Book Reviews of The Alienist

The Alienist
The Alienist
Author: Caleb Carr
ISBN-13: 9780553572995
ISBN-10: 0553572997
Publication Date: 7/1/1995
Pages: 608
Rating:
  • Currently 4/5 Stars.
 534

4 stars, based on 534 ratings
Publisher: Bantam
Book Type: Mass Market Paperback
Reviews: Amazon | Write a Review

133 Book Reviews submitted by our Members...sorted by voted most helpful

reviewed The Alienist on + 3 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 16
honestly, one of the best books i've read in a long time. there are times where there is a lot of techincal medical jargon, but you make your way through it just to see what will happen next. many a night has been spent with a room full of friends trying to figure out who would play what character if they ever decided to make it into a movie. if you are interested in forensic pathology, this is definitely a book for you. you should also invest in angel of darkness as well. it's a continuation of the same characters in a different case, but just as engaging as the alienist.
reviewed The Alienist on + 85 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 15
In the spring of 1896 the New York City police department is faced with a dilemma. Someone is mutilating and murdering young male prostitutes. Commissioner Theodore Roosevelt brings together Dr Laszlo Kreizler, a controversial profiler (aka alienist), John Moore, the police beat reporter for the Times, and an assorted cast of trustworthy detectives and friends to take the case. Can this team of unexpected investigators find the murderer before he strikes again??

Overall, I enjoyed Carr's vivid description of turn of the century NYC and his ability to write in response to the time period's needs. I don't think he missed a single detail. The ending was slightly anti-climactic though I would not hesitate to recommend the book to anyone interested in this type of novel.

The Angel of Darkness is more adventures of this funny, endearing group of characters. Sorry, had to get that recommentdation in too!
reviewed The Alienist on + 6 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 10
I love historical fiction and felt that Caleb Carr did a great job of transporting me to 19th century New York City, particularly the idea that this type of psychological analysis of a killer was breakthrough detective work of the period. Suspenseful read and many interesting and sympathetic characters.
reviewed The Alienist on + 534 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 9
I read The Alienist with my face-to-face bookclub this month and was immediately excited for a couple of reasons. First, we needed a change, having focused on "issue" books primarily, and second, I love serial killer mysteries. There's nothing like a great thriller to keep you company on a rainy afternoon. And this was no exception.
It's Spring, 1896, and the New York City police department is faced with a dilemma. Someone is murdering and mutilating young male prostitutes. Commissioner Theodore Roosevelt brings together Dr. Laszlo Kreizler, a controversial profiler (aka alienist), John Moore, the police beat reporter for the Times, and an assorted cast of trustworthy detectives and friends to take the case. Can this team of unexpected investigators find the murderer before he strikes again?? Guess you'll have to buy the book to find out...

Overall, I enjoyed Carr's vivid description of turn of the century NYC and his ability to write in response to the time period's needs. I don't think he missed a single detail. The ending was slightly anti-climactic though I would not hesitate to recommend the book to anyone interested in this type of novel. I'm on my way to find The Angel of Darkness for more adventures with this funny, endearing group of characters.
AMAZON.COM READER'S REVIEW
reviewed The Alienist on + 14 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 4
Very well-written book. Full of mystery, the haunting sites and sounds of a day gone by, and a clever hero who clutches the reader and takes them on a wild ride into one of the strangest crimes to haunt New York City in history.
reviewed The Alienist on + 138 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 3
Simply put, The Alienist is a like a long episode of CSI set in late 19th New York City. Someone is killing young male prostitutes. A psychologist (known then as an alienist) convinces then NYC police chief Teddy Roosevelt to let him assemble a task force of detectives (including one female secretary cum detective) and a Times reporter - who is the narrator of the story. Using what was then cutting edge forensic techniques and technology - like finger printing, psychological profiling, handwriting analysis, etc, etc - they gradually figure out who is committing these dastardly crimes. But even then they have to find and catch him! Along the way they deal with some of the poorest and most criminal of NYC's citizens.

This is a long book, and bogged down a little for me in the middle, but picked up very well in the last few hundreds pages. And it was a fascinating story all along.
reviewed The Alienist on + 31 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 3
I absolutely LOVED this book. Carr has a gift for detail. Because he is an historian by training, his research into the late 19th and early 20th centuries added a great deal to the appeal of this book. Terrifying and left you feeling as though you were in 1900 New York as this serial kill ran loose. Character development was great and you grew to love this misfit cast of very intelligent sleuths.
reviewed The Alienist on + 66 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
Laszlo Kreizler is an American version of Sherlock Holmes who, in the setting of New York City of the late 1800's, attempts to solve the murders of children. Kreizler and his cohorts use methods unheard of at the time as they endanger their careers and lives to find the culprit.

I found the characters engaging and the plot gripping. I couldn't wait to see who the killer was. I enjoy stories with a group of well defined characters -- but not too many so that I lose track -- and Carr succeeds in creating that.
reviewed The Alienist on + 902 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
The Alienist is a 19th century murder mystery set in New York...it's CSI meets Sherlock Holmes.

A serial killer is loose in the underbelly of the city, and a very unlikely group of people band together in an attempt to solve the murders. It's a story about cutting-edge criminal technology: fingerprinting, character profiling, handwriting analysis, creative detective work, and the stealth required to pull off such an investigation without the real authorities catching on.

I found this book to be exactly what I am looking for: 19th century authenticity; a Holmes-like main character with competent and likeable sidekicks, an intelligent investigation, plenty of action, and an overall great plot.

I find this book to be an absolute must-read and I highly recommend it.
reviewed The Alienist on + 11 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
I read this book a while back, but, unlike many others, I have remembered all this time. I found it highly researched for the descriptions of the time and culture. I could picture the protagonists very clearly. The story kept me engrossed. I remember many hours of enjoyable reading.
reviewed The Alienist on
Helpful Score: 2
Incredibly detailed crime book - great for the beach.
reviewed The Alienist on + 902 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
The Alienist is a 19th century murder mystery set in New York...it's CSI meets Sherlock Holmes.

A serial killer is loose in the underbelly of the city, and a very unlikely group of people band together in an attempt to solve the murders. It's a story about cutting-edge criminal technology: fingerprinting, character profiling, handwriting analysis, creative detective work, and the stealth required to pull off such an investigation without the real authorities catching on.

I found this book to be exactly what I am looking for: 19th century authenticity; a Holmes-like main character with competent and likeable sidekicks, an intelligent investigation, plenty of action, and an overall great plot.

I find this book to be an absolute must-read and I highly recommend it.
reviewed The Alienist on + 96 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
'Silence of the Lambs' meets Jack the Ripper (so to speak Reviewer: "seasidewanderer" (Portland, OR United States)

New York City, 1896. A serial killer is on the loose, gruesomely preying upon cross-dressing boy prostitutes. Police detectives are making no progress solving the ghastly crimes. In fact, someone with power or influence seems to be bent on silencing witnesses and thwarting any investigation. Reform-minded police commissioner Theodore Roosevelt (yes, the same TR who later became president), determined to catch the killer, assembles an unconventional group of investigators headed by "alienist" Dr. Lazlo Kreizler. (In the 19th century, when psychology was in its infancy, the mentally ill were considered "alienated" from themselves and society, and the experts who treated them were known as "alienists.")
Dr. Kreizler's team includes his former Harvard classmate, New York Times crime reporter John Moore; Moore's longtime friend, spitfire heiress-turned-NYPD-secretary Sara Hamilton; and two former mental patients who now work as his servants.

To help identify the killer--who leaves behind very few clues, manages to spirit his victims out of locked rooms, and passes through the city unnoticed--the team attempts to develop a psychological profile of the type of person who would be capable of such horrendous deeds. The novelty of their approach does not win them any fans from the mental-health establishment or most NYPD detectives, and throughout the novel, they attempt to keep their involvement secret.

Author Caleb Carr puts his historical background to fascinating use. "The Alienist" is filled with rich details about both the seamier underside and more privileged parts of late-19th-century New York City and the then-novel crime detection techniques. Detectives Lucius and Marcus Isaacson, assigned to assist the investigation, employ the not-yet-accepted science of fingerprinting and other methods of identification in their hunt for the killer.

"The Alienist" is one of the few murder mysteries that I have ever enjoyed reading a second time. The characters are memorable, dryly amusing at times, and always fascinating. Carr portrays his victims as humans and individuals, rather than sensationalizing their professions. The plot, including a race against time once the team predicts when the killer is likely to strike again, moves along at a brisk pace. The historical detail advances the plot rather than bogging it down.

Lovers of historical fiction and detective mysteries will find a treat in "The Alienist."
reviewed The Alienist on
Helpful Score: 2
If you are interested in forensics & the beginning of the science of forensics, historical fiction with a great character lineup,& a great murder mystery that will keep you reading then this book is for you. The setting is the turn of the century New York, characters like Theodore Roosevelt, as police commissioner will peak your interest. You are given an insight few will ever know about the seedy side of New York City. You will watch the psychological development of a character who is unknown but is a serial killer. This book is a "hard subject read" because it deals with child protitution, pedophellia, child abuse and murder. Great book to read.
reviewed The Alienist on + 12 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
I really enjoyed this book. The focus on the method of solving the crime really caught my interest. Well written. Fascinating until the very end!
reviewed The Alienist on + 902 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
The Alienist is a 19th century murder mystery set in New York...it's CSI meets Sherlock Holmes.

A serial killer is loose in the underbelly of the city, and a very unlikely group of people band together in an attempt to solve the murders. It's a story about cutting-edge criminal technology: fingerprinting, character profiling, handwriting analysis, creative detective work, and the stealth required to pull off such an investigation without the real authorities catching on.

I found this book to be exactly what I am looking for: 19th century authenticity; a Holmes-like main character with competent and likeable sidekicks, an intelligent investigation, plenty of action, and an overall great plot.

I find this book to be an absolute must-read and I highly recommend it.
reviewed The Alienist on + 6 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
I loved this book. Outstanding and well-written historical fiction. The characters are well-developed, modern, and interesting. It was refreshing to read a historical novel where you could get involved with the characters and feel completely at ease with their "current" technology without feeling superior from your chair in the comfortable future.
reviewed The Alienist on + 8 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
This is my all-time favourite. The combination of the historical setting, the great characters and the twisted plot make it one I've read three times :)
reviewed The Alienist on + 32 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
I had to read this book for a college philosophy class, of all things. I can't remember what it had to do with the course, but I do remember it being a great read! Definitely one of the most enjoyable required reading pieces of my college experience. I even made my boyfriend read this one after I was done.
reviewed The Alienist on + 2 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Very exciting reading - surprisingly good!
reviewed The Alienist on + 902 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
The Alienist is a 19th century murder mystery set in New York...it's CSI meets Sherlock Holmes.

A serial killer is loose in the underbelly of the city, and a very unlikely group of people band together in an attempt to solve the murders. It's a story about cutting-edge criminal technology: fingerprinting, character profiling, handwriting analysis, creative detective work, and the stealth required to pull off such an investigation without the real authorities catching on.

I found this book to be exactly what I am looking for: 19th century authenticity; a Holmes-like main character with competent and likeable sidekicks, an intelligent investigation, plenty of action, and an overall great plot.

I find this book to be an absolute must-read and I highly recommend it.
reviewed The Alienist on + 4 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
A fun thriller, but especially for those interested in psychology
reviewed The Alienist on + 37 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
This is a well written book but with a gimmick. It is set in late nineteenth/early twentieth-century New York and Teddy Roosevelt (not yet president) is one of the main characters. This in itself was a draw for me, but I do not know enough about New York history, politics or geography to follow the plot. Unlike other historical novels where I have been unfamiliar with the landscape, this book did little to ease me into the environment so that I got comfortable with my surroundings enough to learn and get interested in the history surrounding the plot. I put it down less than a third of the way through and went on to more desirable reading.

To each his own. If you know New York and its history, you'll probably like the book.
reviewed The Alienist on + 112 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Combine early forensic investgation, Teddy Roosevelt & New York City circa 1900 for an interesting read.
reviewed The Alienist on + 3 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
It took a while to get into this, but once I did... WOW! Excellent book!
reviewed The Alienist on + 49 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
excellent and informative book about the precurser of behavior eprofiles. it is fiction and written in the style of victorian england, and takes place there a century ago. i liked it
reviewed The Alienist on + 64 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Mystery in the 19th century...way before DNA evidence. Worth a read.
reviewed The Alienist on + 43 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
starts slow. wordy. still, not a bad read.
reviewed The Alienist on + 4 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
This is *NOT* about aliens. This is CSI in the 19th century. A great period piece with great character development. Great minds swimming against the accepted norms of the time.
reviewed The Alienist on + 111 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Do not let the size of this book intimidate you. It's going to be one of the best historical mysteries you've read in a long time! The characters (with the appearance of several famous Americans), the historical New York City, and the science and detection methods all weave together in this fantastic story about the hunt for a serial killer. Dr. Kreizler is the closest to an American Sherlock Holmes as I've seen, and the narrator's storytelling reads much like Dr. Watson. Surprisingly suspenseful and tense as we turn the pages, it all comes to a finale that pays off. Definitely worth reading. 4.5 stars.
reviewed The Alienist on + 8 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
This was a very informative book, even though fiction. The historical facts of mental illness treatment and forensics in the late 1800's was so very interesting. Along with the thriller of a plot.
reviewed The Alienist on + 379 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Good thriller about 19th century New York City.
reviewed The Alienist on + 16 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
This is an excellent period mystery, definitely worth the time it takes to get into it. Set during Theodore Roosevelt's tenure as police commissioner of New York, it's slant toward the psychology of the crime was, I thought, fascinating. It was rather dark in nature but absorbing for all that. And I just loved Teddy. Take a chance on this one especially if you like murder mysteries with a great historical twist.
reviewed The Alienist on + 82 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Serial killer around 1900 in NYC. Theodore Roosevelt as chief of Police. Interesting look at how these crimes were treated in the old days. Nominated for The Bram Stoker Award - 1994.
reviewed The Alienist on + 2 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
A historical novel (turn of the 20th century NYC) and a great cast of characters on the hunt for a serial killer. Amazing depth of understanding in the early field of psychology and forensics. I loved every minute of this book!!!
reviewed The Alienist on + 147 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Another good historical detective novel by Carr in which the birth of "forensics" is again explored.
Placed in "sin city", the NY of the late 1890's, a team appointed by chief of police, Theodore Roosevelt (before he becomes President) is made up of 2 Jewish detectives who happen to be brothers, a gun-toting female police secretary, a playboy crime reporter, and the good doctor ( the alientist-- the old fashioned name for therapist/psychologist/psychiatrist) and his servants.
They track a serial killer whose victim profile and killing methodology helps them form a profile of the suspect they are looking for. As they deduce probable careers for the rooftop seeking monster, they discover how his unhappy childhood led him to kill the way he does.
A great read for anyone who enjoys the TV series "Criminal Minds".
reviewed The Alienist on + 5 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
This was a tough read. Although the concept and the characters kept me going. It ended quite well and I would recommend it to a reader who believes in sticking with a good book, even though it's long.
reviewed The Alienist on + 33 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
This book brings the New York of the late 1800's alive! While the story itself is compelling enough, the descriptions of the environs are what made this book sing for me!
reviewed The Alienist on + 3 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Terrifying look at crime in turn of the 20th century New York City. The vividly painted seedy underbelly that existed in the City at that time (and probably remains, though with a different face) is a horrible place that nobody should have had to endure; the lack of drive to change things on the part of the NYPD of the day; the lack of acceptance of forensic methodology and evidence. All of these things add up to a grim world in which a person is able to brutally torture and kill children who have nowhere else to turn.

The lone light in this dark setting is a band of people from various backgrounds, led by an alienist (the term used to describe psychologists at the time) and backed by Theodore Roosevelt prior to his trek to Washington. The group fights resistance from the police department, the upper class (including the Catholic and Protestant churches), and the criminal element active in the city while racing against the unknown calendar by which a psychopath executes children.

The characters are well-fleshed out, and each unique. Roosevelt is exactly how one would expect him to be: just on the realistic side of larger than life. The city provides a character unto itself with the juxtaposition of the contrasting aristocratic class and third-world immigrant class is outstandingly portrayed, and the criminal world that straddles the fence between the two classes, providing depravity to the upper echelon by victimizing the poor while offering the possibility of escape from under the otherwise inescapable boot heel of the rich.
reviewed The Alienist on + 12 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Absolutely fascinating mix of fact and fiction! Best-selling author Caleb Carr gives us several murder mysteries rolled into one with this thrilling hunt for one of New Yorks first serial killers.

Set at the turn of the century, eminent alienist Laszlo Kreizler, accompanied by his good friends John Moore and Sara Howard and two quarreling brother investigators Lucius and Marcus Isaacson, must stop a savage beast before he strikes again. With the addition of real-life characters such as Teddy Roosevelt and J.P. Morgan, you could easily believe that youre reading a true crime thriller.

Caleb Carrs extensive historical education and the amazing amount of research he puts into his work truly goes a long way towards bringing the sights, scents and sounds of this great city and time period come alive.

At around 600 pages in length, The Alienist is a surprisingly quick read. So much well written, page-turning excitement left me longing for even more. Im really looking forward to reading Mr. Carrs following novel, The Angel of DarknessI cant wait to find out what all my old friends are up to.
reviewed The Alienist on + 5 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Love the way this writer writes~ fantastic book!
reviewed The Alienist on
Helpful Score: 1
This was a great read. Great characterization of what it was like in New York in the late 1880's. Great historical information. The book started out slow but the pace got faster throughout the book. I loved the ending.
reviewed The Alienist on + 2 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Enjoyable and engaging look at a the beginning of profiling as part of the criminal justice system through historical crime fiction. The characters are complex and interesting, and the story was a fun read. I highly recommend this book!
reviewed The Alienist on + 15 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
A haunting book, combining historical fiction, early forensic science and criminal profiling as the hunt for a serial killer takes place in New York City in the early 1900s. Teddy Roosevelt is the police commissioner, one of the great characters Carr develops. This is a favorite of mine, one of the few I've kept and reread.
reviewed The Alienist on + 1058 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Very good book overall, with interesting characters and plot. My only problem with it was that Carr often seemed to inundate the reader with details--tantalizing details, to be sure, about characters, or the intricacies of police work, or life and manners in 19th century NYC, or the then-new science of psychology (which was, sometimes, like being back in Psych 101). The details were fascinating, but they often threatened to swamp the flow of the story. Also, like his characters, Carr didn't seem to give much thought to the end of the adventure, so that the book's ending was somewhat disappointing. Still, I'm looking forward to reading the sequel to find out what happened next.
reviewed The Alienist on + 72 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Step into another time and unforgettable terror. The year is 1896 the city is New York the hunt is on for a baffling new kind of criminal... A serial Killer....
reviewed The Alienist on + 36 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
I just couldn't get into it which really disappointed me because the book has gotten such great reviews. I guess it just goes to show that we don't all like the same things. The writing was good, I just couldn't get into the story.
reviewed The Alienist on
Helpful Score: 1
Excellent excellent mystery based in late 19th and early 20th century New York city. Very engrossing.
reviewed The Alienist on + 220 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
History mixed with mystery, it is the story of the hunt for a serial killer in turn-of-the-century New York City. In rich detail you are taken to another place and time, a different way of approaching crime, before DNA and computers and fingerprint databases. Psychology and resulting profiles are looked upon with skepticism. But a team of farsighted invesigators break new ground and work frantically to catch the killer before he strikes again.

In my top 25 of all-time favorite books.
reviewed The Alienist on + 240 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
I came upon this author by accident, picking up this book at a yard sale. This story is outstanding! It is about a serial killer and takes place in the late 1800's. He is my newest best author, one I will be on the lookout for in the future.
reviewed The Alienist on + 56 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
The book is well-written and has a good story, even though it is quite gruesome. It's also very long, and I think could have been cut some and still be an excellent book.
reviewed The Alienist on + 159 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Superb. One thing I particularly found impressive was the historical accuracy and attention to detail. This is one book that stands out in my mind as excellent.
reviewed The Alienist on + 18 more book reviews
Gripping historical fiction from Caleb Carr, this book incorporates old New York, Teddy Roosevelt, a serial killer, and the beginning of forensic science to solve murders. Excellent--do not miss this one!
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Best historical fiction I've read.
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Very interesting book about early New York.
reviewed The Alienist on
Set in 1846, this is a murder mystery with an historical perspective. Narration and story both took me a while to get into, but I stuck with it and was eventually pulled in. 3-and-a-half stars.
reviewed The Alienist on + 902 more book reviews
The Alienist is a 19th century murder mystery set in New York...it's CSI meets Sherlock Holmes.

A serial killer is loose in the underbelly of the city, and a very unlikely group of people band together in an attempt to solve the murders. It's a story about cutting-edge criminal technology: fingerprinting, character profiling, handwriting analysis, creative detective work, and the stealth required to pull off such an investigation without the real authorities catching on.

I found this book to be exactly what I am looking for: 19th century authenticity; a Holmes-like main character with competent and likeable sidekicks, an intelligent investigation, plenty of action, and an overall great plot.

I find this book to be an absolute must-read and I highly recommend it.
reviewed The Alienist on + 33 more book reviews
Hard read, I couldn't get into it at first but I finished it and it was good.
reviewed The Alienist on + 29 more book reviews
A very good historical mystery/ thriller. The Alienist is a profiler trying to locate a serial killer in NYC during the days of Teddy Roosevelt's tenure as chief of police.
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"Caleb Carr's rich period thriller takes us back to the moment in history when the modern idea of the serial killer become available to us . . . tracks the efforts of a team of farsighted investigators working frantically to solve a string of hideous murders . . . absorbing, suspenseful, gratifying."
reviewed The Alienist on + 17 more book reviews
I felt like the book got off to a very slow start, and I almost didn't finish it. However, it was one of my best friend's favorite books, so I stuck with it, and I'm glad I did! The late 19th century criminal profiling was fascinating to see unfold. It's a great psychological thriller! Definitely give it read if you like history and/or thrillers & suspense!
reviewed The Alienist on + 16 more book reviews
Excellent mystery! The best I've ever read.
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Great murder mystery.
reviewed The Alienist on + 80 more book reviews
I couldn't pick up another book or turn on the television or nap until I finished this book. Not because the mystery itself was so exciting, but because the characters working to solve the mystery were fascinating. (Think about it. Would CSI or Without a Trace be as compelling to watch if we didn't care not only about the mystery of the week, but also about the investigators and detectives solving the mystery?) The narrator, a police reporter telling the story after twenty-five years have passed, and the psychologist with the hidden past, and his secret love, and Sara, determined to be accepted as a woman detective when women were hardly allowed to set foot in police headquarterswhat a group. I'm eager to read the sequel (The Angel of Darkness).
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This book will leave you spellbound until the last pages as a who done it at the turn of the century. The members of this group of detectives and the new head of NY's police dept, Teddy Roosevelt, really become a team utilizing a new method to solve the killer of young boys as it drags you through the seedy bars and sex dens of the period. History, science, psychology, and good police work will keep your eyes glued to this book, and guarantee you will be recommending it like me.
reviewed The Alienist on
Great book and wonderful author. Intriguing looking into the past with historian Caleb Carr in an interesting fictional story of a serial killer.
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slow read at times
reviewed The Alienist on
This book came out to enormous hype when it was published. I read it eagerly and was disappointed. I find Caleb Carr's writing facile and unpolished, and the story was loose and not as gripping as I would have liked. It's not a waste of time to read, but there are a LOT better books in this genre.
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Not a bad read!
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Serial killer at the turn of the century...enjoyed every page.
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If you like history, mystery, and psychology you will like this book. A great story with some unexpected twists in 19th century New York City. Enjoyed it a great deal.
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This book reads like Dan Brown before there was Dan Brown. If that's your thing then I suppose you will enjoy it. I thought it was detective fluff and not very well written at that.
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A thriller set in 1896 in New York City.
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Widely acclaimed thriller, a New York Times bestseller, about a serial killer. This book is well researched and fits into the historical fiction category. An in-depth look at New York City in 1896; all the corruption, poverty, mobsters, houses of prostitution and gin mills that existed in that "Golden Era". Prior to the 20th Century, doctors who studied mental pathologies were known as "Alienists" (today we call them psychologists). This tale is about an unlikely team of sleuths: a reporter, a secretary, a police commissioner and an alienist. Together they set out to capture a macabre murderer who is preying on young boys. This book details a very real, dark side of child exploitation. It also presents a new concept for the time-the psychological profile of a killer. This novel reads like an old steam engine, I thought it was a bit of a struggle in the beginning to grasp the story, the parts are fragmented and the momentum is slow. But, once the mental profiling and forensics begin to evolve, the momentum picks up, this tale becomes gripping and hard to put down. I thought the ending was a bit of an anti-climax compared to the earlier chapters. Many topics for discussion-a good book.
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I found this book fascinating and could not put it down. I loved the CSI aspect of it, especially the historical details of how psychological profilers worked a century ago. I loved the detail Carr went into and even the side stories had me on the edge of my seat. I simply didn't want the story to end.
reviewed The Alienist on + 27 more book reviews
The 1890's was a period of incredible change and New York City was a center for a lot of that change. The Alienist is essentially a murder mystery set during this time in New York City, but it is much more than that. An alienist is the term used for a psychiatrist, in that time when psychiatry was barely recognized as a science, if it was recognized at all. This story weaves the many changes in attitude towards women, classes of people, law enforcement, with the physical changes taking place in the city of New York. This is a very enjoyable read.
reviewed The Alienist on + 902 more book reviews
The Alienist is a 19th century murder mystery set in New York...it's CSI meets Sherlock Holmes.

A serial killer is loose in the underbelly of the city, and a very unlikely group of people band together in an attempt to solve the murders. It's a story about cutting-edge criminal technology: fingerprinting, character profiling, handwriting analysis, creative detective work, and the stealth required to pull off such an investigation without the real authorities catching on.

I found this book to be exactly what I am looking for: 19th century authenticity; a Holmes-like main character with competent and likeable sidekicks, an intelligent investigation, plenty of action, and an overall great plot.

I find this book to be an absolute must-read and I highly recommend it.
reviewed The Alienist on + 33 more book reviews
Step into antoher time - and unforgettable terror. The year is 1896. The city is New York. The hunt is on for a baffling new kind of criminal... a serial killer.
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Historical mystery: very interesting perspective
reviewed The Alienist on + 902 more book reviews
The Alienist is a 19th century murder mystery set in New York...it's CSI meets Sherlock Holmes.

A serial killer is loose in the underbelly of the city, and a very unlikely group of people band together in an attempt to solve the murders. It's a story about cutting-edge criminal technology: fingerprinting, character profiling, handwriting analysis, creative detective work, and the stealth required to pull off such an investigation without the real authorities catching on.

I found this book to be exactly what I am looking for: 19th century authenticity; a Holmes-like main character with competent and likeable sidekicks, an intelligent investigation, plenty of action, and an overall great plot.

I find this book to be an absolute must-read and I highly recommend it.
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it's been a very long time since i read this, but i remember enjoying it immensely
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Set in New York City in 1896 Police Commissioner Theodore Roosevelt is up against a killer who preys upon young male prostitues. Set against the backdrop of police corruption and disparities of rich and poor Roosevelt turns to a renowned "alienist" Dr. Laszlo Kreizler to help him "profile" the killer. The pyschological profiling of murderers is still in it's infancy and a note in the beginning of the book states that prior to the 20th century experts who studied mental pathologies were known as alienists.
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Excellent historical novel. It's March of 1896 in New York City. The term Alienist in that time period is what we would call a psychiatrist today. Someone is killing young male prostitutes in a most grotesque and horribly way. A newspaper reporter for the Times, the alienist himself, two police detective brothers and the female secretary from the police department come together as an unlikely team to catch the murderer. At a time when psychology was viewed with great skeptisim by the public they work in secret with the aid of Theodore Roosevelt serving then as Police Commissioner, They seek to know what drives the killer. The brainstorming of these collective minds is nothing short of brilliant. And I learned much along the way.

I very much enjoyed this novel. It was as if I was an invisible participant in the long and tedious process before the aid of technology. The use of Roosevelt gave this fictional story a realism a reader could appreciate. Superbly written in 500 pages that flew by. Criminal profiling at it's dawn. I highly recommend this book. (less)
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LOVED, LOVED, LOVED this book. For anyone who interested in history, excitement, New York City, or just a fun read, this book is for you. It has it all. A thrilling masterpiece.
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A great book!
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A very accurate depiction of NYC life and the poor conditions during the late 1900\'s, wrapped up in an intriguing serial murder mystery.
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A first rate tale of crime and punishment that will keep readers guessing until the final pages.
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New York City, 1896. A serial killer is on the loose, gruesomely preying upon cross-dressing boy prostitutes. Police detectives are making no progress solving the ghastly crimes. In fact, someone with power or influence seems to be bent on silencing witnesses and thwarting any investigation. Reform-minded police commissioner Theodore Roosevelt (yes, the same TR who later became president), determined to catch the killer, assembles an unconventional group of investigators headed by "alienist" Dr. Lazlo Kreizler. (In the 19th century, when psychology was in its infancy, the mentally ill were considered "alienated" from themselves and society, and the experts who treated them were known as "alienists.")
Dr. Kreizler's team includes his former Harvard classmate, New York Times crime reporter John Moore; Moore's longtime friend, spitfire heiress-turned-NYPD-secretary Sara Hamilton; and two former mental patients who now work as his servants.

To help identify the killer--who leaves behind very few clues, manages to spirit his victims out of locked rooms, and passes through the city unnoticed--the team attempts to develop a psychological profile of the type of person who would be capable of such horrendous deeds. The novelty of their approach does not win them any fans from the mental-health establishment or most NYPD detectives, and throughout the novel, they attempt to keep their involvement secret.
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I adored this book. A mix of history and mystery. A turn of the Century "Criminal Minds".
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A really good, interesting read. I am very interested in psychology and the psychology of serial killers, and I think that because the story was set in the late 1800's, it made it that much more interesting.
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Really well structured book. A good read.
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An astonishing tale of crime and punishment in the late 1800's. A very detailed and vivid account of the beginning of serial killer profiling.
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Excellent read! Highly recommend!
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Step into another time 1896, The city is New York and the hunt is on for a new kind oif criminal a serial killer.
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A turn of the century psychological thriller well before CSI.
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This book is an excellent crime/mystery novel with a very tight plot, great characters and first rate timing. I loved this book. It is very well written and engrossing.
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A first rate tale of crime and punishment that will keep the readers guessing until the final pages. Takes place in the year 1919.
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A historical serial killer novel. Maybe the first profiler account. If you like profiling, CSI kinds of criime books, you will love this!
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Chilling!
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This is a terrific, atmospheric, book on the detective work involved in hunting down an insane killer who can pass for normal while he selects his innocent victims. Caleb Carr writes with such skill and empathy that you forget it's fiction! Don't let the length deter you - that just means there's more to enjoy! A tight-knit group of friends all follow a psychologist Dr. Laszlo Kreizler (psychologists were known in those days as an "alienist" since people with mental problems were "alienated" by society.) It's practically a Patricia Cornwell book in early-New York clothing. This is just a wonderful, intriguing story which will leave you well satisfied that this was a good way to spend your time.
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Very suspenseful!!!
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"Harrowing, Fascinating...will please fans of Ragtime and Silence of the Lambs." - Flint Journal

From the backcover: "Step into another time-and unforgettable terror...The year is 1896. The city is New York...The hunt is on for a baffling new kind of criminal...a Serial Killer."
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I love mysteries and this one was great. I really like the use way "new" investigative techniques were introduced in this book. Set in 1896, the era is similar to Holmes. But the use of a psychologist instead of a detective is an interesting perspective to bring to the arena of crime fighting.
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Love the historical fiction!
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Story about mental pathologist set in trun-of-centruy New York City. Interesting historical context, very readable.
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Honestly, one of the most interesting books I've read. Very evocative of the times, and a glimpse into the beginnings of forensic medicine. See also Carr's two follow-ups.
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Good story
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excellent . Loved the era and Carr makes you smell the dirt and feel the feelings so vividly .I hated to see it end
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Outstanding turn-of-the-century NYC historical fiction thriller.
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Good read
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My husband, who reads several books a week, lists this as one of his favorite books of all time. Not praise given lightly!
New York in 1896 is the time and place. Caleb Carr elegantly details the time and place; it will pull you in and fascinate you.
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The hunt for a killer unheard of in 1800's New York: a serial killer. Excellent escapist fiction
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Just too much side story about every item. It really broke up the flow of the story and made it hard to stay focused. I liked the basic story early CSI ideas and a woman policeman but too much decoration.
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Fear is in the air as they hunt for a serial killer.
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couldn't stop reading.
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One of my favorite books!

FYI... mine is a library copy - stamped withdrawn on the page edges.
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Beyond great book - blows Rule of Four away - every page is rich with story
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4-1/2 hrs. abridged
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This is my third copy of this book. I have read it twice before, since moving to New York I wanted to re-read with a specific eye towards the historic value in which is throughout the book. I loved the characters, they seemingly authentic detetective skills for that time in history. Enjoy the book, I look forward to reading it again.

lindsey
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I know this book is fiction, but there is also a lot of history too... I found myself looking up things on the computer and everything I looked up was dead on... wow, I wish my history teachers had of been that cleaver, I may of learned more!!! As you may of guessed, I loved the book and can't wait to read the next.... It actually took me a while to read this book, not because I thought badly of any part of it, but because I found myself needing to read every word, and as I said, looked stuff up.... Great book, give it a try!!!!
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An interesting look at the beginnings of profiling serial killers in a unique historical perspective.
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A page-turner -- very smart thriller.
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It is 1896 in New York City. Theodore Roosevelt is the Police Commissioner and the hunt is on for a new type of criminal...a serial killer.
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Read this book some time ago and it still remains one of my favorites. The writing is supurb and the story moves right along
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nice read
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This was a very, very good book. Extremely disturbing in parts, gut wrenching.
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I loved this book, but read it ages ago. Since it has been so long since then, I am borrowing a review from Amazon.

one of the best of the kind, March 7, 2006
Reviewer: Aleksandra Nita-Lazar (Boston, MA USA)

Caleb Carr is a historian and it shows. His books are a separate category. Of course, there is a mystery to solve, but there is so much more..."The Alienist" (named after the old-fashioned word for "psychiatrist") is a novel set in New York City, when Theodore Roosevelt (my interest in him as a historical figure and admiration for him as a person date from reading this novel) is the Chief Police Commissioner. The story is told by the reporter John Moore, turned amateur detective, who relates the search for an elusive murderer of young prostitute boys. The technique of fingerprinting is just in its wake and fingerprints are not legally approved as evidence in the US, but this does not stop the investigators from using them, among other novel methods. The most important one is the use of psychology to imagine how the killer's mind works. The cooperation (and friendship) of Moore, detective Sara Hamilton, scientist brothers, Roosevelt, and, last but not least, the renowned psychiatrist Laszlo Kreizler, results ultimately (and unsurprisingly, of course, although after a tantalizing struggle making a great story) in a success. New York City is described perfectly and accurately. It is easy to imagine how the streets and buildings of SoHo and the East Side looked, and what was the street and night life like at the turn of the 19th and 20th century. A delicious treat for the fans of the Big Apple and the dark secrets of its alleys, and although it is not a small tome, it is so fascinating, it reads breezily.
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great read!
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Six months on the New York Times Bestseller list. Great Thriller!
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Very interesting book. Enjoyed it!
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one of my fav books of all time!
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I enjoyed it
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I really liked this book.