Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Review: The Angel of Darkness by Caleb Carr

Here's the description from Goodreads:
It is June 1897. A year has passed since Dr. Laszlo Kreizler, a pioneer in forensic psychiatry, tracked down the brutal serial killer John Beecham with the help of a team of trusted companions and a revolutionary application of the principles of his discipline. Kreizler and his friends--high-living crime reporter John Schuyler Moore; indomitable, derringer-toting Sara Howard; the brilliant (and bickering) detective brothers Marcus and Lucius Isaacson; powerful and compassionate Cyrus Montrose; and Stevie Taggert, the boy Kreizler saved from a life of street crime--have returned to their former pursuits and tried to forget the horror of the Beecham case. But when the distraught wife of a Spanish diplomat begs Sara's aid, the team reunites to help find her kidnapped infant daughter. It is a case fraught with danger, since Spain and the United States are on the verge of war.

Once again, Caleb Carr proves his brilliant ability to re-create the past, both high life and low. As the horror unfolds, Delmonico's still serves up wondrous meals, and a summer trip to the elegant gambling parlors of Saratoga provides precious keys to the murderer's past. At the same time, we go on revealing journeys into Stevie's New York, a place where poor and neglected children--then as now--turn to crime and drugs at shockingly early ages. Peppered throughout are characters taken from real life and rendered with historical vigor, including suffragist Elizabeth Cady Stanton; painter Albert Pinkham Ryder; and Clarence Darrow, who thunders for the defense in a tense courtroom drama during which the sanctity of American motherhood itself is put on trial. Fast-paced and chilling, The Angel of Darkness is a tour de force, a novel of modern evil in old New York.

I'd like to start off by saying how awesome it was to have Stevie Taggert as the narrator!  He was like, my favorite character from the first book.  So I loved getting his perspective on things.  Plus, as Kreizler's employee, he has access to things the other characters don't have, so we get more "first hand" accounts from him.  I really loved Moore's narration in The Alienist, but it was fun to have Stevie.  I really liked that Carr switched narrators instead of keeping the same one.

It's hard to not compare this book to The Alienist, seeing as it's the second Dr. Kreizler book.  I loved them both.  I think I'll always love The Alienist just a bit more, because it was the first book, and also because I think it was just a bit more of an "edge of your seat" kind of story.  But don't take that the wrong way.  Libby Hatch is one scary lady. 

What I love so much about these books is how they remind me of one of my favorite shows, Criminal Minds.  They are pretty much old school profilers.  I LOVE THAT!  Libby Hatch's story was disturbing.  She killed children, often times just little babies.  And her psychology was so complex.

The only part of the book that was really slow for me was the trial part.  I'm not sure if it's because trial scenes are not always my favorite (I prefer Law and Order Criminal Intent because there's less court time, though I adore SVU.  Just wish sometimes court was cut out..).  Or maybe because when I was reading that part of the book, I had no time at home in the evenings to read.  So I'd read 15 minute segments during my breaks at work.  For a week straight.  That was all I had time for.  So, I think that may have made the courtroom part of the book drag on more than it really does. 

I loved this book though.  Carr just makes you feel like you are in the book.  His descriptions, his settings, his characters.  Libby Hatch seemed very really and alive to me.  And I felt like I knew all the main characters more than ever.  Read The Alienist to see this group of diverse people meet and become friends and become this well oiled crime fighting machine.  And then read The Angel of Darkness to see them forge even closer bonds and use even more knowledge than in the last book.  I love these books so much.

If anyone has any book recommendations that are kind of like these, I would love them.  Please.  I need more.

Title: The Angel of Darkness
Author: Caleb Carr
Date of Publication: 768
Number of Pages: 1998
Genre: Fiction
Source: Personal copy


  1. I do really need to read these. I've had THE ALIENIST for a ridiculously long time after a friend of mine recommended it to me. I have read some similar books and an author/historian friend of mine has read and loved ALIENIST. He's also a big fan of Lyndsay Faye's Timothy Wilde mysteries, which I think might be good to try after Caleb Carr.

  2. Oooo thank you for the recommendation! I'm checking those out right now! And yes, you really do need to read The Alienist!