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The Alienist

(Dr. Laszlo Kreizler #1)

4.06  ·  Rating details ·  128,051 ratings  ·  6,213 reviews

Some things never change.

New York City, 1896. Hypocrisy in high places is rife, police corruption commonplace, and a brutal killer is terrorising young male prostitutes. Unfortunately for Police Commissioner Theodore Roosevelt, the psychological profiling of murderers is a practice still in its infancy, struggling to make headway against the prejudices of those who prefer

Kindle Edition, 544 pages
Published August 24th 2017 by Mulholland Books (first published December 15th 1994)
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Roberta TNT is producing a mini-series of the novel for 2016; no cast yet, but should be announced soon so watch the internet. I think it will translate great…moreTNT is producing a mini-series of the novel for 2016; no cast yet, but should be announced soon so watch the internet. I think it will translate great to screen and a mini-series may be better than a movie as gives them more time to flesh out all of the characters. Should be grand!(less)
Joe Burleigh Mr. Carr had published some successful non-fiction works and his publisher didn't want him attempting a novel. He pitched the idea of the story as…moreMr. Carr had published some successful non-fiction works and his publisher didn't want him attempting a novel. He pitched the idea of the story as true but said that he wanted to publish it in novel form. The picture you see in the back of the book is a shot that he made to help sell his idea. The photo is actually a cut out of composer Edvard Grieg copied onto a picture of Roosevelt. With that fake picture and a real historical figure in Teddy Roosevelt, he was able to fool his agent and editor into believing it was a true story. When he admitted it was a fictional story, they took a chance, published it, and it became a best seller. (less)
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Community Reviews

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4.06  · 
Rating details
 ·  128,051 ratings  ·  6,213 reviews

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Paul Bryant
I don’t know about your shelves but my shelves of unread books have become clogged with novels I thought I wanted to read five or six years ago and now I can’t remember why I thought I wanted to read them and since I’ve now read all the ones I could remember why I wanted to read them I’m left with this scurvy crew, and there they are, glaring at me and muttering hey, you, get with the program, read me. And some turn on the waterworks and cry out beseechingly ohhh please mister, I’ve been so pati ...more
Jeffrey Keeten
***New TV series based on the book is showing on TNT and launching January 22nd, 2018.***

”I caught a vague glimpse of human flesh glowing in the moonlight. We took a few steps closer, and then I made out plainly the figure of a naked young boy on his knees. His hands had been bound behind his back, causing his head to rest on the stone surface of the promenade, and his feet were similarly tied. A gag had been wrapped around his head, holding his painted mouth open at a painful angle. His face wa
This book was FIZZING which, according to my 19th Century Art of Manliness glossary, means excellent, top notch. Well, fizzing it was. Through most of this book, I had it rated at 5.0 stars as I was absolutely captivated by the writing, the characters and the plot and loved how they were all deftly tethered to a great depiction of late 19th Century everyday life.

I would describe this as a psychological thriller and detective mystery set in the 1890's and blending a Sherlock Holmes type investig
Update: I am so excited. I just found out there's going to be a Tv series after the novel. Here is the trailer and it looks amazing with a great cast. Can't wait.

I realized that I can usually feel a 5* book from the first 50 pages. There is something in the author’s voice that gets to me. The same thing happened with The Alienist. It just had me at hello.

The novel is historical fiction written by a non-fiction author. Although I could feel that background
"In this battle, there are many enemies."

And that's an understatement.......The darkly moving shadows seeking oblivion, nameless figures shapeshifting in back alleys and roof tops. The click of heels down rain-soaked streets leading to nowhere and to everywhere. Secrets until they are no longer.

New York City in 1896 is a mecca for the meaningful and the meaningless. Police Commissioner Theodore Roosevelt has been faced with the dregs of society: thieves, murderers, brutalizers, and sexual devian
Bobby Underwood
Oct 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Caleb Carr's novel of a serial killer on the loose in turn of the century New York, and the dangerous pursuit of him by Dr. Lazlo Kreizler and his friends is a truly wonderful read. This has so much period atmosphere the reader can almost hear the hoofbeats trotting over the cobblestone streets beneath gaslit street lamps. It is long and exciting, yet not long enough, because by the time you finish, you'll feel like many of these people are your friends, and want to spend more time with them.

mark monday
Aug 03, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I guess I just need more than a mammoth miniseries version of a steampunk-era CSI episode. I've never enjoyed that show - what little I've watched of it - because the minutia of forensic science and criminal psychology utterly bore me when they are not tied to interesting themes, characters with depth, or a rich atmosphere. the entirely insipid protagonist made me entirely frustrated. the pedestrian prose made me want to scream. the fact that the cover is the most evocative thing about a novel t ...more
Jan 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lets-get-real, i-said, lod, top
Prior to the twentieth century, persons suffering from mental illness were thought to be “alienated”, not only from the rest of society but from their own true natures. Those experts who studied mental pathologies were therefore know as alienists.

At two a.m. on March 3rd, 1896 someone comes pounding on the door of John Moore’s grandmother’s house in New York City. Not drunk, nor particularly sober, when called from his bed, John is immediately whisked away by carriage, to the site of the still
May 12, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I tend not to like historical fiction, but this one blew me away. I challenge any thriller-and-suspense lover to try this book and not get hooked by the end of the first chapter. Fabulous.
Matthew Quann
Five Questions to Help Decide if You Should Read Caleb Carr's The Alienist

1) Do you love a good thriller?

Because what you might find between the covers of this book is a story that is anything but your typical thriller. Though it contains many frights, twists, and tense moments, the pace is much different from your standard fare. Carr chooses to unfold the tale of the shocking murders of child prostitutes as a journey of almost-academic discovery led by the Sherlock-esque Laszlo Kreizler. Though
May 06, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kobo
The television series is on "my list" for Netflix and like any reader, I must read the book first. Well, I am now a Dr. Laslo Kreizler fan or should I be more accurate and state that I am a big fan of the pairing between Lazlo and the narrator of the story, crime reporter, John Schyuler Moore. This 19th century mystery about a serial killer hunting down young boys is not for the faint hearted. But oh my goodness, it's incredibly hard to put aside!
LeAnne: GeezerMom
To paraphrase Jules from Pulp Fiction, "Say Marches Carcano chair one more time...." BAM!

Sorry. My tolerance for the repeated naming of the characters' fabulous Italian chairs, bought at auction, was shot by the fifth time the overinflated verbiage was used. I don't know, maybe the writer - a history buff - made this furniture up based on a famous murder weapon. A Carcano was what was used to kill JFK, if you didn't know. Anyway, I was ready to fire a gun into these ridiculous chairs myself.

Nov 21, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

4.5 stars

New York City in 1896 isn't the nicest place to live. Outside of the ritzy neighborhoods the apartment buildings are shabby, overcrowded, and smelly; the streets are dirty and dangerous; and whore houses of every kind are prolific and unregulated. Moreover criminals operate freely and government agencies and police are largely corrupt. To add to the city's problems a serial killer is murdering and mutilating children, mostly young boy prostitutes who dress up as girls. The murderer goug
Dalton Lynne
If I had to sum up The Alienist with one word it would be this: plodding. The description of the book on Goodreads calls it 'fast-paced'. False advertising right there! Fast-paced it most certainly was not. LOL

The book was a bit of a disappointment in various ways.

One, I didn't feel much of an emotional connection with the main characters. I don't know why ... whether it was the author's writing style, the time period, or what. But I just wasn't drawn in to their world or their personalities. I
Nick Pageant
I just watched the trailer for the series of this being put out by TNT. I thought I would post a bit of a review to try and bring some attention to the book while everyone still has time to read it.

This book is fantastic! Anyone who knows me knows that I'm an extremely slow reader, but not with this. I burned through it each time I read it (I think I'm up to three.) The murders are gruesome, the characters are delightful, and, most special of all, the sense of time and place are so well-drawn t
Oct 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: best-of-2017
Done!!! I LOOVED this Sherlock Holmesian historical fiction thriller set in 1890's New York city. I wanted to get it read before the TNT series starts January 22 - it looks so good! I hope they don't ruin it by making too many changes to the story or the characters. Keeping my fingers crossed - the cast is great!

If, like me, you haven't read this 1994 classic yet, I highly recommend it! Great plot, characters and a wonderful glimpse of Gilded Age New York.

LD  Durham
Jan 30, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: general-fiction
I really liked this book. At first, I was a bit disoriented, and really, I blame my own sloppy brain for that. It’s been over a decade that I actually read literature instead of trashy romance novels and/or Internet fan fiction. So when I first started this one, I was in awe of its many syllabic words. I nearly put it down, deciding that my brain had flared out like a star many years ago and had permanently rotted away. But, no! I was able to catch on and looked forward to reading more and more. ...more
Patricia Williams
Dec 07, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a very interesting, very thick book. Lots of history and lots of information about forensic psychology and ways to hunt for a serial killer. Lots of good characters including Theodore Roosevelt. It was a long read but I did enjoy it and wanted to read it before the TV series starts in the new year. I think this is a series so I will certainly want to read more. I do become very attached to the main characters. Won't give anything away about the storyline but by second half of book I was ...more

The Alienist by Caleb Carr is a clever combination of a historical, psychological and crime thriller novel. Embedded in a specific time and place, New York, 1896, focuses not only on solving gruesome crimes but also, perhaps even in the first place, finding a satisfactory answer what shaped the perpetrator and made him the man he became.

After a series of brutal killings of boys prostitutes a specific team is formed to capture and stop the murderer. Journalist John Moore, two Jewish investigator
Feb 25, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“Familiar conceptions die hard, and their passage can be damned disorienting.”

“The Alienist” is a book I read in a week, and enjoyed a lot while I was reading it. The prose is not especially great, and I do not necessarily think that it has much thematic depth. It is just a nice literary historical thriller, and I enjoyed that about it.
Some quibbles: it is decently written, although the dialogue can be stilted. I think this was deliberate on the author’s part to create the cadence and style of t
This book has so many elements that my twisted little brain loves: Gilded Age New York, historical elements intertwined with the fictional aspects, a serial killer... While this story takes place in Edith Wharton’s New York, a sordid murder investigation takes us places her characters wouldn’t be caught dead in: the underground world of the “flesh trade” and the lunatics’ asylums! The mutilated body of a young “rent boy” is found on the construction site of the Williamsburg bridge, prompting pol ...more
Julio Genao
for the NYC nerd: yes. for everyone else: no.

i liked reading about old new york more than i liked reading about any of the people in it.

historian win;

author fail.
Mar 17, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a clever piece of historical fiction that tickled my interests in both psychology and crime stories.

I listened to this on audio, read by the incomparable George Guidall, and enjoyed the story of police detectives, a reporter and a psychologist (called an Alienist back then) trying to track down a serial killer who was targeting boy prostitutes. The prose isn't perfect — at times the author was guilty of info-dumping details of his historical research — but the story clips along at a good
Sep 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this story very much! From the characters to the plot to the setting it was all very much to my liking!
Apr 18, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery-thriller
I found The Alienist to be a fascinating and exciting read. This historical fiction takes place in New York City just before the turn of the century and revolves around the activities of one of the first forensic investigations in world history. To try and catch a serial killer targeting young boys, a team of unlikely allies are pulled together by none other than Theodore Roosevelt, then a NY City Police commissioner. The team quickly discover that to solve this case will require them to researc ...more
Feb 22, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4 stars

A Historical Fiction detective crime thriller mystery with a twist of Holmes? I am not a Sherlock reader, but I imagine they probably read something like this. It was fascinating to be reading about suspect profiling and 'building a case' in a time when cars were still a horse and cart, fingerprint reading was deemed to be a dubious way to collect evidence and women were perfect for secretarial roles but not detective work. Go Sara!

I detracted a star because there was just way too much su
Prior to the twentieth century, people suffering from mental illness were thought to be "alienated" from their true nature. Experts in the study of mental pathologies were known as Alienist.

I first heard of this book last year when I heard it was becoming a tv show on TNT, I intended to read it then but just never got around to it. Earlier this year I watched the first episode of the show and found it visually stunning. So like any normal person I decided not to watch another episode until I ha
Fuchsia  Groan
1896, Nueva York. El alienista Laszlo Kreizler, el periodista y narrador de esta historia John Schuyler Moore y Sarah Howard, secretaria de Theodore Roosevelt en el departamento de policía, harán frente a la búsqueda contrareloj de un misterioso asesino en serie que ha mutilado brutalmente a varios niños que ejercen la prostitución en las calles de Manhattan.

Personalmente, y como fan en mi adolescencia de la generación beat (fundamentalmente de Jack Kerouac), me ha llamado poderosamente la atenc
colleen the convivial curmudgeon
I found out after I finished the book that Caleb Carr started off by writing historical non-fiction and that he even first pitched this book as non-fiction, afraid that his editor and publisher wouldn't accept a work of fiction from a non-fiction writer.

I mention this because I feel that his background in non-fiction shows through in the writing style - including the descriptions of the city and places in the city itself which I felt were more textbook than evocative. (Granted, judging by the re
Jun 16, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018, stars-4-0
As historical crime novels go, I’d say this title is definitely one of the best. It blipped on my reading radar while I was searching books on criminology and profilers. Carr’s novel immediately piqued my interest since he set his story in the New York of the late 19th century, the city becoming a character in its own right. And what a dark and fascinating world this is!!

A killer is preying on adolescent boy prostitutes but since these belong to the city’s underprivileged, no one cares. That is
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Caleb Carr is an American novelist and military historian. The son of Lucien Carr, a former UPI editor and a key Beat generation figure, he was born in Manhattan and lived for much of his life on the Lower East Side. He attended Kenyon College and New York University, earning a B.A. in military and diplomatic history. He is a contributing editor of MHQ: The Quarterly Journal of Military History an ...more

Other books in the series

Dr. Laszlo Kreizler (3 books)
  • The Angel of Darkness (Dr. Laszlo Kreizler, #2)
  • The Alienist at Armageddon (Dr. Laszlo Kreizler, #3)
“The defenders of decent society and the disciples of degeneracy are often the same people.” 50 likes
“Imagine, [Kriezler] said, that you enter a large, somewhat crumbling hall that echoes with the sounds of people mumbling and talking repetitively to themselves. All around you these people fall into prostrate positions, some of them weeping. Where are you? Sara’s answer was immediate: in an asylum. Perhaps, Kreizler answered, but you could also be in a church. In the one place the behavior would be considered mad; in the other, not only sane, but as respectable as any human activity can be.” 23 likes
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