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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping stuff!
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...
Published on 28 April 2005 by Martin

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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not really a page turner but…
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...
Published on 6 May 2004 by Christoph Strizik


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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping stuff!, 28 April 2005
This review is from: The Alienist (Laszlo Kreizler & John Schuyler Moore) (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
3.0 out of 5 stars Not really a page turner but…, 6 May 2004
By 
Christoph Strizik (Sydney) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Alienist (Laszlo Kreizler & John Schuyler Moore) (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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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Triumphant, 24 Nov 2000
By 
G. ADAIR - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
One of my better 'bargain bin' discoveries, this one. I picked it up for a mere 20% of the cover price.
Let's get to the point: what makes for a good character in a book or film? A character that you can really identify with? One that you really care about? Caleb Carr will show you the answer to that question: each of the characters in this book has a history, a background of events that caused them to become who they are.
Result: as the reader, you actually give a damn about what happens to them. You understand the basis for the decisions they make, the actions they take, the feelings they have, and ultimately what becomes of them.
The plot is well thought out, with a few sub plots and red herrings thrown in for good measure. Mr Carr's writing style is perfect for the job too: reminiscent of old classics from the 19th century, yet fast-paced enough to keep the reader interested. The setting of old New York is vividly brought to life, street by street, building by building, and the communities it houses are portrayed with sympathy and realism. Truly Caleb must have spent many a long night doing his research.
The conclusion is logical and satisfactory - no need for a hackneyed twist in the tail or a cliched moral lesson.
I read somewhere that he's sold the film rights for a large sum of money. Good for him. This book will make a great film, particularly if the producers put the emphasis on quality drama, beautiful cinematography and competent acting, rather than hollywood glitz or gore...
I read one review on Amazon.co.uk that gave the book a poor review due to it's lack of fear and tension. I feel that's missing the point somewhat. If you want horror, go read Stephen King or one of his ilk. This book is about criminal psychology - what makes a man into a killer? And as such nobody - but NOBODY - has done a better job than Caleb Carr.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb novel written by a historian-professor, 17 Feb 2007
By 
This review is from: The Alienist (Laszlo Kreizler & John Schuyler Moore) (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
5.0 out of 5 stars More Complex Than An Escher Drawing, 16 Dec 2002
This review is from: The Alienist (Laszlo Kreizler & John Schuyler Moore) (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. People die, disappear and are murdered with frightening regularity and, usually, with little rhyme or reason. Roosevelt, however, is determined. Not only must he solve the murders, he must also clean up the NYPD in the process. There are, of course, the usual assortment of people who simply do not want the murders solved, in this case, corrupt policeman, underworld bosses and even the city's elite. Virtually everyone seems to hold the attitude that the murder victims, being prostitutes, shouldn't matter. In fact, there are those who think the city should be glad to rid of them. This is a book filled with both social and political turmoil, turmoil that threatens to overwhelm the murder case and make it impossible to solve.
The writing is fluid and really first-rate. The pages fly by and the suspense builds like a danse macabre. The characters are fully-developed but a little dark. The only bright spot in this fascinating but bizarre book is Teddy Roosevelt, himself. But it would, of course, be impossible to paint Teddy all somber, all of the time.
The Alienist is a dark and offbeat book and one that borders on the macabre, but it is also one that is fascinating and extremely well-written. All in all, an enormous accomplishment.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good but somewhat flawed, 18 July 2009
By 
Shutsumon (Staffordshire, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Alienist (Laszlo Kreizler & John Schuyler Moore) (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. And the characters are beautifully drawn as well, rich and vivid and at also perfect representative of the changes shaking the world.

But there's a problem - well several.

Caleb Cain is an historian - in the vivid authenticity of the setting it shows in a good way. There are times when it shows in a not so good way. That is to say he infodumps in a very obtrusive way. We get passages of unnecessary backstory and long explanations of the "new" techniques. Sometimes it reads more like a history book than a novel. At one point I was skimming and thinking 'enough of this, get me back to story'. This makes it a little hard to get into (fortunately it starts with an excellent hook that I bore with the turgid bit until it got going again).

He is also heavy handed with the foreshadowing which makes the twists unsurprising which is always unfortunate. Foreshadowing should make you slap your head because you missed it not spell it out.

So all in all The Alienist is good read - good enough that I want to read the sequel - but flawed in various important ways.

After due consideration I shall grant it 3.5 stars rounded down.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cobblestone Streets and Horrific Murder, 13 Jan 2003
By A Customer
This is Caleb Carr's magnificent novel of a serial killer on the loose in turn of the century New York, and the dangerous pusuit of him by Dr. Lazlo Kreizler, his good friend John Moore, the way ahead of her time Sara Howard, law enforcement brothers Lucius and Marcus Isaacson, young street urchin Stevie, Kreizler's loyal servant Cyrus, and of course, police commissioner Theodore Roosevelt.
Both The Alienist and it's sequel, The Angel of Darkness, are wonderful historical mysteries with gritty and exciting storylines set in flavorful turn of the century New York. Carr does this better than anyone I have ever read. You can smell the wet cobblestone streets after it rains and hear the clip clop of horses pulling carriages under gaslights. The Alienist is dripping with atmosphere and the characters, both fictional and historical, are fleshed out and real, so much so that by the time we are done with this one and go to read The Angel of Darkness we feel as though we are visiting old friends.
When Lazlo's old friend Theodore Roosevelt is confronted with several murders of young boy prostitutes, so gruesome that even the most seasoned and hardened of professionals can barely stomach being called to the murder scenes, he makes a decision that will change the face of police work forever. He 'unofficially' let's Kreizler form a small group to pursue the killer through psychological profiling. Police secratary Sara Howard and crime reporter and best friend John Moore, who knows the underbelly of New York all to well, are two of the main players in this teriffically exciting mystery.
Kreizler's servant Cyrus, and young Stevie, saved from the streets by the kind Kriezler's methods, also play a large part, as do the two police brothers Lucius and Marcus Isaacson, who use revolutionary forensic methods to help close in on a disturbed serial killer who's interval between killings is getting shorter. As they close in on who the killer may be and where he will strike next, by profiling him and understanding the impetus for his brutal crimes, the danger hits closer to home than any of our friends had expected.
There are moments so exciting in this book that you just have to make yourself put it down, and the atmosphere is wonderful. We wish that we also could be there at Delmonicos to eat and enjoy the atmosphere as our new found friends plan out their next move. I read the second book first and it did not lessen my enjoyment when I went back to read this one. They are equally good. Moore narrates this one and a young Stevie narrates the second, giving both these wonderful books a special flavor, and a very real insight into human, and inhuman behavior.
There is tragedy and friendship in this mystery as well, and we come to love these people. Both books are long, The Alienist about 500 pages and The Angel of Darkness about 600. But you will be sorry to turn the last page. This fine novel and it's sequel are great reads and hold a special place among my books. If you love to read you do not want to miss this one!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Really gripping, unusual thriller, 28 Aug 2009
This review is from: The Alienist (Laszlo Kreizler & John Schuyler Moore) (Paperback)
Give yourself a few pages to get used to the 19th century, 1st person narrative. It's a little wordy and - at first - a little tiresome, but the voice of our narrator, Moore, soon starts to flow naturally and easily. Plus, the story opens - no punches pulled - with the aftermath of a bloody and brutal murder - so you're straight into the action! What's interesting about this novel is that on the one hand it's a particularly gruesome murder mystery (not for the feint hearted, we're talking about child murder and mutilation - pretty grim), but on the other hand, it's a very clever story of a psychologist 'inventing' criminal profiling and forensic pathology as he goes along. We take it for granted these days, the way that the police figure out the type of person who could become a serial killer, but of course that wasn't always the case.

The writer is particularly good at keeping up the pace and, like a TV serial, the end of every chapter contains a 'cliffhanger' destined to have you thinking 'just one more page' before you turn the light out.

Overall, a real thumper of a book. Original, well researched, well written, thought provoking and thoroughly absorbing - everything a good novel should be.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating read!!, 25 Nov 1999
This book provides a brilliant insight into Victorian New York. The characters are excellent, the Doctor with his wonderful psychological insight and the detective brothers willing to grasp new innovations for crime fighting. I particularly enjoyed the background on the Red Indian tribes. This is an excellent book, and despite its size, it gripped me like no book had done for a long time (perhaps not since Red Dragon/Silence of the Lambs). I could not put it down!!! So ignore Paul's comments from Germany (must have been reading a different book), and buy a copy.(And no, I'm not Caleb Carr's PR officer (unfortunately) ...
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very Good, 13 Aug 2007
This review is from: The Alienist (Laszlo Kreizler & John Schuyler Moore) (Paperback)
I set up this pseudonymous reviewer account because, frankly, I'm sick of fanboys (and girls) throwing up 5 star reviews for their latest flavour-of-the-month read, and drizzling their frothy praise with over-used adjectives like 'brilliant', 'fantastic', 'excellent', effectively robbing these words - which should always be used very carefully - of any real meaning. I can't recall how many bleedin' times I've bought over-hyped books solely on the strength of these reviews only to find I'm holding yet another poorly executed and unoriginal piece of hackneyed rubbish.

So, the campaign to rebalance Amazon reviews starts here. Think of my reviews as the 'Simon Cowell' counterbalance to the meaningless gushing praise for mediocrity that we have too much of here

So then...far be it for me to give anything more than 3 stars for a book. The whole point of my doing this reviewing thing was to name and shame the most awful books that I have the misfortune to come across. But, perhaps it's an opportunity amongst all my negative reviews to bring to people's attention, the occasional really good book. And this is such a rare beast.

Right then...onto the book itself.

Caleb has a very lyrical narrator's voice, pleasing to scan even when he often indulges himself with a lenghy description of a setting or a character. But what really sold this book to me, was the description of the protagonist's investigation into a turn-of-the-century serial killer and the progressive pre-FBI techniques being used by him. Beautifully done that.

Whilst it is a big book and a very sedate read he pulled me, a notoriously impatient reader, through to the very end. And believe me, that is no small achievement.

I decided to give this four stars. I'd have preferred to give it 3.5 stars, but sadly there's no capacity to do that here. Four stars means a book is REALLY REALLY good as far as I'm concerned, and this is NEARLY NEARLY that.
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The Alienist (Laszlo Kreizler & John Schuyler Moore)
The Alienist (Laszlo Kreizler & John Schuyler Moore) by Caleb Carr (Paperback - 6 Jun 2002)
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