The Angel of Darkness

( 119 )

Overview

In one of the most critically acclaimed novels of the year, Caleb Carr-- bestselling author of The Alienist--pits Dr. Laszlo Kreizler and his colleagues against a murderer as evil as the darkest night. . . .
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Overview

In one of the most critically acclaimed novels of the year, Caleb Carr-- bestselling author of The Alienist--pits Dr. Laszlo Kreizler and his colleagues against a murderer as evil as the darkest night. . . .
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Editorial Reviews

J. Ashley
...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.
Library Journal
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.
USA Today
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.
Time
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.
J. Ashley
...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
Kirkus Reviews
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 baby—then 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 question—whether "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 Libby—presented, with perfect appropriateness, only as others see and hear her—she rivals Lydia Gwilt of Wilkie Collins's Armadale as the pluperfect villainess, and the centerpiece of an enormously entertaining and satisfying reading experience.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780345427632
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 5/28/1998
  • Series: Alienist Series , #2
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 768
  • Sales rank: 201,152
  • Product dimensions: 4.04 (w) x 6.89 (h) x 1.24 (d)

Meet the Author

Caleb  Carr
Caleb Carr was born in Manhattan and grew up on the Lower East Side, where he still lives. He attended Kenyon College and New York University, earning a degree in history. In addition to fiction, Mr. Carr writes frequently on military and political affairs and is a contributing editor of MHQ: The Quarterly Journal of Military History. His previous books include The Alienist and The Devil Soldier. He has also worked in television, film, and the theater.

Biography

Caleb Carr was born in Manhattan and grew up on the Lower East Side, where he still lives. He attended Kenyon College and New York University, earning a degree in history. In addition to fiction, Mr. Carr writes frequently on military and political affairs and is a contributing editor of MHQ: The Quarterly Journal of Military History. His previous books include The Alienist, The Angel of Darkness, The Devil Soldier, and The Lessons of Terror. He has also worked in television, film, and the theater.

Author biography courtesy of Random House, Inc.

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    1. Hometown:
      New York, New York
    1. Date of Birth:
      August 2, 1955
    2. Place of Birth:
      New York, New York
    1. Education:
      Attended Kenyon College, 1973-75; B.A. in history, New York University, 1977

Table of Contents

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First Chapter

CHAPTER ONE

June 19th, 1919

There's likely some polished way of starting a story like this, a clever bit of gaming that'd sucker people in surer than the best banco feeler in town. But the truth is that I haven't got the quick tongue or the slick wit for that kind of game. Words haven't figured much in my life, and though over the years I've met many of what the world counts to be the big thinkers and talkers of our times, I've stayed what most would call a plain man. And so a plain way of starting will suit me well.

The first thing to do, along these plain lines, is to say why I've closed the shop up and come into the back office on a night when there's still plenty of business that might be done. It's a fine evening, the kind what I used to live for: a night when you can take in all the affairs of the avenue with nothing more than your shirtsleeves for cover, blowing the smoke of a dozen good cigarettes up to the stars above the city and feeling, on balance, like maybe there's some point to living in this madhouse after all. The traffic--gasoline-powered automobiles and trucks these days, not just clattering old nags dragging carriages and carts--has slowed quite a bit with the passing of midnight, and soon the after-supper ladies and gents will be over from the Albemarle Hotel and the Hoffman House to pick up their fine-blended smokes. They'll wonder why I've dosed early, but they won't wonder long before heading for some other shop; and after they've gone, quiet will settle in around this grand Flatiron Building with a purpose. She still lords it over Madison Square, the Flatiron does, with her solitary, peculiar silhouette and her fussy stone face, all of which, at the time she was built, had architects and critics going at each other tooth and nail. The Metropolitan Life Tower across the park may be taller, but it doesn't have near the style or presence; and next to the Flatiron, buildings like Madison Square Garden, topped by its once-shocking statue of naked Diana, just seem like hangovers from another age, an age that, looking back, feels like it passed in the space of a night. It was a gay night, many folks'd say; but for some of us, it was a strange and dangerous time, when we learned things about human behavior that most sensible people would never want to know. Even the few that might've been curious got all the grimness they could stand from the Great War. What people want now's a good time, and they want it with a vengeance.

Certainly that drive is what'll be powering the type of folks who'll be on their way over to my shop to try and buy the smokes they'll need for long hours at the city's gaming tables and dance halls. The weather alone would rule out any darker motivations. The breezy, light arms of the night air will wrap themselves around all those keen, hopeful souls, and they'll tear into the town like a meat district dog who's smelled out a bit of bone at the bottom of an ash heap. Most of their activities won't amount to nothing, of course, but that doesn't matter; part of the strange fun of getting rooked into thinking that anything's possible on the beaten, dirty streets of this Big Onion is knowing that if you don't find what you're looking for tonight, it's all that much more important that you try again tomorrow.

I remember that feeling; I had it many times myself before I reached my present lamentable state. Being forever on the verge of coughing up a lung has taken away much of my joy in this existence, for it's hard to relish the world's pleasures when you're leaving pools of blood and pus wherever you go like some wretched, wounded animal. Still, though, my memory's as good as ever, and to be sure, I can recall the raw joy that nights like this used to bring, the feeling of being outside and on your own, with the whole world stretched out and waiting. Yes, even with the hack I know that you don't come in from a night like this without a damned good reason. But that's exactly what Mr. John Schuyler Moore has given me.

He came in about an hour ago, drunk as a lord (which will surprise exactly nobody what knows the man) and spewing a lot of vitriol about the cowardice of editors and publishers and the American people in general. To hear him talk (or maybe I should say, to hear the wine and whiskey talk), it's a miracle this country's made it as far as we have, what with all the secret horror, tragedy, and mayhem that infest our society. Mind you, I don't argue the man's point; I spent too many years in the house and employ of Doctor Laszlo Kreizler, eminent alienist and friend to both me and Mr. Moore, to write my guest's gloomy estimations off as a drunkard's ravings. But as often times happens with your inebriates, my visitor wasn't going to let his bitterness stay generalized for too long: he was looking for somebody specific to go after, and in the absence of anybody else it was pretty obvious that I'd do.

His particular complaint had to do with the book he's been writing these last several months, ever since President Roosevelt died. I read the thing, we all did; gave Mr. Moore our thoughts on it, and wished him well; but there wasn't one of us, including the Doctor, what seriously believed he had a prayer of finding a publisher for it. The manuscript told the tale of the Beecham murders, the first case that the Doctor, Mr. Moore, Miss Sara Howard, the two detectives Isaacson, Cyrus Montrose, and I had occasion to undertake together: not the sort of tale that any publisher in his right mind is going to place before the public. True, there's them what likes to get a little scare out of their evening read; but there's also a limit to how far that particular taste goes, and the Beecham tale was as far over that limit as you could likely get, in this day and age. Maybe it is a story that needs telling, like Mr. Moore claims; but there's plenty of stories that need telling what never get told, just because people can't bear the listening.

My first mistake this evening was to make that little observation to Mr. Moore.

He gave me what's a rare look, for him: hard and truly angry. I've known John Schuyler Moore since I was eleven years old, which would be some twenty-four years, and I would be hard-pressed to name a fairer, more decent, or generally kinder man. But he does run deep, and like most that do, there's a pool of hurt and bitterness inside him that sometimes can't help but stream on out. I've seen different things bring it on, but it's never been stronger than tonight: he wanted the Beecham story heard, and he was in a genuine rage with all them what were going to prevent him from telling it, not to mention anybody that might even try to understand such skittishness. Which in this case--unfortunately--was me.

He isn't young any longer, Mr. Moore isn't, and the ruddy ripples of skin around his starched collar tell of how he's lived his life; but in the angry eyes was the same fire that's always driven him when faced with injustice and what he sees as stupidity. And the man doesn't back down at sixty-odd years any more than he did when he was my age. Knowing all this, I figured a fine airing of opinions was on its way, and I climbed up one of the wooden ladders in the store to fetch a large jar that contains a particularly pricey mix of Turkish and Georgian leaves. Then I set a second wicker chair out under the little striped canopy that covers my two front windows--s. TAGGERT, TOBACCONIST, FINE FOREIGN AND DOMESTIC BLENDS in the best gold leaf--and set to work rolling the goods in my tastiest English papers. In that setting the two of us had at it, the May breeze continuing to carry the nastier smells of the city off to points east.

"So, Stevie," declares the great journalist himself, in the same tone of voice what's gotten him fired off newspapers up and down the East Coast, "I take it that in the end you, too, are going to prove a willing partner to the conspiracy of silence that surrounds the private horrors of American society."

"Have a smoke, Mr. Moore," answers yours truly, the unaware conspirator, "and think about what you just said. This is me, Stevie, the same what has gone on ungodly pursuits like the Beecham case with you since he was a boy."

"That's who I thought I was talking to," comments my companion unsteadily, but your tone led me to wonder if I might not be mistaken."

"Light?" says I, whipping a match against my pants as Mr. Moore fumbles in his pockets. "It ain't that you're mistaken," I go on, "but you've got to know how to approach people."

"Ah!" says he. "And so now I, who have worked for the finest journals in this country, who currency comment on the greatest affairs of the day in the pages of The New York Times, now I do not know how to approach my public!"

"Don't take on airs," I answers. "The Times's given you the sack twice that I know of, exactly because you didn't know how to approach your public. The Beecham case was strong stuff, maybe too strong for your readers to take first horse out of the gate. Could be you should've eased them into it, started with something that didn't involve talk about slaughtered boy-whores, cannibalism, and eyeballs in a jar."

A smoky hiss comes from the great scribe, and the smallest nod indicates that he thinks maybe I'm right: maybe the story of a tormented killer who took out his rage on some of the most unfortunate young men in this city wasn't the best way to acquaint people with either the psychological theories of Dr. Kreizler or the secret sins of American society. This realization (if I'm right and he's having it) obviously doesn't set Mr. Moore up much. A deep, whining groan that comes out of him seems to say: I'm taking professional advice from a petty criminal-turned-tobacconist. I laugh at this; I have to, for there's more of a pouting child in Mr. Moore's manner, now, than there is of an enraged old man.

"Let's look back on it for a moment," I say, feeling better now that his anger's giving way to a bit of resignation. "Let's think about all those cases, and see if we can't find one that might be less of an out-and-out shocker but still suit the purpose."

"It can't be done, Stevie," Mr. Moore mumbles, depressed. "You know as well as I do that the Beecham case was the first and best illustration of the things Kreizler's been trying to say all these years."

"Maybe," I reply. "Then again, maybe there's others as good. You always acknowledged that I had the best memory of all of us--it may be that I can help you think of one." I'm being a little coy, here: I already know the case I'd put forward as the most puzzling and fascinating of all we ever worked on. But if I advocate it too fast and with too much vigor, well, it'll just be the rag in front of the bull to a man in Mr. Moore's condition. He produces a flask, is about to take a pull, then jumps a foot or so in the air when a flatbed Ford motor truck backfires like a cannon out in the avenue. Your old folks'll react that way to such things; haven't ever quite got used to the sounds of modern times. Anyway, after he settles back into his chair with a grunt, Mr. Moore allows himself a minute to think my suggestion over. But a slow shake of the head indicates that he's come full circle to the same hopeless conclusion: in all our experiences together, there's nothing as good, nothing as clear, as the Beecham case. I take a deep breath, followed by a drag off my stick, and then I say it quietly:

"What about Libby Hatch?"

My friend goes a little pale and looks at me like maybe the old girl her-self's going to appear from inside the shop and let him have it if he says the wrong thing. Her name'll produce that effect on anyone who ever crossed paths or purposes with her.

"Libby Hatch?" Mr. Moore echoes quietly. "No. No, you couldn't. It's not--well, it--well, you just couldn't ..." He keeps on in that vein until I get enough room in edgewise to ask exactly why you couldn't. "Well," he answers, still sounding like a half-terrified kid, "how could you--how could anyone--" And then some part of his brain that hasn't been clouded by drink remembers that the woman's been dead for better than twenty years: he puffs up his chest and gets a little bolder.

"In the first place," he says (and up goes a finger, with more at the ready to indicate that there's a whole arsenal of point coming), "I thought you were talking about a story that wouldn't be as gruesome as Beecham's. In the Hatch case you've not only got kidnappings, but murdered infants, grave robbing-and we did the grave robbing, for God's sake--"

"True," I say, "but--" But there's no buts--Mr. Moore is not letting reason get into this. Up bangs another finger, and he bulls on:

"Second, the moral implications"--he does love that little phrase--"of the Hatch case are, if anything, even more disturbing than those of the Beecham affair."

"That's right," I chime in, "and that's just why--"

"And finally," he booms, "even if the story weren't so damned horrifying and disturbing, you, Stevie Taggert, would not be the man to tell it."

This point I find a little confusing. It hasn't actually occurred to me that I am the man to tell the story, but I don't much like the statement that I couldn't be. Seems to imply something.

Hoping I've taken his meaning wrong, I ask straight out just what's to prevent me from relating the terrible saga of Libby Hatch, if I so desire. Much to my disappointment, Mr. Moore answers that I haven't got the education and I haven't got the training. "What do you think?" he says, his stock of injured pride still not tapped out, "that writing a book's like doing up a sales receipt? That there's nothing more to the author's craft than there is to peddling tobacco?"

At this point, I become a little less amused by the inebriate next to me; but I'm going to give him one last chance.

"Are you forgetting," I ask quietly, "that Doctor Kreizler himself saw to my education after I went to live with him?"

"A few years of informal training," huffs Mr. Editorial Page. "Nothing to compare to a Harvard education."

"Well, you just catch me where I go wrong," I shoot back, "but a Harvard education hasn't done much to get your little manuscript out to the world." His eyes go narrow at that. "Of course," I continue, rubbing the salt in, "I've never taken to liquor, which seems to be the main requirement for gentlemen in your trade. But other than that, I figure I measure up okay against you scribblers."

That last word gets some emphasis, being an insult my companion is particularly sensitive to. But I don't overplay it. It's a remark designed not so much to pierce as to sting, and it succeeds: Mr. Moore doesn't say anything for a few seconds, and when he does open his mouth again, I know it's going to be something to equal or outdo my slap. Like two dogs in a pit down in my old neighborhood, we've barked and nipped and sized each other up enough--it's time to go for an ear.

"The cowardice and stupidity of New York publishers and the American reading public have nothing to do with any lack of ability on my part in telling the tale," Mr. Moore seethes firmly. "And when the day comes that I can learn something about writing, about Kreizler's work, or, for that matter, about anything other than tobacco leaves from you, Taggert, I'll be happy to put on an apron and work your counter for one solid week!"

Now, you need to know something here: Mr. Moore and me, we are both betting men. I ran my first faro racket when I was eight, for other kids in my neighborhood, and Mr. Moore's always been one to take a flutter on just about any interesting game of chance. Why, it was gambling that formed the first basis of our friendship: the man taught me everything I know about the ponies, and I'll acknowledge as much, even with all his patronizing. So when he makes that last challenge, I don't laugh; I don't shrug it off; I don't do anything but stare him in the eye and say: "Done."

And we spit on the wager, which I taught him, and we shake on the wager, which he taught me. And we both know that's that. He stands, takes a last drag off his butt, and says, "Good night, Stevie," pretty near pleasantly, like none of our earlier conversation ever happened. The whole thing's moved to another level: it's not what he'd call an intellectual exercise anymore, it's a wager, and further talk would only desecrate it. From this point on there'll just be the playing out of the game, the run to the wire, with one of us ending up a winner and the other a loser; and likely I won't see him much or at all 'til we know which of us is going to be what.

Which leaves me alone for tonight (and, I'm guessing, for many nights to come) with my memories of the Hatch case: of the people what gave us a hand and what got in our way, of the friends (and more than friends) what were lost to us during the pursuit, of the peculiar places we were led to--and of Libby Hatch herself. And I don't mind saying, now that Mr. Moore's gone and I've had a chance to think it over some, that most of his statements were square on the mark: in many ways, the tale of Libby Hatch was more frightening and disturbing than anything we ran across in our hunt for the butcher John Beecham. Under ordinary circumstances, in fact, the bumps on my skin and the shivers in my soul that are right now multiplying with my memories might even tempt me to concede the wager.

But then the hack starts in: out of nowhere, rough, racking, shooting bits of blood and God-knows-what-all onto the page before me. And funnily enough, I realize it's the hack that'll keep me writing, no matter what mental jitters I get. Dr. Kreizler's told me what this cough probably means; I'm not sure how many more years or even months I've got left on this earth. So let Libby Hatch come after me for trying to tell her story. Let her strange, sorry ghost take the breath out of me for daring to reveal this tale. Most likely she'd be doing me a favor--for along with the hack, the memories would end, too....

But Fate would never be so merciful, and neither would Libby. The only place her memory will haunt are the sheets of paper before me, which will serve not the purposes of a publisher but to settle a bet. After that, I'll leave them behind for whoever happens across them after I'm gone and cares to take a look. It may horrify you, Reader, and it may strike you as too unnatural a story to have ever really happened. That was a word that came up an awful lot during the days the case went on: unnatural. But my memory hasn't faded with my lungs, and you can take this from me: if the story of Libby Hatch teaches us anything at all, it's that Nature's domain includes every form of what society calls "unnatural" behavior; that in fact, just as Dr. Kreizler has always said, there's nothing truly natural or unnatural under the sun.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 119 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 119 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 27, 2000

    The best book I've ever read

    Caleb Carr has written yet another brilliant piece. 'The Angel of Darkness' had me ignoring every other part of my life until the last page had been read. His very descriptive and accurate portrayal of New York in the late 1800s made me feel like I was there. The use of real life characters and very in-depth fictional characters made me wish I could meet the characters that have shared so much of their lives with me. I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys suspense and great writing.

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 14, 2002

    Excellent Read

    This is the sequel to Carr's popular novel 'The Alienist', and it's even better. The characters are well developed, and the story moves quickly and keeps you guessing until the end. I had to force myself to put it down at night and get to sleep. It's a lengthy novel, but it reads easily and quickly. I recommend reading 'The Alienist' first so you become familiar with the characters, but you certainly could read this novel by itself.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 22, 2000

    Carr does it agian (and well)

    I enjoyed 'Angel Of Darkness' as much, if not more, than 'The Alienist'. I have always enjoyed historical fiction and this novel grabbed me from the get-go. I read the professional reviews and noted that some say that Carr writes too much in trying to tell the story, but I think that's what makes his stories unique. It's NOT Caleb Carr telling the story. It's John Moore (in 'The Alienist) and Stevie Taggart (in 'Angel'). Both stories are uniquely different, with Moore being a reporter, and Stevie being a former hoodlum. We see 1890's New York City differently in both stories

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 16, 2010

    Great Read!

    This is a great book for all who love hisorical fiction. I really enjoy how the author uses real events and people as the backdrop of this crime story.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 25, 2003

    Good sequel to a great novel

    Mr. Carr's first book, THE ALIENIST, gripped me as it did most other readers. This sequel came close to doing the same but there were some jarring moments that took the pleasure out of it. For instance, I loved the choice of Stevie Taggert as the narrator for this installment because he was an interesting character in THE ALIENIST. The problem was that this semi-literate young man's writing style was just as professional as the narrator of the first book, the journalist John Moore. (For example, 'The sunlight came in softly through big rectangular windows, reflected off ceilings and moldings what were also bright white, and also off the polished red marble floor. The wood paneling on the walls, by way of contrast, was dark and together with the arched doorways gave the place a kind of stately feel.' Not exactly Henry James, but pretty accomplished given his background.) Also there are so many unnecessary cameo appearances by historical figures--Mrs. Cady Stanton, Clarence Darrow, Cornelius Vanderbilt II, Teddy Roosevelt (AGAIN!), Charles Delmonico, Albert Pinkham Ryder--the willing suspension of disbelief begins to strain. I guess Thomas Edison, Stanford White and Oscar Hammerstein were too busy to appear. Okay, enough with the negatives; I still recommend this novel. There is far too good a story here to be damaged by my previous criticisms. Libby Hatch is every inch a frightening villain as John Beecham had been in THE ALIENIST. Plenty of great twists and turns, and the scenes with the Hudson Dusters gang are first rate. If you get by some of what I've mentioned, you're in for a wonderfully suspenseful story!

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 12, 2001

    Good book but not the best I have ever read

    The Angel of Darkness is a good book, especially the start and the second half. Inbetween there are some less interesting pages. I also think that this is a bit weaker than the Alienist especially because it seeems that the author intented to write exactly the same book which was only partly a good idea. I think.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 23, 2000

    Darker than dark

    Caleb Carr has written about a topic that has long been uncomfortable for us to explore, namely, the desperation, pathological self-involvement, and fundamental misery that might lead a mother to kill her own and other children. Since I have not read 'The Alienist' yet, I cannot compare the quality of the two works, but I felt as if I got to know Stevie the narrator, as he told the story of the murderous Libby Hatch and the motley cohort of folks who attempted to apprehend her, each for his or her own reasons. The characters were set against a grim background of turn-of-the-century New York City, with its political contentions and its dismal underside. While the inclusion of notorious characters like Teddy Roosevelt and Clarence Darrow might have overreached somewhat, I think the author spun an interesting and challenging story that can be enjoyed on several levels. The story of a lone, diabolical and/or disturbed Libby Hatch gives way to deeper questions, like society's role in socializing women to conform to a comfortable stereotype that does not, in reality, exist. Moreover, the conflict between punishment for the murderess vis-a-vis understanding the dynamics of her personality that played a role in her heinous behaviors is a palpable sub-theme that Carr cleverly inserts into his narrative. At times, I wished the author would have developed some of the characters more fully, like El Nino and Kat, but, in general, I felt that, in the case of all of Carr's major players, I knew people very much like them in real life. In fact, he created prototypes of people we all know (with the hopeful exception of Libby), in addition to shedding much light on not only a forbidden issue, but on the relatively primitive understanding we had of human behavior only a century ago. I enjoyed the novel a great deal and will read 'The Alienist' soon.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 1, 2014

    A friend of mine liked this book a lot which is why I read it.  

    A friend of mine liked this book a lot which is why I read it.   Too much of the book is about what happened in the first book.
    It is not my kind of book.  I don't like real historical people put into fiction especially if it is like in this
    book where the famous people did not have to be in the story to make it work.  

    The author tried to combine two mystery stories into one.  I found it boring.

    Not my kind of book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 22, 2014

    such a great read!

    such a great read!

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  • Posted November 21, 2013

    Excellent - a page turner

    Caleb Carr's "alienist" group is back again, with this tale told by a different member of the corps. This is an exciting look at early profilers, and how they go about finding a missing little girl and apprehending the troubled, complex person behind the crime. The characters are very well developed, with insights into their personas that almost make the reader feel like an member of the team. Very well researched and definitely recommended.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 26, 2013

    Libby Hatch!

    The most vile woman in fiction! I so wanted her dead that I had to skip to the end to find outwhat happened to her. I definitely liked The Alienist better.

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  • Posted September 22, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Highly Recommended

    I read The Alienist" by Caleb Carr and loved it. The Angel of Darkness was even better if that's possible! The same characters are in this book ... the difference is that this one is told from Stevie Taggert's point of view and The Alienist was told from John Moore's point of view. I loved the characters and the way they interracted with each other. It was fun going along with them to try to pick up clues and the author made me feel as if I were right there with them. It has everything - murder, kidnapping, intrigue, corruption and it's all set to the backdrop of the 19th century - a period I love reading about. I didn't want the book to end. I read slowly so I could savor every word. I highly recommend this book.

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  • Posted July 10, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    "Angel of Darkness" is Caleb Carr's wonderful sequel t

    "Angel of Darkness" is Caleb Carr's wonderful sequel to late nineteenth historical crime drama set in NYC, "The Alienist". Carr brings back all of his primary characters, but moves the narrative perspective to the eyes and voice of the young Stevie Taggart, Did I enjoy the book? I stayed up until ridiculously early into the morning, in back-to-back evenings, and basically ignored my 3 kids and dog so that I could burn through the final 350 pages.

    "Angel of Darkness" is part CSI, part "Law & Order", with maybe a pinch of Thomas Harris thrown in for good measure. The story revolves around a woman sought for and ultimately accused of murdering her own children. Numerous subplots are seamlessly woven into and around the core mystery, crime procedural, and courtroom drama, that ultimately unravels to a satisfying suite of conclusions.

    I wouldn't characterize the book as full of 'action', per se. There's a lot of chasing, talking, analyzing, gathering new information, and analyzing some more. Carr dedicates a lot of ink to the exploration of the female psyche, through the eyes of many of his characters, but particularly Dr. Kreizler and Sara Howard. Each shed light on the burgeoning intellectual pursuits of feminism and modern psychology near the turn of the century.

    Carr does a fantastic job of building the reader's experiences in the key locations of turn-of-the-century NYC and upstate NY. He displays a mastery of bubbling up the tension of the plot while teasing out key clues, all while incorporating a few enjoyable surprise visits from key personalities from this timeframe.

    "Angel of Darkness" is enjoyable and satisfying, and is an extremely fast read even at it's 750 pages.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 29, 2012

    Love Caleb Carr

    You know after reading this novel and then checking out some of the reviews a lot of people didn't really like this one, or found fault in it compared to his other work The Alienist. However, I loved the fact that Stevie became the story teller. I enjoyed this from cover to cover and just wish that there were more of this series to read. Caleb Carr has already become one of my favorite authors, and being so close myself to Ballston Spa I might just have to go check it out.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 28, 2011

    Very Worth It

    Really liked it. It was kinda long but I wanted to know what happens. It was really interesting how one piece of information led to a search for the next. Best of Carr's books that I've read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 1, 2011

    Arduous

    It was some years ago when I read "The Alienist" - so it took me a little more than 200 pages to remember it takes Carr an incredibly long time to get to the point of the story. I particularly didn't appreciate the diaglog with Stevie's friend with a lisp phonetically written. Towards the incredulous ending, I found myself begging for it all to end!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 13, 2009

    Very Good Read

    This follow up to The Alienist was very good--met expectations. Maybe a little too "insightful" at times, but the action, foreshadowing and suspense were great. Predictable at times, but not in a bad way, or in any way that detracts from the plot or mystery at large. Similar enough to The Alienist to satisfy expectations, but different enough so as not to be a "re-run." Highly recommended.

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  • Posted June 12, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Sophomore Slump

    Finding out who did it early on made this follow up to The Alienist a less gripping tale. Too much focus on finding out why she did it and fitting it into the context of the time period. While I had a hard time putting The Alienist down, I had a hard time picking The Angel of Darkness up.

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  • Posted March 25, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    delicious!

    This man had me so entrenched in his story it was where I wanted more and more. I love historical reading about turn of the century NYC. As soon as I completed this book I was thirsty for more and so I purchased The Alienist. That was 2006. I'm still thirsty. I will now pick up the other 3, but I don't know what to expect. Will they be as gripping?

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 6, 2003

    A Suspenseful and Great Read

    This book is long but is nothing if you are used to thick books. The twists and turns are suprising at first but as you get deeper into it you begin to expect them. As Dr.Kreizler and the gang learn more about the case, you begin to think that you know what will happen, but then...BOOM, you are hit with a surprise. It's a great and enjoyable book, it blends history, suspense, and fiction: perfect for a historical fiction novel.

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