Holiday chills and thrills

Title: Surrender, New York by Caleb CarrPublisher: Random House 608 pp August 2016

Genre: mystery, thriller fiction, 5+ stars

Author:

Caleb Carr is a military historian and best selling author of The Alienist, The Angel of Darkness, The Lessons of Terror, The Italian Secretary, and The Legend of Broken. He has taught military history at Bard College, and worked extensively in film, television, and the theater. His military and political writings have appeared in numerous magazines and periodicals, among them The Washington Post, The New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal. Much of Carr’s fiction deals with violence perpetrated by people whose behavior has its origins in childhood abuse. He looks for underlying causes. These stories are rooted Carr’s family history. And not for the faint of heart.  Carr lived on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, spending summers at his family’s home in Cherry Plain. He know lives on Misery Mountain, in Cherry Plain; currently sharing his home with a Siberian cat, Masha (very relevant to Surrender, New York).

“I wanted nothing less than to be a fiction writer when I was a kid”—Caleb Carr 

Publications

The Alienist (1994)(won 1995 Anthony Award for Best First Novel; 1896 serial killer in NYC)

The Angel of Darkness (1997) (sequel with female serial killer)

Surrender, New York (2016) (modern application of Dr Kreizler’s principles/theories)

Casing the Promised Land (1980)

America Invulnerable: The Quest for Absolute Security from 1912 to Star Wars co-written with James Chace (1989)

The Devil Soldier: The American Soldier of Fortune Who Became a God in China (1992)

Killing Time (2000)

The Lessons of Terror: A History of Warfare Against Civilians: Why It Has Always Failed and Why It Will Fail Again (2002)

The Italian Secretary (2005) (an authorized Sherlock Holmes mystery)

The Legend of Broken (2012) (speculative European historical fiction of the Dark Ages)

Anthologies

Carr, Caleb (Essay contributor) (2006). “Some Analytical Genius, No Doubt”. The Ghosts in Baker Street: New Tales of Sherlock Holmes. 

Carr, Caleb (Essay contributor) & Chace, James (Essay contributor) (2006). “The United States, The U.N., and Korea”. The Cold War: A Military History. 

Carr, Caleb (Essay contributor) (2003). “William Pitt the Elder and the Avoidance of the American Revolution”. What Ifs? of American History, Eminent Historians Imagine What Might Have Been. 

Carr, Caleb (Essay contributor) (2001). “Poland 1939”. No End Save Victory: Perspectives on World War II.

Carr, Caleb (Essay contributor) (2001). “VE Day–November 11, 1944 The Unleashing of Patton and Montgomery”. What If? 2: Eminent Historians Imagine What Might Have Been. 

Carr, Caleb (Essay contributor) (1999). “Napolean Wins at Waterloo”. What If?: The World’s Foremost Military Historians Imagine What Might Have Been. 

Story line:
I loved this book, first read in August during my travel season and then recommended to many people. As I read through my annual book list, it was amongst the most memorable. So I must write about it to recommend it further. Surrender, New York is an up state New York town. It isn’t a return to the Alienist but there are links and threads to the past. This is a psychological thriller on par with two of my favourite authors John Connolly and Ian Rankin. This novel features the detective team of Dr Trajan Jones, profiler, and Dr Michael Li, trace evidence, forensic specialist. It has intricate, detailed, multi-layered plots which give an emotional wallop throughout. Its extremely well researched both historical and present reality. It’s a disturbing tale of teen suicide/murder of throwaway children, corrupt government, conspiracy and power. There’s a lot of evil and we see it here. Trace and Li are unusual heroes, as is the magical big cat, hardly a pet, it definitely a character.

It’s not a comfortable read, but it is riveting, compelling, inventive and amazing. Don’t miss it. 

Quotes: opening paragraph 

The case did not so much burst upon as creep over Burgoyne County, New York, just as the sickness that underlay it only took root in the region slowly, insidiously, and long before the first body was found. My own initial indication that at least one crime of an unusual and quite probably violent nature had been committed came in the form of a visit from Deputy Sheriff Pete Steinbrecher, in early July of that summer. I was then living, as I had been for about five years, at Shiloh, a dairy farm belonging to my spinster great-aunt, Miss Clarissa Jones. Shiloh is centered on a large Italianate farmhouse that is the sole residence in Death’s Head Hollow, one of a half-dozen valleys that lead down from the high ground of the northern Taconic Mountains into the small town of Surrender.

Received as an ARC ebook from Netgalley. 

Available from Rochester Public Library (two copies).

Give the Gift of Reading


As always I’m asked for my annual book list. What I read, what I liked, what I’d recommend. The hardest is to take the list and get the top ten. I just tried that, and have 50 books out of my yearly reads. Which even if I try for 10 fiction and 10 nonfiction, is still 30 more than you want to see. And even then I have 14 fiction with one or two stars as in must reads (34 great reads of 69 fiction books). ALL of these would make great Christmas gifts! I will publish my complete book list for 2016 in a couple of weeks.

Books 2016. Fiction

*Lauren Belfer And After the Fire

*Vanora Bennett Midnight in St Petersburg

*Christopher Buckley The Relic Master

*Caleb Carr Surrender, New York

**John Connolly A Song of Shadows, A Time of Torment

*Lindsay Faye Jane Steele

*Charles Finch The Inheritance

*Craig Johnson The Highwayman, An Obvious Fact

**Laurie King Marriage of Mary Russell, Murder of Mary Russell

Echoes of Sherlock Holmes

*Elizabeth Strout My Name is Lucy Barton

*Will Thomas Hell Bay

E.S. Thomson Beloved Poison

*Charles Todd No Shred of Evidence, The Shattered Tree

*Brad Watson Miss Jane

Science Fiction

**Patricia Briggs Shifting Shadows, Fire Touched

Genevieve Cogman The Invisible Library

YA

*Alan Bradley Thrice the Brinded Cat Hath Mewd

NonFiction

*Stefan Bollman Women who Read are Dangerous

Hayley Campbell The Art of Neil Gaiman

*David Denby Lit Up

**Neil Gaiman The View from the Cheap Seats

Joshua Hammer The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbukt

*Bernd Heinrich One Bird at a Time

** Gabriel Hemery, Sarah Simblet The New Sylvia 

*Adam Hochschild Spain in our Hearts

**Clive James Latest Readings, Play All

** Paul Kalanithi When Breath Becomes Air

Hope Jahren Lab Girl

Nathaniel Philbrick Valient Ambition

*Andrea Wulf Alexander Humboldt: Invention of Nature