Suspense Sunday #19: The Alienist by Caleb Carr

Every Sunday I feature a title from an often overlooked genre: Suspense!These are books I’ve read and highly recommend to anyone that loves agood mystery or crime story, sometimes with a little humor thrown in!

Today’s feature title is: The Alienist by Caleb Carr 

Synopsis: 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. 
My take: The Alienist is what sold me on historical mysteries, hands down. I actually picked up this book on the dollar shelf at Half Price Books, not expecting much, and wow, was I wrong! It took me back to 1896 New York, to the back allies and bawdy houses, and into a very dark and sinister part of the human heart. John Moore and Dr. Kreizler are amazing characters and the author’s writing will hook you and keep you reading late into the night. I lost a lot of sleep with this one. Also, if you love this one, be sure to check out The Angel of Darkness, the 2nd book in this great series! 

Visit, a great looking site, and an amazing resource for these novels and the author! 
Purchase The Alienist: Amazon | Barnes and Noble

Immediate gratification: Kindle | Nook


  1. Hum–Historical Suspense–gonna try and find and read this one–thank you for the review!!

    Michele aka MikiHope

  2. I have seen this one on some lists on Goodreads. I will definitely have to add this one to the list! :0)

  3. I am adding it too – sounds really well!

  4. As the Crowe Flies and Reads

    I listened to this book on audio and thought it was very good–and so was Carr's other historical suspense fiction, Angel of Darkness.

  5. Offbeat Vagabond

    Thanks so much hon. I don't think I have ever read an historical suspense before, but this sounds great. I love finding books that cause me to lose sleep, that's when you know you have a winner. Great review hon, thank you 🙂

  6. I read "The Alienist" years ago, and loved it. [Note to self: add it to my Goodreads list!] I also enjoyed "Angel of Darkness," which has the added bonus of taking place at least partially in the Saratoga, NY area, which is about 20 minutes south of my home! With Carr's attention to historical detail, I was able to learn some interesting stuff about the area.

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