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.
©1994 Caleb Carr (P)2012 Simon & Schuster Audio
Having read this book when it first was published, I knew I was in for a good story and wasn't disappointed. The characters are just as interesting as the first time around and George Guidall is an excellent narrator, with great distinction of characters' voices. I've enjoyed his performance in several other books. Excellent murder/mayhem psychological thriller!
I found this book really interesting from a historical fiction standpoint - an occasionally over-detailed look at late 19th century New York and the lives and circumstances of the people there. The actual murder mystery was secondary, but OK too (though a little like a fleshed out Criminal Minds), and the narration was great. Still, there was a little too much detail and repetition, stretching things a little longer than it should have been.
I love books!
First time author, Caleb Carr, set in 1896 New York City. The author is a native New Yorker so knew a good bit of NYC history and was able to relate it in an interesting way. The story itself was good as the team works on at the time evolving theories and techniques. Understanding mental illness, serial killers, evidence techniques were all in their infancy at this time but the team used as much of it as they could in trying to track down the killer. This is one of those books that was a bit longer but had great character development and a very involved story, the kind of story you can really dig your teeth into if you like these kinds of books. It was an enjoyable listen. And, you can't beat George Guidall as a narrator.
I've spent my entire life around the written word - writing it, editing it, teaching it. So, it's no wonder I also love to read it!
I really liked the opening of this novel -- the setting, the scenario, the narration were all nicely done and set an appropriately gloomy mood. But, then the story takes one detour after another and I couldn't wait until it was over.
But, getting to the end was the worst part...I hated the way the author completed his story. It was unsatisfying and even somewhat hokey.
This was one of my least favorite books.
My expectations may have been too high going into this novel. It's an entertaining book but I found it overly long, bordering on tedious at times, especially because in essence, it's a pulp novel filled with larger-than-life characters. The Alienist takes a bit too much too much time to get where it's going.That said, the historical setting is interesting and Carr practically makes turn-of-the-century New York into an additional character.
George Guidall's reading is superb, one of the best I've ever heard for an audiobook. He brings the characters to life, raises the tension in scenes where it's appropriate and overall, just does a fantastic job.
A very richly detailed, dark story of turn of the century New York City. I don't quite agree with the narration choice. I think a younger sounding man would have been a better choice but George Guidall does a good job.
I've purchased the second in the series and am currently listening to it.
The plot was unique. The narrator did a fabulous job verbally distinguishing between characters. This story line was complex and well thought out. Great read/ listen!
I almost didn't purchase this title because the sample didn't inspire any great enthusiasm but I'm glad I did. While I wouldn't call this a thriller, it's much too methodical for that, it's a very good procedural mystery set in a time when procedure was anything but standard. Overall, thoroughly enjoyable. 4.5 stars
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