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Caleb Carr. The Alienist - Book Report/Review Example

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Introduction Caleb Carr’s The Alienest is set during the latter part of the 19th Century in New York City. At its heart is serial murder of young boy prostitutes. Through the novel, the reader gets to see New York City in 1896 in very vivid terms. The novel uses history in a very successful way, as the reader is virtually transported to this time by Carr…
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Caleb Carr. The Alienist
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Download file to see previous pages There are touches like this all through the novel, and this is what makes this novel so successful and compelling. Discussion One of the interesting aspects of The Alienest is the way that Carr incorporated real-life events into the novel through different characters and events. For instance, Carr tells the story of Jesse Pomeroy, and how he was torturing young boys, and killing young boys and girls while he, himself, was only 14 years old. Curiosity about this incident led to the information that there actually was a real Jesse Pomeroy, and he committed the murders and torture just like Carr described it (Kobek, 2002). This was interesting, as the story of Pomeroy is not well-known, so Carr brought his heinous crimes to life. That said, the central focus of the novel, which is a serial killer who is killing young boys in sadistic ways, and these young boys are invariably part of the sex trade who dress up like girls, was a person who was invented by Carr – Japeth Dury. A quick Internet search of Dury revealed that this was not a real person, although it would have been interesting if the murders which this book focuses upon were real incidents and Japeth Dury was a real individual like Pomeroy was. Another successful aspect of the book is the way that Carr brings the reader into the world of late 19th Century New York City. Carr describes the city in very vivid terms, so the reader gets a sense of history about the city during this time. For instance, Carr describes “dead man’s curve,” which is an area of town where streetcars barrel down the street and kill and maim people who are crossing the street. This, as with the incident with Pomeroy, was an actual reality during this period of time – specifically, cable cars were unable to stop, and picked up speed around the curve of the east side of Union Square, and pedestrians were often killed or maimed by these speeding cable cars (Carteret, 2011). Carr brings this historical reality to life with a humorous twist – Carr describes the people in bar who would be watching these speeding cable cars and the pedestrians who are trying to make it across the street, then would take bets as to whom would make it. Carr adds to the humor of this by having it so that the main character, John Moore, who is a gambling man, gets in on the action and wants to encourage his mates to do the same. This is an excellent way to make this historical reality memorable, as the reader gets a sense of the danger in this curve, yet the humor is what sets this particular reality apart. Carr also brings a sense of the modern into the book with great success. One does not think about criminal profiling, where investigators create a profile of a killer or criminal from clues, as being something that has been around since the Victorian Era. It seems like a distinctly modern way of investigating, and it often the subject of television programs and movies. Modern audiences today are used to seeing investigators form profiles of serial killers. However, this form of investigation apparently has been around since the late 19th Century, because this kind of investigation forms the crux of how the team discovers who is at the heart of the serial murders in the book. John Moore, Laszlo Kreizler and the others analyze a letter which his sent by the killer and create a profile of the killer based upon this letter. There are a multitude of red herrings which ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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