The Alienist Book Summary and Study Guide

Detailed plot synopsis reviews of The Alienist

"The Alienist" is Dr. Laszlo Kreizler, a psychiatrist whose theories on the relationship between mental illness and criminal behavior have led him to advocate modern forensic and psychological profiling techniques as the means of solving crimes in 19th century New York City. His ideas have been met with stiff resistance from within the city's hide-bound police department.
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In 1896, the city is faced with something it's never seen before: a serial killer on the loose. Within a matter of weeks, six young boys all of them recent immigrants to the United States have been mercilessly slaughtered by a bloodthirsty monster on the loose in New York.

Enter Dr. Kreizler, who wants to employ the forensic and profiling techniques that he's so long advocated. With the grudging approval of Police Commissioner Theodore Roosevelt, he assembles a team of what can only be described as misfits to assist him in his efforts.

What follows is a completely engrossing, lightning-paced, thrill-a-minute story as Kreizler and his team gather evidence from the crime scenes, analyze that evidence, and begin formulating a picture of the serial killer. It soon becomes evident that the person they're looking for is deeply disturbed; highly intelligent; and, as it turns out, watching them as they go about their work.

The review of this Book prepared by Mike Powers

Chapter Analysis of The Alienist

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Plot & Themes

Composition of Book descript. of violence and chases 10%Planning/preparing, gather info, debate puzzles/motives 70%Feelings, relationships, character bio/development 20% Tone of story    -   suspenseful (sophisticated fear) How difficult to spot villain?    -   Very difficult--no foreshadowing/clues Time/era of story:    -   1600-1899 What % of story relates directly to the mystery, not the subplot?    -   80% Special suspect?    -   chronically deranged person Murder of certain profession?    -   prostitutes/stripper/porn Misc. Murder Plotlets    -   Big focus on forensic evidence    -   Killer purposely leaves clues Kind of investigator    -   psychiatrist investigator Kid or adult book?    -   Adult or Young Adult Book Crime Thriller    -   Yes Murder Mystery (killer unknown)    -   Yes

Main Character

Gender    -   Male Profession/status:    -   private investigator Age:    -   40's-50's Ethnicity/Race    -   White/American


United States    -   Yes The US:    -   Northeast Misc setting    -   scientific labs

Writing Style

Accounts of torture and death?    -   moderately detailed references to deaths Amount of dialog    -   roughly even amounts of descript and dialog

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Caleb Carr Books Note: the views expressed here are only those of the reviewer(s).
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