The Alienist by Caleb Carr

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The year is 1896, the place, New York City. On a cold March night New York Times reporter John Schuyler Moore is summoned to the East River by his friend and former Harvard classmate Dr. Laszlo Kreizler, a psychologist, or "alienist." On the unfinished Williamsburg Bridge, they view the horribly mutilated body of an adolescent boy, a prostitute from one of Manhattan's infamous brothels.

        The newly appointed police commissioner, Theodore Roosevelt, in a highly unorthodox move, enlists the two men in the murder investigation, counting on the reserved Kreizler's intellect and Moore's knowledge of New York's vast criminal underworld. They are joined by Sara Howard, a brave and determined woman who works as a secretary in the police department. Laboring in secret (for alienists, and the emerging discipline of psychology, are viewed by the public with skepticism at best), the unlikely team embarks on what is a revolutionary effort in criminology-- amassing a psychological profile of the man they're looking for based on the details of his crimes. Their dangerous quest takes them into the tortured past and twisted mind of a murderer who has killed before. and will kill again before the hunt is over.

        Fast-paced and gripping, infused with a historian's exactitude, The Alienist conjures up the Gilded Age and its untarnished underside: verminous tenements and opulent mansions, corrupt cops and flamboyant gangsters, shining opera houses and seamy gin mills. Here is a New York during an age when questioning society's belief that all killers are born, not made, could have unexpected and mortal consequences.

From the Paperback edition.

About Caleb Carr

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Caleb Carr is a contributing editor of "MHQ: The Quarterly Journal of Military History "and the series editor of the Modern Library War Series. His military and political writings have appeared in numerous magazines and periodicals, among them "The World Policy Journal", "The New York Times", and "Time" magazine. He lives in upstate New York.
Published October 24, 2006 by Random House. 608 pages
Genres: History, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Literature & Fiction, Horror, Action & Adventure, War. Fiction
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Despite Moore's skepticism about Roosevelt's plan to put Kreizler on the case (``You'd be better off hiring an African witch doctor,'' he says about his old friend), Kreizler steadily compiles a profile of the killer based on a combination of forensic and psychological evidence.

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The New York Times

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Told by a turn-of-the-century New York Times reporter, John Schuyler Moore, the novel deals with the gruesome murders of a number of boy prostitutes in Manhattan in 1896.

Apr 03 1994 | Read Full Review of The Alienist

Los Angeles Times

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Caleb Carr is, among other things, a historian and biographer capable of writing a monograph that reads like an adventure story.

Jun 08 1994 | Read Full Review of The Alienist

Entertainment Weekly

Appealing to his Harvard classmate Roosevelt for help, Kreizler assembles an offbeat team: two brilliant Jewish detectives, brothers, shunned by the nightstick-happy Irish cops of the era, a pistol-packing feminist named Sara Howard, and John Schuyler Moore, a risk-taking police beat reporter...

Apr 22 1994 | Read Full Review of The Alienist

The Independent

In a bold break with procedure, New York police commissioner Theodore Roosevelt - for it is he - enlists the aid of his old friend and former sparring partner Lazlo Kreizler.

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For example, since a lot of these murders take place near a body of water (on a bridge, or by a reservoir), Kreizler hypothesizes that the killer might have grown up in a religious household, since the murder near the water might signify a sort of emotional baptism.

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Michael Manley 19 Aug 2013

Rated the book as 4 out of 5


Erin 5 Sep 2013

Added the book to want to read list