Friday, January 16, 2009

1896 New York

Step into another time- and unforgettable terror.

The Year in 1896, the city is New York; the hunt is on for a baffling new kind of criminal… a serial killer.

Title: The Alienist
Author: Caleb Carr
Series: Kreisler & Moore, Book 1
Start & Finished: 8/19/08- 8/20/08
Published: 1994
Publisher: Bantam Books
Pages: 597
Genre: Mystery/ Thriller

The late 1800s was still a dark time in America, especially in New York City. Immigrants, prostitutes (children included), and the poor could kill one another or be killed and more likely than not, the cops would look the other way. Caleb Carr’s historical thriller The Alienist (which is what psychiatrists were known as back then) takes place in 1896 during the beginning of the reformation and cleaning up of New York. It’s a bestselling, well- researched, sophisticated mystery/ thriller about catching a serial killer using new forensic methods; mainly fingerprinting and a very new concept back then that is known today as profiling.

I honestly doubt that I would have read this book on my own had it not been a reading group read. The only time I’ve read fiction that accurately portrays New York in this time period was thanks to Brenda Joyce’s Deadly series and although that had a mystery in it (and some of the later books even talk about the types of prostitution and gambling places back then), Joyce is at heart a romance writer so it doesn’t have the darker, thriller aspect that Mr. Carr accomplishes with his book. I think another thing that contributed to my enjoying the book so much was that I love the TV show Criminal Minds and this was about the beginning of profiling to catch serial killers.

To enhance the story and make it even more interesting, there are many real life people incorporated into The Alienist too. People good like the major character Theodore Roosevelt (before he became the president), powerful like the gangster Paul Kelly and J. P. Morgan who dominated the corporate world then, and the truly horrible like H.H. Holmes and Jesse Pomeroy to name a few. There are actually tons of other real life people (very few fictional) and places in this story and it’s sometimes a little hard to keep them all straight, but this book was amazing and I can’t wait to read the sequel The Angel of Darkness.

In addition to being a novelist of many other stories- all of them just as well researched as this one, Caleb Carr is also a military historian, which he became interested in when he was younger as a way to put his misanthropic anger to use. Apparently it works well in his novels too because besides being a bestseller, The Alienist was the 1995 winner of the Anthony Award and was also nominated for the prestigious Bram Stoker Award-Novel.

Kreisler & Moore Series: The Alienist and The Angel of Darkness

Links: Author Wikipedia, Book Wikipedia, Alienist Fan Site
Interview: Carr "Talking About a Dark Obsession" (BookPage), Alienated (Salon Books)

Caleb Carr on Charlie Rose (starts at 40 min):

Picture Explanations
Delmonicos: Is a resturaunt established in 1837. The group eats here a lot in the book.
Headquarters: The place where the profilers work
Theodore Roosevelt: an essential character in the story.


  1. I have a copy of this one in my TBR collection. You've reminded me why I want to read it so much. Thanks for your great review, Jen.

  2. My husband is reading this now and he keeps telling me I must read it too so we can talk about it. I didn't know there was a sequel; I'll have to tell him.

  3. I've never heard of this one before but it sounds awesome. I definitely will be checking this one out. Great review!

  4. This sounds like a really good book. I love forensic stuff, as well as stuff set around this period (isn't this Edith Wharton's time frame? I think it is, and I love her books.) I think I need to read it!!

  5. wow, that's quite a chunkster! And it does sound good..*sigh* I need to get reading some of the chunksters I have here before I get mor of them.. I keep pushing them down on the tbr list!

  6. Naida: Thank you!

    Wendy: I'm glad. I can't wait to see what you think about it!

    Beth F: Thanks for your comment! He's right, you should read it! I actually owned a copy at one time and gave it away before I got a chance to read it. Now I really wish I still had it lol. I haven't read the sequel yet but I've heard it's just as good.

    Samantha: Thank you. I think this would make a good movie but even though the movie rights have been bought, it was never made.

    Carolyn Jean: I haven't read anything by Edith Wharton but I think you're right. I love forensic stuff too and it was so interesting to see how it began. I think you might like it!

    DesLily: The time just flew by, I think I sat up all night reading it in one sitting. I actually kind of wish it could have been longer. Carr is just such a good writer, he can suck you into the late 1800's easily but it's not quite so easy to let go lol.

  7. My brother loved this and he's always trying to get me to read it. I would too if it weren't for all the other books I have to read!

  8. Now I'm even more eager to read this!

  9. I have had this book on my TBR pile forever! One of these days...

  10. Lenore: I know how you feel! I just got a new bookcase to house some of these books I have stacked everywhere and so far I've only read about five of the books I have on it lol.

    Memory: I hope you do!

    Kailana: I certainly understand that lol. Hope you get to it soon!

  11. Oh this is one of my all time favourites!

  12. Wow, this sounds awesome! I'm adding it to my paperbackswap list right now.

    I'm jealous you read a 600 page book in a day. Very nice.

  13. Luanne: I had had it for years before I finally got around to reading it, I wish I had read it earlier! It really was a great book!!!

    Paxton: Oh I'm almost positive that you would enjoy it! Oh believe me, I paid for it. I couldn't get back on a normal sleeping schedule for at least a week lol.



Thank you so much for leaving me comments and coming by!

Don't forget to visit my other blog:
Up Close and Personal with LadyTink I'd love to hear your opinion or just "meet" you!

I do leave answers to your comments here.

Search This Blog