Included below is The Alienist timeline and complete series of events. For a summary of The Alienist along with selected critical reception, or to test your knowledge about The Alienist’s story and characters in a quiz, please use the side menu.
Note: The Alienist timeline contains major spoilers for The Alienist. Please do not read The Alienist timeline if you have not read the book.
March 3, 1896
Part I, Perception: Chapters 2 — 6
John Moore, Dr. Laszlo Kreizler, and police commissioner Theodore Roosevelt view the body of a murdered male child prostitute, Georgio “Gloria” Santorelli, atop the western anchor of the Williamsburg Bridge in the early hours of the morning. In a meeting later that day at Police Headquarters, they decide to launch an investigation into the Santorelli murder and others that have been like it recently. Laszlo and John are promised the help of two Detectives along with a police liaison; the liaison will keep Roosevelt up to date as the involvement of an alienist in an investigation necessitates secrecy. Kreizler and Moore then spend the next few days organising their work and private lives so they will be able to devote most of their time working on the case.
March 5, 1896
Part I, Perception: Chapters 7 — 11
John and Kreizler meet Marcus and Lucius Isaacson, the Detective Sergeants who have been assigned to the case by Roosevelt. To assess their abilities, Kreizler asks them to perform a post-mortem in the operating theatre at the Kreizler Institute on the Zweig children who were murdered several years ago in the same style as Georgio Santorelli. Leaving Laszlo with the Isaacsons, Mr. Moore returns home to find Sara Howard, an old friend and police secretary, waiting for him. Sara is to be the team’s liaison and in her eagerness, she takes John with her to interview Mrs. Santorelli. They find out that unknown priests have tried to pay out the Santorelli family earlier in the day. Upon leaving Mrs. Santorelli’s tenement flat, the pair are then almost attacked by two thugs who turn out to be ex-cops.
Later in the evening, John introduces Kreizler to Sara. The three spend the night at the opera together before having dinner at Delmonico’s with the Isaacson brothers to review their post-mortem findings. After the dinner, John decides to do some private investigating of his own by visiting the brothel where Santorelli performed his trade. Unfortunately, he is drugged and would have been killed if not for Stevie Taggert, Dr. Kreizler’s ward, following him and saving him.
March 7, 1896
Part I, Perception: Chapters 12 — 13
John wakes up from his drug-induced sleep at 808 Broadway, an apartment leased by Dr. Kreizler for the purpose of providing the team with headquarters for the duration of the investigation. After a short period of recovery, John finds himself well enough to accompany Kreizler to an evaluation of a man who recently murdered another child but who proves unrelated to the case. Meanwhile, the Isaacson brothers perform further post-mortems of two other boys who were killed in the same way as Santorelli and the Zweig children. In the afternoon, the group have their first official meeting at 808 Broadway, where Kreizler provides the team with a large selection of psychology books and articles so they can begin to understand the psychological state of the killer.
March 8 — April 3, 1896
Part I, Perception: Chapter 13
During this time, the team works on developing their own psychology knowledge while developing theories about the killer. They also accompany Kreizler on numerous evaluations of murderers that may help in their case.
April 4, 1896
Part II, Association: Chapters 14 — 18
In the early hours of the morning after Good Friday, there is another murder of a male child prostitute at Castle Garden, Battery Park. The team perform a post-mortem of the boy on location and investigate possible escape roots that the murderer may have used. Their work is cut short, however, as a mob develops outside the crime scene and the team are forced to leave. Before catching up on sleep in their respective homes, however, the team decide to return to 808 Broadway to discuss their findings. When they arrive, they are grateful find Mary Palmer, Dr. Kreizler’s housekeeper, making breakfast for them. Somewhat surprisingly, however, Kreizler gets very angry at her for coming to 808 Broadway; this is somewhat surprising as both Stevie and the Doctor’s valet, Cyrus Montrose, have been helping out in the investigation. John believes that Laszlo has been hard on her and he becomes even more confused when he notices resentment on Mary’s part toward Sara. This confusement only grows when Sara enlightens him in private that Mary is in love with Dr. Kreizler. Given this new information, John begins to suspect that Laszlo and Sara are romantically involved.
After a brief sleep, Dr. Kreizler takes Sara on a trip outside the city to perform an evaluation. John, taking this as evidence for his theory, decides to take Mary out for the day; he supposes that if she is in love with Laszlo, then she must be feeling very depressed indeed. When he brings her home, he finds that Laszlo has arrived back early having left Sara at the evaluation to return on her own. To further add to John’s confusion, Laszlo seems happy that Mary has had a day out. Giving up trying to figure out his friend’s love life, John leaves to meet Marcus at the Golden Rule Pleasure Club, the disorderly house of the boy who was murdered the previous night. There they find out that the boy’s name was Ali “Fatima” ibn-Ghazi. They also meet a friend of the boy’s, named Joseph, who gives them further information about Ali. Joseph reminds John of his younger brother and he takes it upon himself to make sure that Joseph stays safe while the killer is on the loose.
April 5, 1896
Part II, Association: Chapter 19
The team have a meeting at 808 Broadway. Lucius informs them that the ibn-Ghazi family have also been visited by priests and paid out.
Part II, Association: Chapter 19
The team try to figure out the significance of the dates the boys were killed as well as theorizing about the role that the mystery priests were playing in the murders. They also scan newspapers and accompany Dr. Kreizler to more evaluations.
End of April
Part II, Association: Chapters 20 — 21
Mrs. Santorelli is sent a letter from the killer which is handed onto the investigative team. It provides a lot of useful information about the killer not only though its content but also through the killer’s handwriting. Subsequently, the team stay at 808 Broadway for a long meeting where they try to make sense of the letter. Although progress gets made, the meeting ends rather abruptly when a tired, impatient Dr. Kreizler rejects Sara’s idea of a female actively being involved in the killer’s childhood. Sara is angry with this response and the meeting ends early with Sara walking out.
First Week Of May
Part II, Association: Chapter 22
Dr. Kreizler spends most of his time in the first week of May interviewing abusive men and the wives and children who have suffered at their hands. Meanwhile, the other members of the team continue to learn more about the priests and their possible connection to the killer by visiting various church organizations. They also organise meetings with a bishop of the Episcopal Church and the Archbishop of the Catholic Church.
Second Week Of May
Part II, Association: Chapters 22 — 24
In a surprising request, Dr. Kreizler asks John to take a train with him to Sing Sing Prison to visit Jesse Pomeroy, a serial killer whose primary influence in his childhood was a woman. Laszlo then confides to John that during the previous week he spent a considerable time speaking with his friend and fellow psychologist, Dr. Adolf Meyer, about the case. To Kreizler’s disappointment, Meyer had agreed with Sara’s suggestion of a woman being involved in the killer’s childhood and had reminded Kreizler of the Jesse Pomeroy case. The visit to Sing Sing confirms Meyer and Sara’s view, while Kreizler grows angry at himself for falling victim to the “psychologist’s fallacy”.
Later that evening, Dr. Kreizler and John meet with Sara in order for Laszlo to make an apology. Kreizler also asks for Sara’s opinion on the female involved in the killer’s past. Sara and John then travel back to Gramercy Park together where Sara reveals to John why Kreizler was so opposed to a female playing an active role in the killer’s past: by searching through old newspapers and police reports, Sara has discovered that Kreizler himself had been physically abused by his father as a child, while his mother played a passive role. Although this explains Laszlo’s recent behaviour, and his comment about the “psychologist’s fallacy”, both agree never reveal this information to anyone and they burn Sara’s evidence.
May 9, 1896
Part II, Association: Chapter 25
The team decide that on the Ascension Day they will watch over the different disorderly houses from the rooftops. Their reasoning is that if the killer is choosing the evening of religious holidays to kill his victims, and if he is travelling via rooftops, then they would have a good chance of at least seeing him or, better yet, intercepting him. The team also send out enquiries to asylums around the country looking for information on patients that fit the profile they have developed of the killer.
May 14, 1896
Part II, Association: Chapter 25
The team station themselves on the rooftops of four disorderly houses on the evening of Ascension Day but the killer doesn’t show up. They decide to repeat the exercise on Pentecost.
May 15 — May 23, 1896
Part II, Association: Chapter 25
In the time between Ascension and Pentecost, the team review the feedback they have received from their earlier asylum enquiries. They receive one from St. Elizabeth’s asylum which proves especially useful, and Kreizler decides that a trip to Washington D.C. is in order. However, due to their pending exercise for manning the disorderly house rooftops on Pentecost, the trip is postponed until after Pentecost.
May 24, 1896
Part II, Association: Chapters 25 — 26
The team once again station themselves at the disorderly houses on the evening of Pentecost and this time, the killer arrives. The exercise doesn’t prove very useful, however, because Cyrus Montrose, being the only person present on the rooftop the killer uses, gets attacked. The only other investigators who see the killer are Stevie and John but they aren’t able to identify any distinguishing features as they can only see the back of his head. In addition to this unfortunate turn of events, the team soon find out that the killer had gone elsewhere to perform his killing of another young boy named Ernst Lohmann.
May 25, 1896
Part II, Association–Part III, Will: Chapters 27 — 30
In the morning, the team perform a post-mortem on Ernst in which they discover that the killer has taken his mutilations to a new extreme: he has removed the boy’s heart. From the mortuary, John and Dr. Kreizler are unexpectedly picked up by Paul Kelly, a gang leader, who informs them that he is aware of their investigation and that he has been the person rousing much of the civil unrest (i.e., mobs) surrounding the murders. After this disconcerting conversation, John and Laszlo visit the Museum of Natural History and get help from Franz Boas, one of Kreizler’s friends and a famous anthropologist, to see if he can help explain the mutilations found on the victims bodies. One of Boas’s students, Clark Wissler, is able to confirm that the mutilations are consistent with those by the Dakota and Sioux tribes, except they would never do such a thing to a child.
John and Kreizler then return to 808 Broadway with this information and to finalize their trip to Washington. At this meeting, the team decide that while Laszlo and John are in Washington, the Isaacson brothers should travel to Deadwood, South Dakota, and then onto the Pine Ridge Sioux Reservation and Agency to gain more information about the possible Sioux connection. Sara, meanwhile, will stay behind in New York to coordinate. At the conclusion of the meeting, Laszlo and John visit Cyrus in hospital but upon leaving, they are abducted by ex-Detective Sergeant Patrick Connor and the two thugs that had attacked Sara and John at the Santorellis’ flat.
Kreizler and John are taken to 219 Madison Avenue for a meeting with Bishop Potter, Archbishop Corrigan, two other priests, Anthony Comstock, ex-Inspector Thomas Byrnes, and John Pierpont Morgan. Suddenly, the presence of the priests and the payouts that the victim’s families had received all make sense: the priests, Bishop Potter, Archbishop Corrigan, Byrnes, and Comstock have all been trying to put an end to the investigation primarily for financial and civil reasons. It is also revealed that the involvement of Connor’s thugs in attacking members of the team is due to orders by Byrnes to put a stop to the investigation. After some convincing on Kreizler’s part, however, John Pierpont Morgan becomes open to the idea of the investigation and decides to allow Laszlo and the team to continue on.
May 26, 1896
Part III, Will: Chapter 31
The Isaacson brothers leave for Deadwood, South Dakota, while Dr. Kreizler and John depart for Washington D.C. by train.
May 27 — May 29, 1896
Part III, Will: Chapters 31 — 32
John spends his time at the Patent Office researching violent incidents between settlers and Sioux tribes. Kreizler, meanwhile, spends his time at the St. Elizabeth’s Hospital researching the hospital records. After days of searching, Laszlo manages to make a promising find with information about a soldier, named John Beecham, who was hospitalized and seems to fit the killer’s profile almost perfectly. Despite this positive find, he is unable to obtain any information about John Beecham’s childhood.
Coinciding with this discovery, John comes across a file featuring a bizarre set of murders that occurred in New Paltz: Victor Dury and his wife were killed by Indians and their son, Japheth Dury, was kidnapped by the attackers. After several phone calls to Sara, who verifies the information provided in the reports, and to Clark Wissler, who assures them that Indians would never do such a thing, John and Kreizler believe that investigating the Dury murders may offer the best path forward. Due to advice from the Isaacson brothers, who are in Fort Yates, Kreizler and John decide to travel to Newton, Massachusetts to interview the only remaining Dury family member; Japheth’s older brother, named Adam.
May 30, 1896
Part III, Will: Chapters 33 — 35
Dr. Kreizler and John return briefly to New York before heading to Newton. Sara, meanwhile, decides to travel to New Paltz to continue research into the Dury murders. After a morning in New York coordinating their efforts, each head to their various destinations. Once Kreizler and John arrive at Newton, they interview Adam Dury and find a remarkable connection: Japheth Dury had been a sadistic child whose mother had been abusive toward him. Additionally, he had been sexually assaulted in his childhood by a farmhand called George Beecham.
Now that they are clear that Japheth’s childhood fits perfectly with the profile of the killer, and John and Kreizler feel it can be assumed that Japheth Dury was not kidnapped at all. Rather, that he was the murderer of his parents and that he had taken on the name of his own abuser when he re-started his new life. Given this information, Laszlo and John leave to return to New York but are attacked by Connor’s thugs once again, indicating that despite Morgan’s support, adversaries such as Comstock and Byrnes are still trying to stop the investigation.
Although they escape from the thugs, there is another interesting turn of events. Due to something Kreizler says to John when he feels he is going to die (as he is being attacked), on the journey home he eventually admits that he is in love with Mary and is planning to enter a relationship with her.
May 31, 1896
Part III, Will: Chapters 36 — 37
The pair arrive home early on Sunday morning to hear that in their absence, Kreizler’s house was the subject of a home invasion by Connor, who was attempting to track down the Doctor’s location. Tragically, Mary broke her neck trying to defend the house and died during the attack. The other members of the house, Stevie and Cyrus, are also badly injured but are still alive. Not surprisingly, Kreizler leaves the investigation out of grief and it is now up to John, Sara, and the Isaacsons to catch the killer. Awaiting the Isaacsons return from their trip, Sara and John spend the following days finalising their theories.
June 3, 1896
Part III, Will: Chapters 37 — 38
In the evening on Wednesday, John and Sara visit Roosevelt to explain everything that has happened. Roosevelt indicates that he would like to play a more active role given that another important religious holiday – the Feast of St. John the Baptist – is approaching and Beecham (a.k.a. Dury) may be panning another murder. Later that night, the Isaacsons arrive back from their assignment and relay their findings to John and Sara. The four agree to another meeting the next day in order to determine their course of action.
June 4, 1896
Part III, Will: Chapter 38
In their meeting the following day, the four decide that they will try to gain even more information about the killer so that, at a minimum, they will have a better idea of where he is planning to strike next. They believe that finding him via his present profession seems the most obvious choice and through further theorizing, they narrow this down to rooftop workers who would have some contact with children. This reduces the possibilities further to charity and religious organization workers. They decide to start their individual searches the following day.
June 5 — June 14, 1896
Part III, Will: Chapter 38
It is frustrating search and none of the team members make much progress. None of the organizations they visit have any records of a man fitting the killer’s description or name.
June 15 — June 16, 1896
Part III, Will: Chapters 38 — 40
Finally, Sara and John have a flash of inspiration and decide to search for Beecham in the United States Bureau of Census records where they learn that he has worked as an enumerator. From there, they find one of his previous addresses. They visit the property and discover that the landlady is still trying to rent Beecham’s old room. Acting as prospective tenants, John and Sara are able to gain access. As if to confirm that they are on the right track, John discovers that Beecham had mutilated and killed one of the woman’s cats and hidden it in his bedroom. Following this, the pair return to 808 Broadway where they meet the Isaacson brothers and relay their findings. Throughout the night, the team theorize that Beecham must now be working as either a bill collector or a process server. They then spend most of the following day compiling a list of appropriate organizations where Beecham might be employed.
June 17 — June 18, 1896
Part III, Will: Chapters 40 — 41
All of the team work throughout Wednesday and Thursday but none of them make any progress until late on Thursday evening when Sara picks up a scent. She is able to find an Accounts Settled firm where it is discovered that Beecham has been working as a debt collector. Fortunately, the address the firm provides for Beecham is very recent and the entire team make their way to his flat to either make an arrest or examine his rooms if he isn’t home. Unfortunately, when they arrive they find that the flat has been vacant for the past few days. Despite this, Beecham did leave behind some tantalizing clues as to where he may commit his next murder: a jar of eye balls from his victims, a map of the water system in New York, and box containing the remnants of a human heart. John and Sara then return to 808 Broadway where they make a gruesome discovery. In a large sack outside the door to the headquarters, they find the murdered body of John’s young friend, Joseph.
June 19, 1896
Part III, Will: Chapter 42
John stays at the morgue throughout Joseph’s postmortem. Understandably, John is distraught that his warnings to Joseph earlier in the investigation had not kept him safe. After the postmortem, Dr. Kreizler comes by the morgue and takes John to breakfast. At breakfast, Laszlo is sympathetic to John and also tells him that he would be willing to re-join the investigation immediately after an opera on Sunday evening; the night it was theorised Beecham would strike next.
June 21, 1896
Feast of St. John the Baptist
Part III, Will: Chapters 42 — 46
Roosevelt visits 808 Broadway and the team, minus Dr. Kreizler, make plans for their ambush of Beecham that evening. They select the High Bridge Tower as the most likely place that he will take his victim. In the evening, at Kreizler’s request, John attends the opera with him after which point Kreizler is expected to join the team at the ambush site. However, half-way through the opera, Kreizler pulls John away and takes him to a completely different location, the Croton Reservoir. True to Kreizler’s theory, they find that Beecham has taken his victim here rather than High Bridge Tower.
Laszlo and John are almost killed by Beecham but thanks to the fact that Kreizler had been getting tailed in the past few months by Connor’s men, they are saved when the thugs intervene. However, this presents a new danger in that Connor will gladly kill Kreizler and John in addition to Beecham. As it turns out, Kreizler had already accounted for this and had hired Jack McManus, one of Paul Kelly’s men, as his protector who had stayed hidden until this point. All in a flurry, Connor and his men are bound by Jack and left for Roosevelt to deal with. Kreizler then spends several minutes talking to Beecham, who is now fearful for his own life, but this talk is cut short: Connor manages to regain consciousness, escape from his bindings, and shoot Beecham.
Fortunately for John and Dr. Kreizler, when Beecham had not arrived at High Bridge Tower, the rest of the team suspected that he must have gone to the Reservoir instead. As a result, Sara arrives just in time to save Kreizler and John’s lives by shooting Connor. The team members are understandably upset with what has happened but forgive Kreizler for being secretive.
June 22, 1896
Part III, Will: Chapter 46
Dr. Kreizler and Lucius perform a postmortem on Beecham but they find no physical brain degeneration and this helps to confirm Kreizler’s theory of context.
June 23, 1896
Part III, Will: Chapter 47
The team have one final dinner at Delmonico’s to conclude the affair.