...I realized why Carr makes the bestseller lists.....[W]hat I got was a darned good read....The book moves swiftly, and pages turn before you know it. The main characters are lively and energetic, and their energy rubs off on the rest of the story, which is mainly a police procedural, a courtroom drama, and a frantic investigation all rolled into one....If you're afraid of flying, read this on your next flight, and you won't even notice you're in the air.
Over My Dead Body.com
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The multitudes who enjoyed The Alienist are in for a surprise when they open this comfortable sequel to that mega-seller. Gone is the crisp, educated narration of New York Times reporter James Moore, replaced by the hotter, more ragged tones of former street urchin Stevie, a relatively minor figure in the first novel. That's a bold move on Carr's part. Conan Doyle never replaced Watson, but not too bold, as it cuts staleness. Otherwise, the novel retreads its predecessor's prowl through Olde New York and resurrects its catchy crime-busting crew of alienist Laszlo Kreizler and his carefully typecast assistants, as well as a flurry of historical figures (Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Teddy Roosevelt, et al.) whose appearances again blend into the action like stones into cake batter. Why tinker with success? Carr doesn't really, though for variety's sake he takes Kreizler and company upstate for a spell as they gather evidence against the monstrous Libby Hatch, a serial killer whose kidnapping of an infant gets Kreizler on her trail and smack up against society's sentiments about the sanctity of women. Carr also offers some courtroom dramatics as Libby is put on trial, defended by Clarence Darrow. Like The Alienist, this is a talky thriller, paced less by its bursts of violence (culminating in the U.S. Navy invading Greenwich Village) than by its broodings; psychological, moral, legal, about the roots of evil. To experience it is to plunge into a meticulously reconstructed past where ideas count and where the principals take their time exploring them. Just so, readers will want to take their time exploring Carr's cleverly crafted sequel, a novel whose myriad pleasures exude the essence of intelligent leisure reading.
Boyd Gaines skillfully delivers a wide range of voices and characterizations in narrating this potboiler (LJ 10/15/97), the sequel to Carr's The Alienist. The time is June 1897. The place is New York City. The story is narrated by 13-year-old, streetwise Stevie Taggart, who is a member of a team of detecting irregulars. The kidnapping of an 18-month-old child sets the story in motion. The ongoing investigation uncovers a sociopath named Libby Hatch, who is a suspect in the deaths of a frightening number of children, including her own. Using the relatively new fields of forensics and psychoanalysis, and calling on the assistance of some well-known "names" (Teddy Roosevelt, Franz Boaz, Cornelius Vanderbuilt), the team runs Libby Hatch to earth. But where is the child she recently abducted? The clever zigzags of this thriller finally answer this question. Well recommended.
--Joanna Burkhardt, Univ. of Rhode Island Sch. of Continuing Education, Providence
New York Times Book Review
A ripping yarn told with verve, intensity ,and a feel for historical detail...Once again we are careening around the gaslighted New York that Carr knows, and depicts so well.
Gripping...Carr is at his strongest exploring the dark underside of the human psyche and ferreting out the terrors and tragedies that drive men-and women--to kill...In Libby Hatch, Carr has created a villain whose cunning is nearly equal to his detectives crime-solving prowess...The mystery is plotted with military precision.
Washington Post Book World
A Whopping Thriller...Carr keeps us racing along with him to the very end.
Fascinating....Good Courtroom Drama...In a brilliant bit of historical casting, Clarence Darrow, a rising courtroom wizard from Chicago, turns up to ....rising courtroom wizard from Chicago, turns up to ...defend the villain at a tense upstate New York murder trial.
An absorbing if overlong sequel to Carr's popular 1994 thriller, The Alienist.
As in that novel, the figures of "alienist" (i.e., psychologist) Dr. Laszlo Kreizler, investigative journalist John Schuyler Moore, and Kreizler's assistant Stevie "Stevepipe" Taggert (who tells the story) figure prominently in the investigation of a peculiarly dastardly crime. The year is 1897, and Carr's plot is initiated by the kidnapping of a Spanish diplomat's babythen thickens, quite pleasurably, as suspicion falls on Elspeth Hunter, a malevolent nurse who is actually Libby Hatch, a malevolent gang moll and the suspected murderess of her own children. The pursuit, capture, and attempted conviction of Libby involve such notable historical figures as painter Albert Pinkham Ryder, women's-rights crusader Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Libby's defense attorney Clarence Darrow (who dominates a fascinating extended courtroom scene), and (back also from The Alienist) New York City Police Commissioner Theodore Roosevelt, who commandeers the US Navy to aid in the story's climactic pursuit. Carr overloads his tale with digressive comments on ever-worsening political relations between the US and Cuba (though one can argue such passages' relevance to the novel's initial mystery), and disastrously slows down the otherwise absorbing courtroom scenes by including needless detailed summaries of cases of child murder offered as precedents. But these are minor blemishes. Carr has learned to plot since The Alienist, and this novel usually moves at a satisfyingly rapid pace. The ambiance is convincingly thick and period-flavorful, the murderous details satisfyingly gruesome, and even the somewhatshaky central ethical questionwhether "a woman's murdering her own kids . . . could actually be looked at as her trying to gain control over her life and her world"is quite convincingly presented.
As for the nefarious Libbypresented, with perfect appropriateness, only as others see and hear hershe rivals Lydia Gwilt of Wilkie Collins's Armadale as the pluperfect villainess, and the centerpiece of an enormously entertaining and satisfying reading experience.