Book Review: The Alienist by Caleb Carr

Author: Caleb Carr
Title: The Alienist
Publication Info: Prince Frederick, MD : Recorded Books, p2002, c1994.
ISBN: 1402589026


In 1896 in New York City a serial killer is murdering and mutilating the bodies of boy prostitutes.  Police commissioner Theodore Roosevelt attempting to reform a corrupt police department indifferent to these crimes calls in two friends to help solve the murders: psychologist (aka “alienist” in contemporary parlance) Laszlo Kreizler and underachieving crime reporter John Schuyler Moore who also narrates the book.  Joining the team is the first woman to work for the NYPD and twin detectives.  Together they put together a psychological profile of the killer and use other modern methods to track him down.  The denouement of the book is hokey but everything leading up to it is entertaining and historically-detailed so it is worth reading.

Recommended books: The Night Inspector by Frederick Busch, The Dante Club by Matthew Pearl, Time and Again by Jack Finney, and The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America by Erik Larson
Rating: *** 1/2

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