Not that kind of aliens…
The Alienist, by Caleb Carr.
Now, I didn’t do very well with the Blog Every Day in May challenge – partly because some of the post topics were a little um. Personal, I guess. And the main intent of this blog is to talk about books and cooking. Plus, I was getting all outraged and shouty about the Budget, which coloured my thoughts about writing everything really. I’m still outraged and shouty, but being outraged and shouty has just been reducing my blogging mojo and not stopping my reading mojo… Which is really what this blog is all about.
Back to The Alienist.
It’s set in 1896, at the dawn of forensics and psychiatry, and Theodore Roosevelt is thinking about politics and being the Chief of Police. A good friend of mine recommended it to me, knowing that I like crime n death and serial killers and forensics and all that. And she was right, I liked it quite a lot. It was peculiar reading a book where the fictional characters were also real people at the same time. It was pretty gruesome, but all the gore and grossness seemed to happen in the dimly lit gaslight. It was never obvious exactly where it was going, and sometimes I wasn’t sure that the author knew where it was going. But while I wouldn’t exactly call it a gripping page turner, it certainly held my interest for the duration, and I’m definitely going to read more of Caleb Carr later on.
One thing I did find interesting was the relationships between the characters. Dr Kriezler was a bit of a meglomaniac, Moore was a bit of a dilettante playing at being detective at first, then he seemed to get his act together. The role of women in the book was quite interesting, in that Sara Howard was the first female hired as a police officer in New York – however, it appears that the more things change, the more they stay the same, and she was still subject to the same bullshit that women cop every day today (another thing that makes me feel all outraged and shouty – because, yes. All women.) plus with the added expectation that she get married and be a good wife.
Actually finding the bad guy was almost secondary to the quest and the relationships between the characters and the role of forensics and psychiatry; the actual finding was a bit disappointing and a bit of a let down. I was expecting something/someone different. So I would say that if you like a bit of history with your mystery, it’s well worth your time.