Study Guide

Emeline Cigrand in The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America

By Erik Larson

Emeline Cigrand

Emeline Cigrand's a beautiful young woman who works as a stenographer in the Dwight, Illinois office of Dr. Keeley (of the famous Keeley cure for alcoholism). Benjamin Pitezel tells Holmes of her beauty, and he writes to her offering her a job as his personal secretary. With a doubled salary, how could she not pass up the offer?

She leaves Keeley’s office and heads to Chicago. Upon arrival, Holmes immediately "deployed his tools of seduction, his soothing voice and touch and frank blue gaze" (2.6.6).

Holmes convinces Emeline that he’s the son of an English lord and promises to take her to his father’s estate once they honeymoon. But that will never happen. Holmes’ isn’t English royalty, and Emeline won’t make it out of his castle. He seals her in the airtight vault.

Years later when police investigate Holmes’ castle, a footprint will be found on the inside of the vault door. It’s widely believe to be that of Emeline Cigrand.