It’s good to be wrong

The Alienist by Caleb Carr
I’m ornery sometimes when it comes to choosing books. So if everyone’s raving about something, I’d apt to avoid it. At all costs.
This was the deal with The Alienist back in the mid-90s. It was all the rage among mystery readers and even non-mystery readers. So I said no, no, no. (Oh, Amy Winehouse. What a crummy deal.)
Just last week, I also saw a rave review on Entomology of a Bookworm. (I read only the first paragraph before I finished the book, then went back after I was done with the book to read the full review. I’m skittish that way.)
The only reason I read The Alienist now is that it was assigned for a genre study. And I was all not wanting to read it.
OK. So I was wrong.
Turns out, this is a darn good little (big!) mystery.
It’s got a neato team of unconventional detectives who are trying to determine who is killing boys in New York City in the 1890s. And they’re interesting, and so are their methods. It’s still early days for things like fingerprinting. And psychological profiling (which is what they end up doing) is pretty much unheard of. So as you’re reading, it feels like you’re witnessing something new that’s just coming into being.
And the way people rave about how Carr captures the place and time period? True.
My best recommendation is: Read a copy that was published since 2006. There’s an amazing Afterword by Carr, written in 2006, in the paperback I read. And reading the Afterword like attending the best kind of author presentation—where the author tells you the story behind the story. And this one is a really, really good one. It gladdened my heart.

3 thoughts on “It’s good to be wrong

  1. Jenclair — I've heard the same thing, that the sequel is good but not great.

    Well Read Fish — I think I'm gonna skip the sequel — the TBR list is already too long. : )
    I agree that Devil in the White City has a similar feel. (though creepier, because *true*)

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