The Alienist

The Alienist

Book - 1994
Average Rating:
Rate this:
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER * NOW A TNT ORIGINAL SERIES * "A first-rate tale of crime and punishment that will keep readers guessing until the final pages."-- Entertainment Weekly

"Caleb Carr's rich period thriller takes us back to the moment in history when the modern idea of the serial killer became available to us."-- The Detroit News

When The Alienist was first published in 1994, it was a major phenomenon, spending six months on the New York Times bestseller list, receiving critical acclaim, and selling millions of copies. This modern classic continues to be a touchstone of historical suspense fiction for readers everywhere.

The year is 1896. The city is New York. Newspaper reporter John Schuyler Moore is summoned by his friend Dr. Laszlo Kreizler--a psychologist, or "alienist"--to view the horribly mutilated body of an adolescent boy abandoned on the unfinished Williamsburg Bridge. From there the two embark on a revolutionary effort in criminology: creating a psychological profile of the perpetrator based on the details of his crimes. Their dangerous quest takes them into the tortured past and twisted mind of a murderer who will kill again before their hunt is over.

Fast-paced and riveting, infused with historical detail, The Alienist conjures up Gilded Age New York, with its tenements and mansions, corrupt cops and flamboyant gangsters, shining opera houses and seamy gin mills. It is an age in which questioning society's belief that all killers are born, not made, could have unexpected and fatal consequences.

Praise for The Alienist

"[A] delicious premise . . . Its settings and characterizations are much more sophisticated than the run-of-the-mill thrillers that line the shelves in bookstores." -- The Washington Post Book World

"Mesmerizing." -- Detroit Free Press

"The method of the hunt and the disparate team of hunters lift the tale beyond the level of a good thriller--way beyond. . . . A remarkable combination of historical novel and psychological thriller." -- The Buffalo News

"Engrossing." -- Newsweek

"Gripping, atmospheric . . . intelligent and entertaining." -- USA Today

"A high-spirited, charged-up and unfailingly smart thriller." -- Los Angeles Times

"Keeps readers turning pages well past their bedtime." -- San Francisco Chronicle
Publisher: New York : Random House, 1994.
Edition: 1st ed.
ISBN: 9780525510277
Branch Call Number: FICTION Carr Caleb
Characteristics: 496 p. ;,25 cm.


From Library Staff

One of the towers of modern historical fiction, this tale of a psychologist and a group of friends tracking down a killer in 1890s New York City. (Avoid the sequels!)

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 th... Read More »

Carr's novel about a serial killer lose in New York City in 1896.

From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment
Jan 02, 2021

Historical fiction mystery detailing the beginnings of psychological profiling of a serial killer. Our protagonists face their own personal tragedies amidst the social and police corruption in late 19th century Manhattan.

Excellent story-telling and character development. 5/5.

Nov 19, 2020

Excellent read

CCPL_Theresa Aug 21, 2020

This fast-paced atmospheric novel takes place during the Gilded Age in New York City combining both the upper class extravagances and the poorly squalor of the time. A serial killer has been targeting boy prostitutes. Dr. Laszlo Kreizler, a psychologist, or “alienist” with his ragtag crew go about solving the murders with help of early forensics and criminology. If you are looking for a dark murder mystery/investigative procedural this is the series for you. Once you’ve read the book I recommend watching the TV series.

Oct 09, 2019

I found this book by watching the show of the same name. And let me just say that I am a sucker for historical dramas and mystery in general. The way it describes the struggle of late 1800s New York and how the psychological aspect of how certain events can shape you into the person you are today. The story line will leave you on the edge of your seat, wondering why the people in the story do what they do and how it will affect everyone. The alienist truly is one of the best mystery/thriller novels I have ever read. But I will say the concept of the mystery and who is involved is highly disturbing. (3.5/5 stars)
- @katxkatina of The Hamilton Public Library's Teen Review Board

May 29, 2019

get audio download from KCLS

May 24, 2019

I watched the tv series on TNT and really enjoyed it, but couldn't get in to the book. I made it to about page 100 and gave up. I lost interest as the story line started very slow. Also, my personal opinion... the font type was so small I got frustrated.

Feb 07, 2019

Plot. People. Place. Great cliffhangers, vivid setting, compelling characters, and cutting-edge crime-fighting.

Dec 29, 2018

Excellent novel, moody and true to the impoverished of london of the victorian era. Great storyline, the characters are desperately human and heartbreaking. The plot is eerie and keeps you guessing. Loved this book.

Beaverton_BethG Nov 29, 2018

A fascinating book with great historical information and real-life figures. If you enjoy books/TV shows about criminal profiling and detective work, this is for you. I will warn that there is quite a bit of disturbing violence.

DPLchandra Apr 03, 2018

Whether you're watching the new series based on this book or not, the book is worth reading!

View All Comments


Add a Summary
notTom Dec 16, 2010

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.


Add Notices
May 20, 2015

Other: child abuse


Add Age Suitability

There are no ages for this title yet.


Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number


Subject Headings


Find it at My Library

To Top