Sunday, January 1, 2012

The Angel of Darkness

by Caleb Carr

The Angel of Darkness could have been a really great book had it been subjected to some serious editing. The underlying story is pretty interesting, it is a sequel to The Alienist (reviewed April 2011) but told from the perspective of a different character. Unfortunately, no one helped the author cut out so much unnecessary information that distracted from the plot. I don't know many authors who can create a great novel using a thousand pages, it mostly just turns out to be overly wordy (King is an exception).

This book sticks to its predecessor theme of rudimentary criminology, forensic science and criminal psychology. In this story, the alienist and his cohorts set out to catch a serial child murderer who is extremely crafty in making herself a hero rather than a murderer. Here Carr introduces a court scene involving Clarence Darrow, which was a fascinating diversion into Darrow's courtroom technique of arguing a case in the negative. I do have to give credit to Carr in his research and historical accuracy. 

However, some things really distracted from the story line. First, the narrator's irregular substitution of the word "what" in place of "that" which rather that create a sense of a regional dialect only succeeded in a slow-paced and bothersome narration. In addition, I felt the inclusion of Roosevelt in this story was just an attempt to account for as many "names" as possible, but that entire scenario was implausible and should have been cut out. Furthermore, the entire ending after that big climax fell flat.

While there are many compelling aspects to this story, I hesitate to recommend it because completing it requires a lot of time and commitment to get past too many words. If you read this on a Kindle be prepared for many misspellings and word substitutions that also make for a challenging read.

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