Book Review

The Alienist – Caleb Carr

Book Title: The Alienist

Series: Dr. Laszlo Kreizeler, #1

Author: Caleb Carr

Goodreads Link: Click here


Star Rating: gold stargold stargold stargold star gold star  – Riveting psychological thriller

If you have a cable subscription you have probably already heard of the new TNT show coming out in late January. It is based on The Alienist by Caleb Carr. Have you seen the trailer? Are you planning to watch? I definitely am. I loved the book, plus *gasp* Luke Evans is in it. Excuse me while I fangirl for a moment.

The Alienist Season One Gallery

(Dakota Fanning, Daniel Brühl, & Luke Evans)


I first read this book back in 1995. It was stunning.  I have long been a fan of all things Victorian, so a psychological thriller based in 1896 New York was right up my alley. The book surprised me a little as it couldn’t have been further from the usual turn of the century thriller.  This is not, Sherlock Holmes or the Moonstone, it presents a far grittier vision of that period in time.

Dr. Kreizler is an “Alienist”, a forerunner of the current day criminal psychologist. Someone has been brutally murdering young boys in New York City and the good Doctor has assembled a team to discover why.  In the hopes that finding out WHY will lead them to the most important truth … WHO. He chooses a team made up of outsiders, people who would not normally be chosen to head an investigation of this import. Two young, unproven Jewish detectives, a profligate newspaper man of privilege, and a bold, brilliant woman.

The author of this book is also a military historian. His knowledge of the time period results in a setting that is incredibly detailed. What sets this book apart is the depth of research the author did in it’s writing. The intense corruption of law enforcement agencies, the power of crime syndicates in the city, and rigid social structures hamper the investigation at every turn. The author shines a light on the societal issues surrounding the abuse of children and child sex trafficking as well as the expected persistent misogyny and racism that are a hallmark of that time. This is the rare thriller that gives the reader a lot to think about.

If you’re squeamish  then this book is not for you. It is unflinching in its depiction of violence and abuse. If you can put that aside, then you’re in for a treat. I found it fascinating.  I’m definitely watching the show (Luke Evans 😉) and I hope you’ll pick up the book too!



One thought on “The Alienist – Caleb Carr

  1. I like this book also and got a kick out of Teddy Roosevelt being the NYC Police Commissioner. I’m looking forward to the TV series.

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