I loved Caleb Carr’s first two books and thought I would give Surrender, New York a try. The fact that I am from New York, and New Yorker’s don’t surrender, also had something to do with my choice. I’d read the negative reviews, and I thought, how bad could it be? I don’t know what the other reviewers were reading, because I liked this book a lot. Though not as compelling as the first two, the characters are as fascinating, the plot intriguing, and the author’s understanding of New York is spot on.
Dr. Trajan Jones is a follower of Dr. Laszlo Kreizler. Appreciating the late doctor’s work, Jones applies Kreizler’s practices to his own investigation. Jones himself is something of an enigma. A city boy, now living on a country farm, he and his partner, Dr. Michael Li, are unexpectedly called unofficially into an investigation. The psychological profiler and the trace evidence expert had some trouble in the big city, and as a result are persona non grata amongst most law officials. But there are those in Burgoyne County who respect the two investigators. Between teaching online classes in profiling and forensic science, the two become embroiled in the mysterious deaths of “throw-away children.”
What ensues is a combination of insightful investigation, life and death action, and even romance. Trajan is acutely conscious of the way childhood trauma affects the psychological development of teens. Young people are found murdered in horrifying circumstances. Clues are examined using the techniques developed by Kreizler. Connecting with three of the “throw aways” who live in the area, Apryl, Lucas, Kurtz and their friend Derek, the group provides a formidable team.
Shady politics, an election year, underhanded police, and a bevy of bad guys, fill out the cast of characters. There is also a mysterious pet, but I leave that for the reader to discover.
I began to get an inkling of what was happening about halfway through the book, although there were some unexpected shockers. Carr describes the settings of upstate New York with so much flavor I could smell the air.
If you like mystery, suspense, heart-pounding action and the unhealthy political and law enforcement atmosphere in current times, you will undoubtedly enjoy this book. Don’t look for a rehash of Carr’s earlier books. This is a book to be read for its own value.
Caleb Carr is an American novelist and military historian. He has worked at the Council on Foreign Relations, Foreign Affairs Quarterly, MHQ: The Quarterly Journal of Military History, and taught military history, including World Military History, the History of American Intelligence, and Insurgency/Counterinsurgency, at Bard College.
He was born in Manhattan, and for the majority of his life he lived on the Lower East Side of that city, spending his summers and many weekends at his family’s home in Cherry Plain, New York. In 2000, he purchased his own property, known as Misery Mountain, in Cherry Plain; and in 2006 he moved there permanently.
He was educated at St. Luke’s School and Friends Seminary in New York, Kenyon College, and New York University, where he gained a degree in Military and Diplomatic History.
He is the author of ten books, several of which, most notably the historical thriller The Alienist, have become international best-sellers and prize-winners, and his work has been translated into over two dozen languages. His book, The Lessons of Terror, concerned one of his non-fiction areas of specialization, terrorism, and became a controversial yet standard volume in the literature of that subject.
He has appeared before the House Joint Subcommittee on National Security, was a featured speaker at a closed-door Defense Department conference on the War on Terrorism, and made regular appearances on almost all television networks during the American invasion of Iraq.
Asked what fiction writers have influenced him the most, he includes Edgar Allan Poe, Wilkie Collins, Charles Dickens, Jules Verne, Rudyard Kipling, William Gibson, and Michael Crichton.
His non-fiction influences he cites as “eclectic and too numerous to list.”
Carr has also worked extensively in the theater, and in movies and televison; in the latter capacity, he spent several years in Los Angeles; his last feature script attracted Liam Neeson, John Frankenheimer, and Vittorio Storaro to sign on; when Frankenheimer suddenly and tragically died, however, the project fell apart, and Carr returned to New York.
In 2015, Paramount Television announced that it would create a series based on The Alienist for Turner Network Television (TNT), the first season to be directed by Cary Fukunaga.
He now lives with his Siberian cat, Masha. She is, he says, “very beautiful and very ferocious.”