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The Alienist: Number 1 in series (Laszlo Kreizler & John Schuyler Moore) Hardcover – 9 Jun 1994


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 534 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown (9 Jun. 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316909718
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316909716
  • Product Dimensions: 23.9 x 16.5 x 4.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,510,763 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

" You can smell the fear in the air." --"The New York Times" " Gripping, atmospheric, intelligent, and entertaining." --"USA Today" --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Book Description

Reissue of this ground-breaking historical whodunnit, in which 1890s New York is as much a character as the investigators --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

23 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Martin on 28 April 2005
Format: Paperback
A corker of a book! Carr's obviously done his research here (and judging from 'the devil soldier' he's more than capable). The combination of history, history of forensics and forensic psychology, profiling, etc., all mixed together with a healthy dose of psycho/sociopath on the loose is gripping stuff. How much is factually accurate, I know not but I'm not going to argue the point. His characters are likeable and fun, albeit a rather eccentric bunch; his villian is villianous and his plots twist and turn like twisty turny things. I first borrowed and read this several years ago, then bought a copy for myself - I've now lent that to a friend and not seen it since so will be replacing mine again soon. It will be one that remains in my collection to be read again and again.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Christoph Strizik on 6 May 2004
Format: Paperback
An average crime story without surprises and twists. When I think about that book it reminds of a phrase I heard a long time ago: ‘Everything has been said before!’ Nothing in the story plot is surprising or exciting. The chase after the murder is a straightforward plot and not even the end of the story offers interesting or surprising moments. Why would you read that book? Because of the vivid and historically well researched descriptions of New York and its people in 1896. The book is also an interesting read if you enjoy forensics and the history of it. However, the character development is kind of odd and not very realistic in some instances. For example, the forensic team investigating the murders consists of a woman and a black man. Back at that time, the level of involvement of these characters would have been rather impossible or at least very different. I got the impression the author tried to be too politically correct. Another odd part is Kreizler’s mysterious childhood which influences his decisions in some cases. This part of the story is not sufficiently enough addressed and contradicts with the overall approach of explaining everything in great detail. All in all an average crime story and nothing you have to read.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Spinning Jenny on 17 Feb. 2007
Format: Paperback
Apocryphally, Caleb Carr's publishers thought this was originally a factual historical book when they first received it, but then discovered it moved a little more quickly and (dare I say it) excitingly than a standard academic historical work.

I disagree with the reviewer that thinks it's too long. The beauty about this book is the manner in which it sucks you into the seedy underbelly of New York in the last decade of the nineteenth century, and the research and information we get as readers is startlingly comprehensive: criminology, alienism (nascent psycho-analysis and psychiatry) and detailed corruption. Theodore Roosevelt is name-checked and plays a significant role in the story.

For anyone keen to delve into the best that New York writing can offer (this was a NYT bestseller and sold millions) then I would recommend this unreservedly. It is not a wham-bam-thank-you-ma'am thriller, more of a totally believable and often surprising journey into the labyrinth of horrific crime that no-one - then, at least - wanted to believe was real. But it was.
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 16 Dec. 2002
Format: Paperback
The Alienist is a book that is filled with both mystery and horror and it is absolutely riveting. Although a little over five hundred pages long, The Alienist is so fantastic and reads so well that we barely notice the pages going by. I read it in two evenings, something that is very rare for me; when a book is as good as this one is, I like to savor it and make it last.
The first thing that most readers will wonder about is the somewhat strange title. What, exactly, is an alienist? Well, as Carr explains, prior to the twentieth century, those who were mentally ill were thought to be alienated, from society and from their own true nature as well. Those who studied the pathology of mental illness were thus known as "alienists."
The plot centers around three friends: a journalist, John Moore; an alienist, Lazlo Kreizler; and a newly-appointed Police Commissioner who just happens to be Teddy Roosevelt. The three are working to solve a series of brutal murders that involves a string of boy prostitutes.
Teddy, as would be expected, is on top of everything and appoints Dr. Kreizler to head the investigation into the murders. Moore is included by association only, it would seem, since he and Teddy went to Yale together. Coincidentally, Moore has only recently returned from England where he was busy covering the Jack the Ripper murders.
Kreizler immediately begins to track the murders using what is known and what is unknown and via assumption as well. The twists and turns in this book are so complex and varied that both information and assumptions change almost as quickly as the team of investigators can piece them all together.
As would be expected, tracking a serial killer in New York City isn't an easy job.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Shutsumon on 18 July 2009
Format: Paperback
This was bought for me for Christmas a couple of years back. The giver knew I like thrillers and crime shows on TV and also knew I was an avid reader. I guess they made a reasonable assumption based on that. Ironically this kind of crime thriller is something I rarely read. But if I'm given a book I will at least poke my nose between the covers to see what's there. I'm glad I did.

It's an interesting premise. It's 1896 in New York City and the Police Commissioner (Teddy Roosevelt no less) needs to catch a killer who is terrorising young male prostitutes (and by young I mean child) when most of his force just want to ignore these deaths as unimportant. He calls in his friend Doctor Lazlo Kreizler to help. Kreizler is an Alienist (that is a psychiatrist) at a time when Psychology is a science just finding it's feet and much disliked by the powers that be. He also assigns a couple of officers who have knowledge of new (and not legally accepted at this time) techniques like fingerprinting.

So basically it's a psychologist profiler and a forensics team trying to catch a serial killer. Uninspiring stuff except for the setting which adds a twist. Kreizler is making this up as he goes along - and you really feel that. And he and his team have to work in secrecy because people don't trust 'alienists' or the new forensics. That twist and the realisation of the setting is enough to elevate the story above your average crime thriller. The late 19th century was a time in transition. Science was marching on at an accelerating rate, women were starting to maneuver for suffrage and other rights and similar. The world was changing and people don't like change. And the setting is so beautifully evoked in this novel that you feel that same sense of uncertainity.
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