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.
From the Paperback edition.
Baker & Taylor
When a madman begins stalking victims on the streets of 1896 New York, a team of investigators is forced to apply radical and untested techniques that include fingerprinting and the controversial science of psychology. Reprint. 25,000 first printing.
From Library Staff
A classic of the genre and set in 1896 New York, it follows a team of detectives as they search for a serial murderer using the new methods of fingerprinting and psychology. Look for it's sequel "Angel of Darkness".
From the critics
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Dr. Laszlo Kreizler is a child psychologist who learns of a series of brutal killings in 1896 New York City. Believing that criminal minds can be formed early in childhood, he introduces the idea of profiling. To identify and apprehend the killer, he puts together a team of investigators to delve into the dark underworld of the city, using scientific methods that were state-of-the-art at the time, such as fingerprinting. Told through the eyes of Kreizler's long-time friend and journalist John Schuyler Moore, the detailed description of New York City and its people (including historical figures Theodore Roosevelt and J.P. Morgan) on the verge of the 20th century is clever and entrancing. Those who enjoy Sherlock Holmes will certainly enjoy the cool, calculating Dr. Kreizler, who, as a prophet of 20th forensics, uses science and not just logic, to solve the crime.
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