Caleb Carr Dies: Author Of Bestselling ‘The Alienist’ Was 68

Caleb Carr Dies: Author Of Bestselling ‘The Alienist’ Was 68

Caleb Carr, whose bestselling 1994 novel The Alienist made the author a household name who saw the book adapted into a 10-episode limited series on TNT, died of cancer Thursday at his home in Cherry Plains, New York. He was 68.

His death was announced by his brother Ethan Carr to The New York Times.

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Carr was born on August 2, 1955, into a New York City family haunted by violence and abuse: His father was Lucien Carr, a Beat Generation journalist convicted of manslaughter for the 1944 killing of what today would be deemed a sexual predator. The fatal stabbing, which made headlines and history not least because Lucien’s friend and Columbia University classmate Jack Kerouac helped dispose of the knife, was depicted in the 2013 film Kill Your Darlings starring Daniel Radcliffe and Dane DeHaan.

Caleb Carr would later say that the incident, along his own childhood abuse at the hands of his father, spawned a lifelong obsession with violence, an obsession given creative voice in The Alienist. The wildly acclaimed and popular novel was set in 19th Century New York City, and focused on the attempts of a child psychiatrist, or “alienist” in the vocabulary of the day, to solve a series of murders of boy prostitutes.

Such was the book’s pre-publication word of mouth that Hollywood producer Scott Rudin bought the film rights for a reported half-million dollars. Paramount Pictures soon joined the project, and while names such as director Curtis Hanson and playwright David Henry Hwang would become attached, the expensive film adaptation languished and eventually disappeared altogether.

More than a decade later, in 2018, TNT aired a limited series version of the novel, with Daniel Brühl, Luke Evans and Dakota Fanning in lead roles. A second series, based on Carr’s 1997 sequel The Angel of Darkness, aired on TNT in 2020.

In all, Carr wrote seven novels including the bestselling contemporary crime novel Surrender, New York (2016), several non-fiction books and the recently-released 2024 memoir titled My Beloved Monster: Masha, the Half-wild Rescue Cat Who Rescued Me.

Survivors include brothers Ethan and Simon; stepsisters Hilda, Jennifer and Christine Speicher; and mother Francesca Cote. Lucien Carr, who served two years in reformatory for the 1944 Upper West Side killing of his stalker David Kammerer, died in 2005 after a 47-year career as an editor for UPI.


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