Sunday, October 30, 2011

"The alienist is no joke - He finds you cracked and leaves you broke." Keith Preston

In 1896, John Schuyler Moore, crime reporter for the "New York Times" is urgently called to the scene of a murdered adolescent boy in the east side of Manhattan. He had been summoned by his friend, Dr. Laslo Kreizler, a psychologist - or alienist.

At this time, Kreizler and Moore's friend, Throdore Roosevelt was the newly appointed police commissioner. They observe the murdered adolencent's being dressed like a girl and Roosevelt informs them that this is the third such victim and the crimes weren't publicized because they were all poor and no one cared what happened to them.

With rampant corruption in the police department and the idea that some police were taking payoffs from criminals, Roosevelt sets up a private task force to investigate and stop the killer. In the task force are Lazlo, Moore, his friend, Sara Howard, an independently minded woman who was a secretary in the police and two honest and intelligent police officers, Lucus and Marcus Isaacson.

The reader delights in the descriptions of New York around the beginning of the last century. The characters eat at Delmonico's Restaurant where notables such as Diamond Jim Brady and Lillian Russell dine. They describe the setting while passing such historic places such as Wanamakers Department store and Grace Church.

This police procedural is skillfully done with a huge cast of characters, many who were taken from the pages of history. The author also informs the readers of such advances as the new use of finger prints and criminal profiling. Caleb Carr is from the area where the story unfolds and his creative vision and research is evident.

"The Alieniest" is an authentic story that will transport the reader to a wonderful time in history and as I was enjoying the book, it was as if I was experiencing an episode of Walter Cronkite's TV show of the '70s, "You Are There."


Mary said...

Nice review.

kimyunalesca said...

Thanks for sharing your thoughts I like the title very interesting and intriguing I'll try to look for a copy take care and keep up the good reviews ^_^

mike draper said...

Thanks Mary and Lady Kim.
I appreciate your comments and interest in my reviews.

Sally Bibrary said...

Very well said, Mike - I loved this, although I've heared his subsequent novels haven't quite managed to recapture the magic.

Anonymous said...

I have had this book on my TBR mountain for some time. Like many other books, the time just hasn't been right to read it. It sounds like a good story with interesting characters. Thanks for the review. I'll have to move the book a bit higher in the mountain.

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