded people would enjoy the aspects that I didn't.) In the end, I ended up quite disliking Marconi I find it interesting when we have images of historical figures in our heads, and then we find that the image and the reality don't match up I have a tendency to forget the humanity of such people Marconi, as is sometimes the case, has the brilliant mind, but lacks the social astuteness necessary for having a happy and truly successful life, no matter what invention/discovery he has made for society: He took credit for many things which others had truly done and delved himself completely in his work without regard for his family or others around him.As far as Crippen, El, and Le Neve are concerned, the half of the book dedicated to their story fascinated me Larson weaves in little tidbits of life at the turn of the century, creating a close to complete vision of the time When I got to the parts about the discovery of the murder, I did skim some pages, I will admit I couldn't fathom, as those who knew him, how Crippen could have committed such a crime because he was so mild and kind The last 80 or so pages were absolutely the bestthe chase I have to say that my very favorite person in the novel was Captain Kendall Unfortunately, he is not in the story as much as I would like, but he is the smartest and most daring person we meet I loved (loved isn't a strong enough word; I finished the book one night and woke up talking about this part the next morning) that the whole world knew what was happening except for the unsuspecting Crippen and Le Neve Mostly because the story is true, this is the most magnificent irony any story could produce I laugh a little at the perfectness of it all.