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Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Alienist by Caleb Carr

Caleb Carr's plodding plot mars mystery

Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919) as an NYC Police Commissioner
This is the second Caleb Carr book I've read and it will be the last. Carr follows Charles Dickens in the time period of the book and in the tradition of using 100 words to say what 15 could have said.

The plot of The Alienist is painfully slow to develop. Carr sacrifices reader interest for the sake of creating mood. He succeeds in doing both - mood is created and I nearly lost interest. I forced my self to move on, suck it up and finish and I was rewarded with a decent last 100 pages or so. But, the payoff was not early enough for all the build-up.

I cannot, in good conscience, recommend this book to anyone except for the most hardcore fans of mystery, New York City and/or Teddy Roosevelt who puts in an appearance as the Superintendent of the Board of Police Commissioners of New York City. That job title was soon after changed to Chief of Police. He held that position from 1895-1897.

I rate this book 2 stars out of 5.

Reviewed on June 8, 2008.

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