The Alienist

5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5) The Alienist – Caleb Carr

This was my second time reading this psychological thriller/mystery written by Caleb Carr. The first time I read it was a few years back before the TNT mini series came out and I remember loving it then and being very excited for the tv show to come out. Obviously, the show wasn’t as good as the book but I thought they did an acceptable job of portraying the story in the limited time/format of a mini series. But, the book is much more in depth and I highly recommend picking it up!

The story takes place in New York City at the turn of the century (1890’s) and the author does a fantastic job of incorporating historical information about the city seamlessly into the narrative. Additionally, Carr places the story into the tumultuous situation with the NYC police being under investigation for corruption and the people working to weed out the problem officers. This sets the stage for a ‘rogue’ investigation into the murders of several young male prostitutes. 

The ‘rogue’ investigating team consists of a psychologist (a little known/understood science at the time), a newspaper reporter, a female police secretary (an oddity for certain), and two young, Jewish, police officers who utilize scientific means to uncover clues and evidence. As you would expect, the team encounters various hurdles and dangers to overcome throughout the story but the most interesting aspect of the story for me was Carr’s ability to incorporate the skepticism towards psychological investigations that today would be considered ‘common operating procedure.’  

Caleb Carr’s mix of mystery, psychological investigation, and history all combine to create an interesting and intricate narrative that I know I will come back to again and again. 

Read on my friends!

-Haddi encourages you to support local, small, independent bookstores whenever possible. If you would like to purchase online while still supporting independent bookstores, please consider purchasing from

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