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The Alienist

by Caleb Carr

Library Journal A society-born police reporter and an enigmatic abnormal psychologist--the ``alienist'' of the title--are recruited in 1896 by New York's reform police commissioner Teddy Roosevelt to track down a serial killer who is slaughtering boy prostitutes. The investigators are opposed at every step by crime bosses and the city's hidden rulers (including J. Pierpont Morgan); they distrust the alienist's novel methods and would rather conceal evidence of the murders than court publicity. Tension builds as the detectives race to prevent more deaths. From this improbable brew, historian-novelist Carr ( The Devil Soldier , Random, 1991) has fashioned a knockout period mystery, infused with intelligence, vitality, and humor. This novel is a highly unorthodox variant of the Holmes-Watson theme and the best since Julian Symons's delightful A Three-Pipe Solution . It should entice new fans to the genre. Recommended. Literary Guild featured selection; Doubleday Book Club Selection; previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 12/93.-- David Keymer, California State Univ., Stanislaus

Copyright Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Book list Transvestite boy prostitutes lie in the cross~hairs of this mystery's homicidal maniac, and bringing to brook the killer's depredations is the job of Theodore Roosevelt, New York's police chief in 1896. TR doesn't trust his corrupt department with the case and so enlists an informal task force consisting of psychologist Kreizler (in the day's jargon, the alienist of the title), crime beat reporter Moore (the tale's narrator), and assorted gumshoes and gophers. Appearing at cameo intervals, TR once makes the profile-clinching suggestion that the sicko is acquainted with the Sioux style of mutilation. With that idea, Moore and Kreizler unlock the case, eventually cornering their prey atop a water reservoir. Despite its unwieldy elements, flat characters, and excess palaver among them, this story boasts a veracious historical feel and a tight plot that keeps open the murderer's identity to the end. An original that fits no established mystery niche, Carr's fictional debut could be the start of something big. ~--Gilbert Taylor

From Booklist, Copyright American Library Association. Used with permission.

Library Journal Historian Carr hits the big time with this story, set in 1890s New York, of a journalist who joins the hunt for a serial killer. Paramount Pictures has bought the film rights, and the first printing is huge .

Copyright Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.