73 pages 2 hours read

Caleb Carr

The Alienist

Fiction | Novel | Adult | Published in 1994

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Important Quotes

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Content Warning: This section includes references to graphic descriptions of violence against children and the commercial sexual exploitation of children. Furthermore, because the novel is set in 1896, it includes dialogue that reflects the language of that era.

“Theodore is in the ground.”


(Part 1, Chapter 1, Page 3)

The book’s opening sentence establishes two important points. First, Theodore Roosevelt appears as a key supporting figure, by far the most important character who actually lived. Second, it identifies Roosevelt’s funeral in January 1919 as the occasion that inspires the narrator, John Schuyler Moore, to tell the fictional story of a secret murder investigation that took place in the spring of 1896, when Roosevelt served as president of New York City’s board of police commissioners. This second point allows Moore to reflect on dramatic changes that have occurred in both the city and the nation in the past 23 years, changes that were already underway in 1896.

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“And then I saw it.”


(Part 1, Chapter 2, Page 15)

The final sentence of Chapter 2 hints at the shocking scene Moore describes in gruesome detail at the beginning of the next chapter, establishing the novel’s habit of ending chapters with cliffhangers intended to pique the reader’s curiosity and propel them into the next chapter. In this case, “it” is the mutilated body of Georgio Santorelli, discovered atop the western anchor of the Williamsburg bridge on March 3, 1896. This dramatic setup prepares readers for the savage violence that lies at the heart of the story.

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