Study Guide

Icilius "Ned" Conner in The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America

By Erik Larson

Icilius "Ned" Conner

Ned moves into Holmes' hotel with his wife Julia and their eight-year-old daughter Pearl in 1891. He works as a jeweler in Holmes' drugstore and initially admires Holmes as a "perfect example of what everyone called the Chicago Spirit" (1.9.2).

But he soon comes to dislike Holmes for how flirtatious Holmes is with his wife, and later with his eighteen-year-old sister, Gertrude. We can't say we blame him.

Women drawn to the drugstore come to flirt with Holmes, and they seem to ignore Ned. To make him feel better, Holmes offers to sell the entire pharmacy to Ned. Ned thinks he's getting a generous offer, but it's really Holmes who profits from the deal. Creditors frequent the pharmacy and Ned learns that Holmes has not paid it off.

Holmes, you slimy snake.

Ned is pretty fed up at this point and tells Holmes he can keep the pharmacy because he's leaving. Julia and Pearl stay with Holmes. He'll later go back to the drugstore and offer a warning to Emeline Cigrand. But his warnings will go unheeded.