Clearly this was supposed to be the next Erik Larson book. The development of the city of Austin alongside the story of a serial killer in the days where the term hadn't been invented yet. In this case, the townspeople were loathe to investigate due to the race and status of the victims. Separately this could have been two interesting books, but together it was a long, dragged out "story" where all the players ran together. If it were edited further or separated into two separate books it would have been a better read.