The Alienist by Caleb Carr.
Publisher: Hardcover (December 15, 1994)
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 the horribly mutilated body of an adolescent boy, a prostitute from one of Manhattan's infamous brothels.
The newly appointed police commissioner, Theodore Roosevelt, in a highly unorthodox move, enlists the two men in the murder investigation, counting on the reserved Kreizler's intellect and Moore's knowledge of New York's vast criminal underworld. They are joined by Sara Howard, a brave and determined woman who works as a secretary in the police department. Laboring in secret (for alienists, and the emerging discipline of psychology, are viewed by the public with skepticism at best), the unlikely team embarks on what is a revolutionary effort in criminology-- amassing a psychological profile of the man they're looking for based on the details of his crimes. Their dangerous quest takes them into the tortured past and twisted mind of a murderer who has killed before. and will kill again before the hunt is over.
Fast-paced and gripping, infused with a historian's exactitude, The Alienist conjures up the Gilded Age and its untarnished underside: verminous tenements and opulent mansions, corrupt cops and flamboyant gangsters, shining opera houses and seamy gin mills. Here is a New York during an age when questioning society's belief that all killers are born, not made, could have unexpected and mortal consequences.
Wow! I do believe I've just read a book from the 1800's based in New York but everything about it reads like a book written in the 1800's in England!
The book reminds me of the Program Criminal MInds, where they build the character of their killer by profiling things they find about the murder. In this case it was a group of people from a reporter to a psychologist (alienist) to the police and commissioner, who at this time is Theodore Roosevelt.
Really well written. If I didn't know better I might think Dickens himself wrote this! Many bits and pieces to find out what this person is like and why. Along with much sadness of the serial killing of young boy prostitutes, so brutally murdered it was hard to read what was done to them.
This was a surprise of a book for me and I enjoyed it, gruesome though it was.