Book Review by Michelle Goetzl

 

Caleb Carr is best known for his New York Times bestselling novel, “The Alienist,” which was written in 1994 but took place in New York City in 1896 and looked at the early days of criminal profiling. In his newest novel, “Surrender, New York,” Carr continues to look at criminal profiling, but in modern-day New York state.

“Surrender, New York” focuses on Dr. Trajan Jones, a criminal psychologist and profiler who has been exiled from New York City to upstate. He and his partner, Dr. Michael Li, are now teaching online criminology classes for SUNY-Albany and helping the local police from time to time. Jones is considered the world’s leading authority on Dr. Laszlo Kreizler, the Alienist from his earlier work. While “The Alienist” celebrated the dawning of the field of criminal psychology and criminal profiling, “Surrender, New York” looks at a world where forensic science has replaced much of the investigative work and where it might have gone a step too far.

When Jones and Li are brought in to review the strange death of a young girl, they realize quickly that there is more to the case than meets the eye. After their initial investigation, they learn that this is the third in a string of deaths that appear to look like the work of a serial killer. However, when more about the case is revealed, it turns out that each of these teenagers is actually a “throwaway kid,” a child abandoned by his or her parents.

Once the initial crime situation is set up, Carr starts to bring in more characters to add to the many layers of the book. While walking his pet cheetah, Marcianna, Jones comes into contact with Lucas and Derek, two young boys who happen to be throwaways, too. Lucas winds up agreeing to help with the case after revealing his knowledge of the murdered kids. Lucas gets taken under Jones’s wing. Jones also falls for Lucas’s older sister and guardian, Ambyr.

“Surrender, New York,” is not an unflawed novel, but it is immensely readable. There are times when Carr gets a little caught up in historical details and rants about the criminal justice system, but the story is unique and gripping. Fans of criminal novels will enjoy this powerful read.

 

Goetzl writes an online blog—“Books My Kids Read.” She loves books and sharing that love of reading with children. She can be reached at booksmykidsread@gmail.com.