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The Alienist by Caleb Carr
Thriller

The Alienist

by Caleb Carr

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Quick take

A near perfect specimen of a rare literary breed '“ a historical mystery told so well it could be mistaken for fact.

Why I love it

This modern classic is a near-perfect specimen of a rare literary breed—a historical mystery told so well it could be mistaken for fact. With a history book’s exactitudeThe Alienist features the unpolished, early years of two of the greatest and most contradictory characters in American History: Teddy Roosevelt and New York City. Police commissioner Teddy, together with an Alienist—an early word for a psychiatrist—attempt to hunt down a serial killer targeting 'boy' prostitutes. The hunt is a Holmesian fusion of fast-paced thriller and intellectual criminal investigation, which takes place in the raw and gruesome underbelly of New York in 1896. Enjoy.

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Member ratings (3,009)

  • Jessica R.

    Wallkill , NY

    Very long, wordy and slow book. But I really loved the characters and I was into the storyline. Unlike any book I’ve ever read and I’m happy I read it even if it took me a long time to get through it.

  • Haley H.

    Sunnyside, NY

    Setting is 1896 NYC, so it’s an especially interesting read if you’re an NYC resident. History of vice commerce and vivid depictions of tenements is almost as shocking as the actual murder mystery.

  • Erin K.

    Tucson, AZ

    I completely devoured this book! The perfect mix of history, true crime & psychology. The characters were so well developed & I'm still crying over some of them. Caleb Carr is BAE – yas to the sequel!

  • Claudia M.

    Birmingham, AL

    I don’t usually go for books like this & at times writing style was difficult but I really loved this book! I was thoroughly engrossed & entertained. Love the historical fiction element & characters!

  • Kelly D.

    Jenkintown , PA

    A historical fiction that felt sooo real with a heavy dose of forensic psych, which I find fascinating. The character development was great too- I felt like they were old friends by the story’s end.

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