The Angel of Darkness by Caleb Carr. The same team we found in The Alienist gathers together again to track down a serial baby killer. In The Alienist, the narrator was John Moore, an urbane journalist; the voice in this work is that of Stevie (Stevepipe) Taggart, a young streetwise Huck, who has been saved from a life of crime by Dr. Lazlo Kreizler (the alienist). Like The Alienist, this book is hard to put down. Historic details abound; we are on the cusp of the Spanish American War. Teddy Roosevelt has left his post as police commissioner and is now Assistant Secretary of the Navy. Elizabeth Cady Stanton makes two impressive cameos, and the artists Albert Pinkham Ryder and Cecilia Beaux enter to put together an image of the murderer/kidnapper. The team makes a welcome trip out of the city to the Saratoga region where they manage to find enough evidence to indict the Angel of Darkness and to bring her to trial with a defense attorney who is none other than Clarence Darrow. I have been watching the episodes of The Alienist on TNT as I read this, and as compelling as the acting and the brooding images of old New York might be, there is nothing like a book. Still, I hope that they continue the series with this The Angel of Darkness.
Nov 23, 2019
Murder at the Columbarium by Emily Gallo ’67. This is the third novel of Emily’s I have read with Jonestown survivor Jed as the protagonist. Having found a way to go forward as caretaker for this facility for cremains, Jed has also maintained a network of friends and a committed partner, Monica. A character of great empathy, Jed found in the past that rocking crack babies calmed both the babies and himself as he struggled to keep his past from overwhelming him. Now he finds himself in the midst of a murder mystery. After coming upon the body of a young woman wearing a hijab on the grounds of the Columbarium, he is startled to also find with her a healthy baby. Clues lead to a pot farm, international drug traffic, and some harsh Pakistani customs. The plot is well-paced and keeps the reader guessing as the facts unfold. Malcolm, whom I first met in Venice Beach, comes back to play an important role, and Jed’s baby rocking skills come in handy. Though a brutal murder is at the center of the story, the book provides a heartfelt, humanizing look at those often marginalized by society: the trans, the HIV positive, the poor, and even the skinhead.