Ambitious and brave. I expect nothing less from a Caleb Carr novel.
Reminiscent of his Kreizler series, Carr’s new novel carries the 19th century jargon and avid crime investigation techniques he employed; however, it now embodies the present-day tragedies. And a very apt debut for a series, if I may insinuate.
Surrender, an upstate town where Trajan Jones, a criminal psychologist, and his colleague Michael Li found themselves in exile, after having aggravated the “powers that be” in New York City. At present, both are teaching a criminology class online. Still, this present situation does not limit them from being invited as consultants by the local sheriff office, every now and then. And this brings the present dilemma at hand, “abandoned children” and their bizarre death rate in the county, wherein local authorities and the bigger players have a difference of opinion.
This being a Carr novel, it is chock-full of wide-ranging explanations and historical facts. It took some time for the plot to unfold itself, and readers who are used to fast-moving pace action/crime will usually find this slow. But the wisdom of the narrative is in that slowness -not that it lacks car chase scenes and shocking twists- wherein every unfolding is deliberate and effectual.
As per usual, Carr’s characters are very successful; they are all remarkably hard to forget. I distinctly remember when they were first mentioned and how they were mentioned every time. And this is not a short novel, by the way. In my experience with crime novels, the reader has to have a good connection with either the protagonist or the antagonist for it to work well. So, whatever strategy Carr is doing, it works really damn well.
What we see depends mainly on what we look for.
The best thing I like about Carr is that he does not simply conform to what (and how) the readers want. He offers them something significant to want instead, and conveys them proficiently through it.