Just finished this one. It's a murder mystery set in 1895 in New York City. Good book - very vivid descriptions of the city. It's not a drawing-room mystery. It's more like a Tom Clancy novel than an Agatha Christie. The quarry is a serial killer who begins to prey on underage cross-dressing male prostitutes and leaves their bodies all over town. The investigators are a varied lot including Theodore Roosevelt (police commissioner of New York City at the time); a female aspiring policeman; the narrator, a reporter; and the psychologist or 'alienist' of the title. Their unique approach to the crime is to use the new field of psychology to construct a portrait of the killer, in effect 'profiling' him. Excellent writing, well-paced, great characters. I was impressed by the way the author handled the first person narration. Recommend.-mapletree
I read that and its sequel, both of them were very good.
mapletree - Thanks for the recommendation. I've put this on my "To Read" list. It sounds like the kind of book I would enjoy.
Good book - very vivid descriptions of the city. It's not a drawing-room mystery. It's more like a Tom Clancy novel than an Agatha Christie. ... Excellent writing, well-paced, great characters. I was impressed by the way the author handled the first person narration. I read it all the way thru, so I guess I enjoyed it somewhat: but my lasting impression is one of irritation at the book. I sort of thought it was a knockoff, Sherlock Holmes meets The Silence of the Lambs. It gives the promise of being superbly researched, but Theodore Roosevelt's inclusion seems more like a gimmick than a necessary story point. I'd rather have the originals: Sherlock Holmes is so much better, and so in its way is Silence. Somehow, the book neither acknowledged nor transcended the work that had gone before, work to which Carr clearly owed a huge debt.My impression, anyway.Jimcurmudgeon
Supposedly The Alienist is a dramatization of the real beginnings of profiling as a forensic tool.In that sense, I dug it.6
I think it was very interesting and entertaining, not a great work of literature, but a damned good read. I do agree it was derivative of the Sherlock Holmes books, but if an author keeps the pages turning I don't care if he cribs from another author.It is similar (but superior to) a lot of the "Sherlock Holmes" books that are being written by authors, I think it is called a "pastiche" or something like that.There was a really good one I read, called "The List of 7" if I remember correctly, maybe four years ago. I like the "Sherlock Holmes" style books and see no reason for authors to discontinue writing them just because the original author is long dead.
I just finished "Killing Time" by Caleb Carr and it was one of the silliest wastes of time I have read in quite awhile. Has anyone else read this book? I know several of you liked "The Alienist". Was that just a MUCH better book, or am I going to dislike that one as well. I know some authors write some good books and some bad books. For some, it is just a matter of taste. "The Alienist" sounds like a story I would like, but if he writes no better than he did in "Killing Time", then I don't want to bother. So who has read both books and what did YOU think of each?
I loved The Alienist and its sequel, but when Killing Time came out I passed it by.The Alienist is a straightforward serial killer/mystery, except set in early 1900s.
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