The second book in the Dr. Laszlo Kreizler series by Caleb Carr was just as engaging as his first, The Alienist. Once again, this was a book I listened to with the Husband. It took us six months, or so, to get through it. I discussed how we like to listen to audiobooks when we travel in an earlier post.
Carr is rapidly becoming one of our favorite authors. Historical fiction is our genre of choice for long car rides. We definitely get this with Carr, and the additional benefit is the intrigue of a psychological thriller. Dr. Kreizler is basically an early profiler during the late 1800s. He is assisted in his hunt for serial killers by a wonderfully diverse group of misfits including a woman private detective, a journalist, two Jewish police officers (they aren’t well-respected in NY police force), a black man who was once convicted of murder, and a young boy who grew up breaking into houses (he has since been reformed).
This particular killer is all the more horrifying and intriguing because it is a woman who kills children. It is different from the first book in a few key areas. The first book was narrated by one of the team members John Moore, who is a crime writer for the New York Times. This book is narrated by Stevie, the young thief who has been taken in by Dr. Kreizler. Also, we learn who the murderess is early on in this book. In The Alienest it took quite a while before we even had the name of the killer. The suspense and intrigue are built through discovering her past and the reasons why she kills, and in the effort to bring her to justice. She is smart, wily, and able to convince important people, like the Vanderbilt’s, to believe in her innocence.
There is an element of additional danger in this story from a national standpoint as well. Spain and the U.S. are on bad terms, and the Spanish ambassador’s daughter has been kidnapped by the suspect. The team is racing against the clock to find the child and get the murderess off the streets before the possibility of war becomes inevitable, and more children are lost.
The history is well researched, and we really enjoy seeing large historical figures play a role in these stories. Teddy Roosevelt usually shows up at one point or another. A famous suffragist of the time, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, the painter Albert Pinkham Ryder, and Clarence Darrow who is a strong force in the courtroom, all make appearances in this installment of the series.
George Guidall narrated the unabridged version of this book, as he did the first one. We are big fans of Guidall. He has a wonderful flow and his voice is easy to listen to. He does a wonderful job with character voices and accents. We often look for other books narrated by him to listen to.
Whatever Carr produces next in this series will immediately be added to our library on Audible, especially if Guidall is narrating again, as I hope he will.