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Alienist [Paperback]

4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (402 customer reviews)

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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Like GANGS OF NEW YORK crossed with SE7EN June 16 2004
Format:Mass Market Paperback
An Alienist was an old term to describe a psychiatrist (a person who studies alienated people) and given that the start of the nineteen hundreds was to turn medical science on its head, this little tale takes us back to the origins of how and why it changed, by developing the process of psychiatry (or to be more precise behavioral science) with the analysis of a story about a Serial Killer roaming the rooftops of New York City, to murder and disfigure male child prostitutes that he has kidnapped for some strange reason, told through the eyes of New York Times journalist - John Moore, as he recalls this period of his life and which he wishes to commit to the page.
Moore is called to a crime scene by a friend of his, Dr. Laszlo Kreizler, the Alienist, to help him with an enquiry. They hook up with the police commissioner, Theodore Roosevelt and Sara Howard, the first woman police officer in New York, to investigate the murders along with two 'new age' brother detectives with a scientific bent - Marcus and Lucius. The problem is that the city does not care about the murder of child prostitutes, new policing techniques and Dr. Kreizler has some unorthodox views about metal illness that do not get him much respect in the city. Using Kreizler's ideas about the psychology of the killer the team decides to "profile" the killer to see if they can track him down before he commits the next murder. The Alienist - for all intensive purposes - is about the complex process of developing that profile and this is where the strength of the book really is and is main reason why you will enjoy reading it.
Apart from that deductive element The Alienist is really a run-of-the-mill "hunt the serial killer" type clichéd material.
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4.0 out of 5 stars The Alienist, by Caleb Carr July 11 2004
Format:Mass Market Paperback
The Alientist, by Caleb Carr, is one of the most unique novels you are likely to read. Although it could be termed a mystery, I think it works better as historical fiction. Anyone disappointed with the recent film Gangs of New York should look to this book as more interesting historical fictional set in 1800s New York. Unlike that movie, however, this book really conveys a sense of old time New York during the turn of the century. But the setting does not dominate the novel, rather it serves as a striking backdrop for the considerable story, using such real life characters as Theodore Roosevelt. J.P. Morgan and Anthony Comstock (whose ancestors also appear in the similarly themed Quicksilver, by Neal Stevenson) also make brief apperances. As with Quicksilver, the settings and characters compliment the plot, using it to examine philosophical and religious issues, a trait not commonly found in typical mysteries. The end result that the main thrust of the plot (i.e. the search for a serial killer) takes on greater meaning, in its attempt to show the difficulties faced by attempting to reconcile civilization's greater struggles with that of the (seemingly insignificant) individual.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Satisfying June 21 2004
Format:Mass Market Paperback
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.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A worth-while mystery-thriller April 30 2004
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This book moved a little slow for me through oh, say - the first half of the book. Mostly it's an introduction to the characters who are grouped together by Police Commissioner Theodore Roosevelt (yes, the President Roosevelt of Teddy Bear fame) to solve the murders of child hustlers in the late 1800's New York. But, when the action picks up - it does so with great alacrity! This is definitely a worth-while mystery-thriller to read - the history is well researched and you can nearly smell the stench of the streets of the 1890s.
Narrated by investigative journalist John Schuyler Moore, we get to participate in the investigation with Dr. Laszlo Kreizler, the "alienist" as psychiatrists were known then, Miss Sarah Howard, Teddy Roosevelt's assistant, Stevie Taggart, Dr. Kreizler's servant, and two New York City police detective brothers.
The best part of this book is knowing that the characters have been established and you can move on to the next book, The Angel of Darkness, which, in my opinion, is a much better, faster- moving read.
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Most recent customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars a lot of detail somewhat boring @ first
It was slow at the first several chapters, a lot of detail somewhat boring @ first. after the 1st 3rd of the book, it got more interesting
Published 19 days ago by Cynthia Chan
3.0 out of 5 stars It's a great, long
It's a great, long, criminal epic. I had a great journey reading it. It made me really want to eat french, multi-coursed meals too. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Shesophist
5.0 out of 5 stars A great read!
It was a real page turner, with great real historical characters, and convincing fictional characters. I loved it.
Published 2 months ago by Beverly Cameron
4.0 out of 5 stars Very detailed...maybe a little too detailed?
The only reason I gave this book a 4 was because it tended to drag on a little. Other than that this book was probably one of the most detailed I have ever read. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Maria Casacalenda
4.0 out of 5 stars The Alienist - A NOel.
Enjoyable historic fiction Novel but, quite wordy! I thought it was worth the long read a small diverse group trying to solve the murders of young boys who choose a life of male... Read more
Published 5 months ago by Ken Foxcroft
4.0 out of 5 stars A slightly different New York
One of the most well-researched, intelligently written books of historical fiction on the shelves. Carr not only utilizes the budding sciences of criminal psychology and... Read more
Published on June 26 2004 by cyberpsycho
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Book-graphic parts can make it hard to stomach
Caleb Carr's The Alienist explores the process of tracking a killer in the 1890's. Without the use of high-tech "CSI" tools, Dr. Read more
Published on May 25 2004 by Cash Money
5.0 out of 5 stars the alienist, positively alienates any other book!
i must say, i read this book for a school assignment my junior year in high school, but found that it quickly became my favorite book that i've yet read. Read more
Published on May 12 2004 by bob
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! Read more
Published on April 10 2004 by Christoph Strizik
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