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American Gothic by Robert Bloch
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American Gothic (1974)

by Robert Bloch

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1302131,616 (3.36)10
  1. 30
    Depraved: The Definitive True Story of H.H. Holmes, Whose Grotesque Crimes Shattered Turn-of-the-Century Chicago by Harold Schechter (jseger9000)
    jseger9000: Bloch used the true story of H.H. Holmes and his 'castle' as the basis of his thriller.
  2. 10
    The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America by Erik Larson (CarlT)
    CarlT: Though AMERICAN GOTHIC is fiction and THE DEVIL IN THE WHITE CITY is non-fiction, both books are based on the Chicago World's Fair of 1893 (nicknamed "The White City") and the horrific murders committed by serial killer Henry H. Holmes.
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I try to collect Bloch books when I can. If you don't already know, he's best known for writing the bestselling novel, Psycho, later turned into the unforgettable movie by Hitchcock. A lot of his work is very good, as his writing style is simple to read but strangely creative at the same time.

American Gothic is nowhere as fortunate in the talent department as Psycho was, or actually as decent as his other works. Based on the H.H. Holmes murders in the turn of the century Chicago, the novel stays close to the original story source, but never proves terribly interesting. The heroine is a tough but naive and unpredictable character who ends up stumbling along to find the doctor's hideous secrets. She's interesting in a way, but not someone you latch onto too much. Gregg is a ... well, unique villain, but again not overly intriguing.

The main downfall of the story is not that it's not readable - it certainly is - but that the pacing is snail slow and seems to drag on and on. It would have been much better suited as a shorter story, or else where more action (even if invented) took place. His writing style is as enjoyable as ever, and Bloch fans should still read this one if they run into it. Suspense is there in moderate doses, but not with enough frequency to save this book from the to-be-traded pile.

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  ErinPaperbackstash | Jun 14, 2016 |
Bloch uses repetition well when setting up suspense (pg 57). Interesting technique. Also, good use of active words, and word choices that reply on their connotations to charge the prose (pg 73-76). Several style things I like about Bloch writing: Lack of "said," very admirable when a said can be left out. Also, judicious use of "and." You know, sometimes and isn't really needed. Also, use of very descriptive passages to build as well as break tension.

Plot-wise, the ending was lacking. Too much extension of the end scene. Also like Bloch's Ripper book, the attitudes of people, especially women are way too modern. There's a few things that I just didn't buy either. (***More Spoiler than Usual***) Gregg keeping the hearts? Isn't greed a good enough reason for mass murder? Crystal wanting to marry her newspaper editor? Where the hell did that come from? And to resolve that on the last page of the book?
2 vote katen | Jul 12, 2007 |
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» Add other authors (1 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Robert Blochprimary authorall editionscalculated
Bennett, HarryCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Biasi Conte, AnnitaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bordoni, CarloContributorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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This book is for The Girls, Lil, Bee, and Tess, whom I've known and loved longer than anyone else alive.
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The castle stood in shadows.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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The Castle: it looms over the streets of modern Chicago. Its stone walls conceal a maze of secret passageways and hidden rooms, private laboratories and concealed trapdoors. The Castle is home to G. Gordon Gregg, physician-murderer. His victims are young, beautiful women. His methods are swift, scientific and painless, his crime perfect. Until a newspaper reporter becomes suspicious. Investigating Dr Gregg, Crystal finds herself falling in love with the charismatic surgeon, despite the danger. It id that love that seals her doom - for what G. Gordon Gregg loves, he kills...
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