The Devil in the White City By Erik Larson Summary and Analysis Part II: Chapter 16 - The Angel from Dwight

Summary

Holmes sends Benjamin Pietzel, his friend, carpenter, and sidekick, to a treatment facility in a nearby town to cure Pietzel's alcoholism, something that Holmes tells Pietzel is interfering with Pietzel's work. More than likely, Holmes has ulterior motives, as he later opens up his own treatment facility in his building. At the treatment center, Pietzel meets the beautiful blond Miss Emeline Cigrand, an employee of the facility. Upon hearing Pietzel speak of Emeline's beauty after his return from the facility, Holmes immediately writes to Cigrand, offering her a job for double the money. She accepts, moves to Chicago, and rents a room in a nearby building.

Holmes and Cigrand quickly become involved. Cigrand appears enamored and in love with Holmes while ignoring warning signs, including a visit and cautioning advice from Ned Conner. Shortly after a few of her cousins visit, Holmes asks Cigrand to marry him.

Analysis

This chapter moves the plot along with introduction of a new character, and most likely Holmes's next victim: Emeline Cigrand. Larson characterizes Cigrand's charm, innocence, and kindness in a way that makes her immediately likeable.

As in previous chapters, a future victim ignores signs that something isn't quite right with Holmes, which helps build tension and suspense. In conversation with Cigrand when he comes looking for Holmes, Ned Conner suggests Cigrand go away as quickly as possible. Cigrand's cousin also senses something questionable in Holmes and his building construction when the cousin visits Emeline.

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