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The Alienist: A Novel (Dr. Lazlo Kreizler Book 1) [Kindle Edition]

Caleb Carr
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (761 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $17.00
Kindle Price: $5.99
You Save: $11.01 (65%)
Sold by: Random House LLC

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Book Description

The year is 1896, the place, New York City. On a cold March night New York Times reporter John Schuyler Moore is summoned to the East River by his friend and former Harvard classmate Dr. Laszlo Kreizler, a psychologist, or "alienist." On the unfinished Williamsburg Bridge, they view the horribly mutilated body of an adolescent boy, a prostitute from one of Manhattan's infamous brothels.

        The newly appointed police commissioner, Theodore Roosevelt, in a highly unorthodox move, enlists the two men in the murder investigation, counting on the reserved Kreizler's intellect and Moore's knowledge of New York's vast criminal underworld. They are joined by Sara Howard, a brave and determined woman who works as a secretary in the police department. Laboring in secret (for alienists, and the emerging discipline of psychology, are viewed by the public with skepticism at best), the unlikely team embarks on what is a revolutionary effort in criminology-- amassing a psychological profile of the man they're looking for based on the details of his crimes. Their dangerous quest takes them into the tortured past and twisted mind of a murderer who has killed before. and will kill again before the hunt is over.

        Fast-paced and gripping, infused with a historian's exactitude, The Alienist conjures up the Gilded Age and its untarnished underside: verminous tenements and opulent mansions, corrupt cops and flamboyant gangsters, shining opera houses and seamy gin mills. Here is a New York during an age when questioning society's belief that all killers are born, not made, could have unexpected and mortal consequences.

From the Paperback edition.

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Set in 1896, Carr's novel about a serial killer lose in New York City was a 25-week PW bestseller.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

A serial killer is butchering boy prostitutes in New York City. Police commissioner Theodore Roosevelt enlists a reporter and groundbreaking psychologist (known as an "alienist" in 1896) to track the killer by compiling his psychological profile. The real mystery here, however, lies in finding out what happens in the sections of the novel that were abridged. Who are all these characters? How did they jump to their apparently absurd conclusions? Where is the social history of the city and the celebrity cameos that the printed book's reviewers found so enticing? To judge by the level of suspense reader Edward Hermann can generate during selected passages, this may be a very good novel. Libraries would do best to wait for an unabridged release or stick with the print version.
John Hiett, Iowa City P.L.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Product Details

  • File Size: 597 KB
  • Print Length: 608 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0812976142
  • Publisher: Random House; Reprint edition (October 24, 2006)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B000JMKV9Y
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #14,887 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
222 of 227 people found the following review helpful
Format:Mass Market Paperback
New York City, 1896. A serial killer is on the loose, gruesomely preying upon cross-dressing boy prostitutes. Police detectives are making no progress solving the ghastly crimes. In fact, someone with power or influence seems to be bent on silencing witnesses and thwarting any investigation. Reform-minded police commissioner Theodore Roosevelt (yes, the same TR who later became president), determined to catch the killer, assembles an unconventional group of investigators headed by "alienist" Dr. Lazlo Kreizler. (In the 19th century, when psychology was in its infancy, the mentally ill were considered "alienated" from themselves and society, and the experts who treated them were known as "alienists.")
Dr. Kreizler's team includes his former Harvard classmate, New York Times crime reporter John Moore; Moore's longtime friend, spitfire heiress-turned-NYPD-secretary Sara Hamilton; and two former mental patients who now work as his servants.
To help identify the killer--who leaves behind very few clues, manages to spirit his victims out of locked rooms, and passes through the city unnoticed--the team attempts to develop a psychological profile of the type of person who would be capable of such horrendous deeds. The novelty of their approach does not win them any fans from the mental-health establishment or most NYPD detectives, and throughout the novel, they attempt to keep their involvement secret.
Author Caleb Carr puts his historical background to fascinating use. "The Alienist" is filled with rich details about both the seamier underside and more privileged parts of late-19th-century New York City and the then-novel crime detection techniques.
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70 of 74 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars More Complex Than an Escher Drawing November 26, 2000
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market 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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31 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A mesmerizing tale of criminal profiling and methods! October 23, 2000
By drdebs
Format:Mass Market Paperback
If you want to read a historical mystery that you can't put down, look no further than The Alienist! Set in New York in 1896, Caleb Carr transports the reader to the smells and sights of that period. The reader is whisked away to dine at Delmonico's, sit in box seats at the Opera, and learn about Theodore Roosevelt's efforts to reform the NYC police department.
The Alienist focuses on Dr. Leo Kreiszler and John Schuyler Moore, who Roosevelt calls in to investigate a serial killer who is targeting boy prostitutes. The three men join to put together a top-notch and thoroughly modern investigative team (including one of the first women allowed to work at the Department) to delve into the crimes with a combination of psychological profiling and novel techniques like finger-printing and crime-scene analysis. What I found most fascinating was the insights Carr provides into the formation of criminal science techniques that we now take for granted.
Carr is a gifted writer with the ability to transport you to another time and place within pages. In addition, he knows how to write a good detective thriller. This one of the finest historical mysteries I've ever read and I highly recommend it.
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67 of 81 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Flat March 14, 2005
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Look, I'm seriously in the minority here. But, I think that the writing is flat and dull and that the whole book is tedious. It's at least 200 pages too long. There is some excitement in the final 150 pages, but the payoff is limited at best. Its good points include describing turn of the century NYC in a way that makes life today seem glorious and hopeful. We've come a long way, and Carr does a good job making that clear. But, narrator Moore is a bore; the interesting characters --Cyrus, Stevie, the two detective brothers, Mary--are given short shrift; there is almost no spark between the characters at all.

Carr is a terrific essayist and letter writer. Is that his real gift? To find out, I'd have to read a second novel and I don't know that I'm willing to do that.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars historical armchair tourism meets a rollicking good serial killer...
I can't believe it's taken me this long to finally discover this book, since it's such a classic and exactly what I love to read (crime fiction with great settings and historical... Read more
Published 9 days ago by Patricia Loftfjeld
4.0 out of 5 stars Would like to see the movie if they ever get around ...
Really well written. Would like to see the movie if they ever get around to it.
Published 20 days ago by Jeremiah Roach
5.0 out of 5 stars Good historical fiction!
I do love this book! It's one of those books that are so well-written it creates pictures in your head like a movie. Hard to put down. Read more
Published 20 days ago by The Microbe
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great historical fiction.
Published 22 days ago by Patricia Delahanty
5.0 out of 5 stars Very, very good!
This was a book I just could NOT put down!!! It was not predictable, was very engrossing, and explored the infancy of psychology in a very enlightening way. I really enjoyed it. Read more
Published 23 days ago by Marilyn
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 26 days ago by John MacLeod
5.0 out of 5 stars but like the book very much
Still reading, but like the book very much.
Published 28 days ago by Wild Bill
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastical
I love historical fiction and I love mystery novels. I therefore love this book, it's characters, it's intrigue. Pure pleasure
Published 29 days ago by Claude
5.0 out of 5 stars Historical mystery at its best
Historical accuracy and fantastic mystery combine to make an impressive novel.
Published 1 month ago by M. O. McManis
5.0 out of 5 stars Still a great story.
Read this book many years ago. Time for a reread. Still a great story.
Published 1 month ago by Linda L. Kassarjian
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