Reviews

Surrender, New York, by Caleb Carr

ejdecoster's review against another edition

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Not good. Just, not good.

bookworm71387's review against another edition

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5.0

[b:Surrender, New York|28952751|Surrender, New York|Caleb Carr|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1458203000s/28952751.jpg|49177799]
Bon-apptread with the Eight-Course Meal that is Surrender, New York by Caleb Carr

After reading a review by Michael Connelly as he raves in his review of Surrender, New York in the New York Times Book Review, I had to listen and take my time to enjoy this book. I even took a day to let it all digest before sitting down to write my review. Caleb Carr, once again, took me on a journey of enlightenment told through an entertaining story peppered with endearing and real characters. I laughed. I cried. I learned and most of all I enjoyed this. For being a 624-page book, this went really quick which speaks to Carr’s story telling. He likes educate his audience while he entertains them. How many of us had ever heard of the term “Alienist” before he wrote the bestseller, The Alienist? I know I hadn’t. in this novel he is teaching us again. This time we are learning about the plight of “throwaway children” and the unreliability of forensic science we have been brainwashed with for all these years. Just like the Alienist we are treated with beautiful pictures of Upstate New York making the reader want to go sightseeing. I noticed many complained about the writing style but given the fact that he is inspired by 19th-century writers it is to be expected. If you have been fallowing my reviews then you know I talk about devouring books in days. This one I am going to eat my words on. Please take your time and treat it like a five-star eight course meal and enjoy every page. I want to hear all about your thoughts on Marcianna in this story. She is a gem and adds tenderness to an otherwise heartbreaking tale.
A wise person once said you get out of something what you put into it. Surrender, New York demands time and full attention. Don’t let that discourage you--it’s worth it!

monty_reads's review against another edition

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3.0

Caleb Carr’s The Alienist knocked my socks off in the mid 90s, but I sadly don’t remember reading its follow-up, The Angel of Darkness. 20 years later, I suspect Surrender, NY is going to exist somewhere in between. Neither an unqualified success nor an outright failure, it’s just compelling enough to make me glad I read it.

Trajan Jones and Michael Li are forensic scientists exiled to upstate New York after ruffling too many police feathers in the Big Apple with their effective but unconventional methods. When a string of child deaths suddenly plagues their small community, Trajan and Li are conscripted by the local cops to figure out what’s going on.

With that as its basis, this should've been an easy one for Carr to knock out of the park, especially considering just how deft a job he did with turn-of-the-century forensics in The Alienist. And at first it's got all the morbid, oogy bits that originally turned me on to writers like Mo Hayder and Tana French (in her darker moments). The first body Trajan and Li investigate is that of a teenage girl strung up in a closet, her clothes folded neatly on the floor next to her. Was she murdered? Is it an accidental overdose made to look like a suicide? Or is it something altogether darker and more nefarious? (Hint: It's "c.") It doesn't take long for them to discover that this body is just the latest in a series of deaths that the local police have either covered up or been incapable of dealing with. As I said, all the pieces for a slam-bang thriller were in places.

The sad thing, though, it that Surrender, NY ends up being a decent mystery hobbled by, I guess, Carr's lack of impulse control. As characters, Trajan and Li are mainly a collection of self-consciously wacky quirks (Trajan owns a cheetah; he and Li work out of the body of a disused WWII-era airplane), and the dialogue is almost unforgivably clunky. This is especially true when Carr introduces Lucas, a teenager who becomes Trajan's spunky, profanity-obsessed young sidekick. Like a lot of Young Adult authors, Carr can't quite wrangle adolescent vernacular into anything approaching believable speech, so a lot of their exchanges sound like Cool Teenage Dialogue™ instead of authentic conversations between people we believe to be real. Similarly, Trajan's first-person narration tries to have it both ways by asking him to relay information that’s way more comprehensive than a single dude should have access to. For instance, for a 30something forensic scientist who is, seemingly by all accounts, kind of a walking disaster in the interpersonal relationship department, he has a weirdly comprehensive knowledge of people's clothing and other details. Take this description of another doctor:

She had slung her simple black Bottega Veneta hobo bag on the back of her chair, and draped her similarly reserved but costly Alexander McQueen linen jacket over it . . . and it was easy to see very light perspiration forming through her sheer Anne Fontaine white shirt.


That kind of thing is peppered throughout the book, and its purpose (I think) is to give the reader all the same information from a first person narrator that they'd typically get from an omniscient narrator. But it's so obviously tortured in places that I found myself repeatedly thinking, "There's no way Trajan would know that.

Surrender, NY really is a case of squandered potential. I liked it well enough, and the book really hums along when Trajan and Li dig into the details of the case, employing an inexorable logic that would make Holmes and Watson proud. But there were also long stretches where my mind wandered – Carr really loves having Trajan ruminate on the history of upstate New York, and it's in these stretches especially where narrative momentum grinds to a halt – and by the end I found it ultimately to be a book that just barely works, and does so in spite of its own impulses.

jonjeffryes's review against another edition

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3.0

I really like the way that Carr creates these unexpected motley crews to join forces to solve large mysteries...this reads a bit as a spiritual sequel to The Alienist. It has a very similar tone but takes place in modern times. I thought it went too long and I never quite believed in the character of Ambyr, but still a compelling read.

anfweldon's review against another edition

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5.0

I received this novel through the Goodreads Giveaway. This was an extremely long and it did take a while to finish. It did start out a bit slow, which made sense since the novel is about 600 pages. Once you get past the first hundred pages it becomes even more interesting. The relationship between the characters is extremely entertaining. It was nice to read how the characters solved each new murder and problem that occurred. While I might not recommend this novel to just anyone due to its length, I would recommend this to those whose enjoy reading.

prgchrqltma's review against another edition

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3.0

This book didn't hold my interest, so I DNF'ed after a couple of tries. I think an editor should have cut out all the places where the author got on a soapbox about forensics, the decline of NYC, the decline of rural NY... The plot would no sooner get going than it would be interrupted by a digression of opinions.

lindz524's review against another edition

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1.0

LT and mike are awful and Luke saved this book. Lacking the charm of the LK books and including what often felt a lot like racism, sexism, homophobia, ableism, fat shaming under the guise of jokes. The whole book just made me
Cringe and it lasted way too long.

donna_ehm's review against another edition

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1.0

Despite the good work of narrator Tom Taylorson, I couldn't maintain my interest in this one. My issues with it are in line with nearly everyone else who rated it similarly. In particular, Carr's ability to blend historical fact with a fictional story (done so incredibly well with The Alienist) is clunky at best in this book. Sometimes it felt like he was forgetting that he was writing a fictional story. At one point, a chapter ends with characters driving off with the sheriff and the comment that during the drive they'd be finding out more details of the case they've just been introduced to. But Carr chooses to start the next chapter not with that information but rather take the reader through the history of the town of Surrender itself and some of its inhabitants. I mean...okay?

The handling of the mystery and the history is uneven and clunky. Hilariously enough, when I first started listening to this I thought it was set back at the turn of the century because the main character's dialogue and manner had so much of that formality and stiffness of phrasing. You eventually realize that Trajan Jones basically has a huge stick up his butt. At that point his condescending attitude just became wearying.

The whole thing became wearying, in point of fact.

marysaandbooks's review against another edition

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3.0

I think there are a lot of things wrong with this book that push people away and cause it to receive its low ratings and DNFs. Caleb Carr is an amazing writer, but he has tendencies to aggravate the crap out of me by giving way too much detail and by adding subplots into his books that simply aren't needed nor believable. He'll spend an entire page talking about four different routes to get from Surrender to Albany, eight pages babbling on about the internal complexities of his main character, and its hard to follow. Despite Carr's faults, I always come back to his books because he knows how to write a good story. The whodunit plot of Surrender, New York is truly an impressive read, with some (albeit cliche) plot twists that seriously made me want to physically attack fictional characters. I think the problem with this book was the way it was presented, not the overall story. Surrender, New York, has nothing on the Alienist, but it has promise hidden beneath it.

cheraford's review against another edition

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3.0

a bit long and took me awhile to get into but good characters and interesting details about the use of forensics