Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Alienist

This fast-paced, convincing thriller by the author of The Devil Soldier is set in New York City in 1896, where two men and a brave, determined woman embark on a quest that takes them into the tortured mind of a barbaric serial killer.

I had to pick a mystery book for school, so I chose The Alienist, having been meaning to read it for a fairly long time. From the very first pages, I was hooked and in love.

The author’s style is very descriptive, with many images, metaphors and comparisons. Every little detail is looked into, and though it can seem heavy at times, overall it is quite satisfying to have an overload of information, for once. Too many books these days forget to use descriptions and the whole world seems bland, or use descriptions inadequately and make the book seem strange (I am thinking of the Blue Blood series here), but in the Alienist, the dosage was excellent and the story unveiled itself like a movie in my head.

The characters being real people, they have a very detailed background, and it is well explained in this book. The Alienist brings us to understand the inspectors and have a glimpse at their soul. I really liked this feature of the book, the fact that everything is based on real events and a true story.

The plotline itself was dark and bloody, a story like I love them. It is very complex and the plot, like everything else, is rich in details. It is very well explained, and anyone can understand the doctor’s train of thought, even without his education. Maybe there were a little too many useless details here and there, but that is minor compared to how good the story is.

There are a lot of places that are visited or mentioned, too, and they re all lengthily described. Again, there may be a little too many and a little too much details, and this slightly slows the pace down. But it doesn’t hurt to have such a clear mental image of the setting. It appears to me as if I were there, in 1896 New York, with the greats in the dirty streets, resolving a particularly tricky case.

Lastly, there was just enough humour to save the book from being overly dark and gothic. It really relieves the stress that builds up quite high otherwise. They weren’t roll-on-the-ground funny jokes, but amusing enough to make me snicker from time to time.

All in all a great book that is definitely worth the read. This is one of those big fat books that you have just got to read at least once in your life. If you like thrillers, historical fiction and well developped plots, or all three, this is for you. Read it. You won’t regret it.


The Alienist by Caleb Carr
Rating : 8,9/10

1 comment:

  1. You have me very excited to read the book! Now I want to go right out to Barnes and Noble! LoL


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