The Alienist (Paperback)

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Staff Reviews

Caleb Carr's most famous and successful novel, The Alienist, is a story of 19th Century New York City and its struggle with squalor, violence, madness, vulnerability, and, appropriately, alienation, through a manhunt for a vicious serial killer. A team of police, a journalist, and the titular alienist (an old-timey word for psychologist) develop and use the concept of psychological profiling in the days when fingerprints were still just barely understood. The Alienist is an unforgettable tour of New York at the fin de siecle, from the glittering dining room of Delmonico's to the slimy, dripping underbelly of the old Croton Reservoir.

Picked by Nick T. in Fort Greene

— From Staff Picks


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.

About the Author

CALEB CARR was born in Manhattan and grew up on the Lower East Side, where he still lives.

Praise For…

"You can smell the fear in the air." --The New York Times

"Gripping, atmospheric, intelligent, and entertaining." --USA Today

From the Paperback edition.

Product Details
ISBN: 9780812976144
ISBN-10: 0812976142
Publisher: Random House Trade
Publication Date: October 24th, 2006
Pages: 498
Language: English