Sunday, March 19, 2017

The Alienist

The Alienist by Caleb Carr  496 pp.

Newspaper reporter John Moore joins with "alienist" (aka psychologist) Dr. Laszlo Kreizler to solve a series of brutal mutilations/murders in 1896 New York. During the time when Teddy Roosevelt was NYC Police Commissioner and vainly trying to clean up the corruption in the police force, someone is killing male child prostitutes. The crimes are so horrifying and the victims so scandalous the "respectable" newspapers won't publish articles about them. The boys are ones who cater to a specific type of gentleman: one who likes young boys dressed as girls. The victims are tortured, mutilated, and murdered in horrendous ways. Roosevelt approves of a plan to have Moore and Kreizler investigate without official police sanctions. They are pitted against the city's wealthy elite who want the crimes hushed up, anti-Roosevelt rogue police, and the killer himself. Moore and Kreizler are aided by Kreizler's servants, the Isaacson brothers who had aided Roosevelt in battling corruption, and Sara Howard, the first woman hired by the NYPD albeit as a secretary. This book is a classic, if a bit gory, whodunit. There is a sequel: Angel of Darkness.

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