Monday, December 31, 2012

The Alienist (Caleb Carr)

As a huge fan of historical fiction, especially that which takes place in the late 1800s/early 1900s, it's hard to believe it's taken me this long to discover Caleb Carr.  He was recommended to me by my friends at Goodreads, and I am so glad that he was!  While The Alienist is not a quick read and took me a long while to get through, it is well worth it for those who love this time period.

John Moore, the narrator and a police reporter with The New York Times, is asked by his psychologist friend, Dr. Laszlo Kreizler, to join in on an investigation.  A mass murderer is on the loose in New York City, one who focuses on wayward children.  Back then, psychology was just coming into the mainstream and much frowned upon, with those who practiced it sometimes called "alienists".  With the assistance of NYC police commissioner, Theodore Roosevelt, Kreizler puts together a very hush-hush group to investigate the killings and try to get into the murderer's brain before he strikes again.

While some reviews have said The Alienist is too wordy with too much dialogue, I found these chapters fascinating.  As the group talks through each aspect of the case, hoping it'll provide clues, the reader is witnessing the very beginning of this science becoming known to the public.  There were a few points where I wish Carr would have sped up the action, but in the end, it all makes for a very satisfying completion to one big puzzle.  So I may be a little late (19 years to be exact), but I look forward to reading the sequel, The Angel of Darkness.