The finest writing, to my mind, is that which uses one's mind. Caleb Carr fully engages the minds of his readers by expertly plumbing the minds of his characters, including a chillingly twisted mind, that of a serial killer. Mr Carr invites his readers to sort out details, to route out clues, to struggle along with the protagonist, New York Times writer John Moore, as he devises a method in which to trap a man who has killed, and who will kill again, before captured finally within the breathless climax. To capture this killer, John Moore utilises psychology, a science which in 1896, the year this novel transpires, was brand new, untried, and popularly maligned. To help him along in this is Laszlo Kreizler, the Alienist, a practitioner of psychology during a time when the mind remained the domain of myth, misunderstanding, and the property of a Higher Power. Battling corruption and ignorance, John Moore, under Kreizler's tutelage, rallies an investigation that plows new ground in crime fighting history. These men are splendid and admirably portrayed, however, I admired especially the female liason, if simply for the fact that Mr Carr included an intelligent, independent woman character within a late 19th-century setting, a time almost universally unkind toward women, wherein they were relegated to the lower ranks, and regrettably dismissed to forgettable subservient roles.