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The Death Instinct (Freud #2)

3.68  ·  Rating Details ·  2,612 Ratings  ·  417 Reviews
A spellbinding literary thriller about terror, war, greed, and the darkest secrets of the human soul, by the author of the million-copy bestseller, The Interpretation of Murder.September 16, 1920. Under a clear blue September sky, a quarter ton of explosives is detonated in a deadly attack on Wall Street. Fear comes to the streets of New York.Witnessing the blast are war v ...more
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Published January 20th 2011 by Penguin Audio (first published 2010)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Aug 22, 2011 Marcus rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I'm typically leery of books in the 450+ range - in my experience, few authors are able to pull it off without unnecessary padding/exposition. Jeb Rubenfeld's IS NOT one of them. When the Booklist reviewer wrote "But readers should prepare to wallow in the book and take it slowly" he wasn't kidding. And using "wallow" to describe a book isn't meant as a compliment.

I have to hand it to the author, taking a little known terrorist act from the 1920's was inventive. Rubenfeld is a decent writer and
Jul 18, 2015 Lea rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2010, reviews
I loved this book!

I had the good fortune of winning this in a GoodReads giveaway, & I am so happy I did -- although I love history & historical fiction, I'm not a big fan of mysteries in general, so I probably wouldn't have read this otherwise.

Jed Rubenfeld is s great writer -- I liked the way he intertwined the various plots, jumping from one to another, keeping you guessing the entire time as to how things were going to work out.

I also really liked the fine line he walked with these
switterbug (Betsey)
In Jed Rubenfeld's sexy, moody, Hitchcockian-cum-Freudian-cum-Jungian literary novel, The Interpretation of Murder, Dr. Stratham Younger narrates a story within the framework of a fictional journal, focusing on his experiences with Drs. Jung and Freud on their revolutionary visit to the United States in 1909. Rubenfeld braided historical fact and fiction in this Manhattan corkscrew murder mystery, centering on Freud's pioneering "talking therapy" and penning some biting dialogue between the thre ...more
Eh. This historical thriller had an interesting premise -- a bombing on Wall Street in the 1920s shocks the nation, and Captain James Littlemore wants to get to the bottom of it. Meanwhile, his good friend Dr. Younger is in the throes of apparently unrequited love for WWI survivor Colette Rousseau, a beautiful (of course) protegee of Marie Curie who is desperate to have her traumatized younger brother treated by none other than...Freud. An additional subplot involves a lot of subterfuge surround ...more
Michael Johnston
Jul 27, 2011 Michael Johnston rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a really enjoyable piece of historical fiction. I thought it was a taut and interesting melding of real events and people (the 1920 Wall Street bombing, Sigmund Freud, members of Woodrow Wilson's cabinet, etc.), psychological investigation and wonderfully creative crime story. Part Sherlock Holmes, part alienated Holden Caulfield, the duo that sets out to solve the mystery of the Wall Street bombing are fascinating, and brilliant, but at least one is psychologically damaged from his exp ...more
Natalie Foubister
Having adored Jed's first novel, 'the interpretation of murder' i had high hopes for this hotly anticipated one. i have to say that although the latter parts of the story were great, with the now signature twists, plot and characterisation, the first third of the book was a disappointment. a great deal of time was spent on war description and although i understand that this was required to a degree to set the scene for later plot points- i do feel that the author perhaps let his personal passion ...more
Jan 27, 2011 Tina rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
In The Death Instinct, Jed Rubenfeld builds a engaging and convincing story around the September 16, 1920 bombing of Wall Street. It was the largest terrorist attack to ever occur on American soil and is unsolved to this day. Rubenfeld's main characters, WWI veteran Dr. Stratham Younger, NYPD Captain James Littlemore, and French scientist Collette Rousseau, happen to be there at the time of the bombing. Their efforts to both solve the bombing and a series of attacks on Collette lead them all on ...more
Jason Reeser
Jan 23, 2014 Jason Reeser rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'll admit to being a little disappointed with this book, but it was only because of mistaken expectations.

First of all, this is a fun, very complex, historical thriller that has a strong flavor of genre fiction to it. Make no mistake, it is enjoyable to read, and reads quickly, like a Clive Cussler Isaac Bell story. However, considering the subject matter, I expected something more literary, something weightier. So it just kept feeling like it was falling short.

The story involves, a massive bom
Somehow Jed Rubenfeld has managed to create a fantastic follow - up story that lives up to his first book. I can't believe that the huge and true - to - life terrorist attack the novel is centred around is so little - known - I'd certainly never heard of it - and unsolved to this day. Through meticulous research, abundant imagination and skill Rubenfeld has weaved a fascinating and exciting thriller, bursting at the seams with plots and characters that fit perfectly together like a jigsaw.

Doug Cornelius
A horse-drawn wagon passed through Wall Street's lunchtime crowds on September 16, 1920. Inside the wagon was 100 pounds of dynamite and 500 pounds of cast-iron slugs to act as shrapnel. The wagon exploded in front the Morgan Bank and the US Treasury building, killed 38 people and seriously injured hundreds.

It was the most destructive terrorist attack on US soil until the Oklahoma City bombing. Jed Rubenfeld draws some analogies between the 1920 attack and the 9-11 attacks. Unlike those attacks,
I enjoyed this historical mystery, set in 1920 in New York, Paris and Vienna and populated by a mix of real and fictional characters, including Sigmund Freud and a rebellious former disciple and Marie Curie and a promising student. The action centers on the 1920 Wall Street bombing that remains unsolved today, though Rubenfeld posits a solution that resonates with post 9/11 events today. Against this backdrop is set a love story between the former Freudian and Curie's beautiful young student, a ...more
Oct 16, 2010 Donna rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a great story! Set in and around 1920, “The Death Instinct” is played out in both the United States and Europe. At the beginning of the novel, Dr. Younger, a WWI veteran, a French woman, Collette, and her young brother Luc, along with New York Detective Littlemore find themselves at the scene of a bombing on Wall Street. Amidst the devastation of the blast arises a mystery - who could have been responsible?

Throughout this great novel are many twists, turns and other mysteries, which quickly
Lydia Presley
This is not my "normal" genre of book to read. I'm not a big detective/historical mystery type reader, but this book looked interesting so I took a chance on it - and boy did it pay off.

When I picked up the book (after procrastinating long enough, see above comment), I was immediately drawn into a world that was filled with interesting characters, strange circumstances and terse, to the point prose that had me on the edge of my seat. Every single scene was knit together so carefully that I had a
Fiona Veitch
Jul 23, 2012 Fiona Veitch rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There were times when reading this that I thought I would give it 5-stars. Rubenfeld has some wonderful characterisations and gripping plotlines. The problem is, there were too many - the investigation into the bombing of Morgan Stanley, the Sigmund Freud sub-plot linked to finding the psychological cause of one of the character's muteness, the finding of the mysterious German 'boyfriend', the potential war with Mexico, the romance, the Marie Curie angle, the radium ring, the FBI using 'visionar ...more
Mar 16, 2011 Joanne rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Too many plots going on in this book. The most interesting one is the one about a bomb that exploded in Manhattan's financial district in September -- of 1929. The mystery of who set the bomb and why has never been solved. An honorable Irish police officer -- he doesn't take bribes, he doesn't drink on the job, he's faithful to his wife -- tackles the case.

Much much less interesting plots involve a Frenchwoman who's studied with Marie Curie and who keeps getting kidnapped, and the troubled docto
Ana Goulart
Trata-se de um thriller histórico-político, assente em factos reais da história da América e nas teorias de Freud acerca do papel dos sonhos e das duas grandes forças que nos governam: o eros (o amor, a pulsão de vida) e o thanathos ( a força da destruição, a pulsão de morte). A história gira em torno de dois acontecimentos que surgem desligados - um atentado bombista em NY e a perseguição, sequestro e tentativa de assassínio da jovem Colette, colaboradora da Madame Curie. A narrativa desenrola- ...more
Dec 24, 2010 Suzanne rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Won this book through Goodreads giveaway.

I struggled with what to rate this book. It kept my interest up enough that I wanted to keep reading, but ultimately it just didn't do much for me. The historical period is interesting, and I was previously unaware of the unsolved 1920 NYC bombing. However, it seemed the author couldn't decide whether he was writing an historical piece or a modern day whodunit story with lots of plot twists and chase scenes that seem more suited to a current day action mo
Mar 21, 2013 Erika rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really liked this book. Learning about lesser known historical facts like the terrorist attack mentioned in here was interesting. I enjoyed Freud's scenes quite a lot, I think it was a very good depiction of him and his work. Littlemore I liked a lot, he was smart, witty, honest and faithful. Younger I didn't like so much; always so aloof and reckless. Colette and the whole deal about Hans being her fianceé was so tiring, (view spoiler) ...more
Carol Kerry-green
Jul 05, 2011 Carol Kerry-green rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: suspense, mystery, 2011
Having failed to finish Rubenfeld's previous book, I am really pleased that this one worked out so well. Set in the 20s, it deals with a bombing of Wall Street and its aftermath bringing together some of the characters from his earlier book, Straford Younger and Freud, with Jimmy Littlemore now a Captain in New York Police Department; also Colette a young French woman who is a radiologist and her young brother Luc who has been dumb since his parents were killed during WW1. Rubenfeld weaves sever ...more
May 28, 2014 Madhu rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Strictly speaking I should not write the review now considering; that I'm on a high after finishing the book. Thats the only way I can describe the feeling when I finished this book. The story essentially involves a bombing in Wall street, people trying to kill one of the leads Collette and the mystery surrounding Collette and Luc (her brother).
The book's feel is factual, intellectual and precise. I loved the throwing of so many facts surrounding everything in the book. The special of the book
Carey Combe
Got past the first few chapters and could hardly be bothered to read on - proceeded to miss more of this than I read until I got the denoument, which - credit where credit is due - was clever. However, the clunky dialogue, one-dimensional characters, ABC of Freud and the potted history of radoography, just sent me to sleep, I am so out of sync with the "literarti" who seemed to have loved it. Oh well, never was one for following a crowd.
Amy Warrick
Aug 11, 2012 Amy Warrick rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition

It was mildly interesting to see how many story lines this author could cram into this book without advancing any of them. Not interesting enough to keep me reading, though. So sorry, Mr. Rubenfeld.
Jul 12, 2012 Teresa rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Complicated story about the bombing of Wall Street in 1920. Half fact half fiction with death and terror the main themes. Definitely written more for male readers with a lead character that will remind you of some guy you dumped for being a manipulative jerk. Don't bother.
Jul 04, 2012 Claudine rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Not much; mostly run-of-the-mill writing, but the historical stuff is cool. Choppy style, as though the author was interrupted and then came back and said 'okay, where was I?' and then just rushed through the section because he was bored and had a neat idea for the next bit.
Feb 13, 2016 Debby rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was in the mood for a mystery so I liked this book. the story is based around the 1920 bombing of Wall Street.
Nov 11, 2012 Atishay rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Loved this book for its ruthless pace and stimulating effects. A completely un-putdownable and compulsive read. Waiting anxiously for Rubenfeld's third.
H. Shar
Jul 23, 2011 H. Shar rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who love historical fiction, people who love mysteries and complicated plot twists
Rating: 4 stars

This book is a total MAZE of plot twists and deception. It started of with a bang and the scene of the explosion at Wall Street was shown from different points of views until we reach the views of our protagonists. We have 2 main characters who are Younger (a doctor who served in World War I) and Littlemore (a captain in NYPD), who happen to be near the site of the bombing. The entire story was set in the era slightly before 1920s. To be honest, I was so excited to read this book
Dec 12, 2016 Stacey rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Such a great book. Inspired by the Wall Street bombing in 1920 this historical suspense novel draws you into the lives of three interesting characters.

Weaving fact and fiction this mystery of the bombing is such a page turner (well I listened so cd changer). I enjoyed the flashbacks of some characters during world war 1 and how everyone's stories all are related.
Paul Graham
A long book and definitely not worth the effort. Poorly drawn characters who are really not likeable. But most of all the plot (apart from the historical facts) was massively contrived and unbelievable in just about every aspect. Not even worth a longer review! Tripe.
Spenser Barranco
This one is a bit better than the last one, but only in a few areas. The characters and mystery are actually pretty good, but this book needs to work on the pacing and provide me with at least a few clues. I think if you took the positive aspects of both books together, then you might have something. On their own, it leaves much to be desired.
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I still haven't got my copy 1 22 Feb 12, 2011 04:32PM  
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Jed Rubenfeld a summa cum laude graduate of Princeton University and magna cum laude graduate of Harvard Law School is the author of the hystorical and psychoanalytical novel Intepretation of Murder.

His experience in both Shakespearean Plays and his thesis on Sigmond Frued helped him to make an anlytical yet fictional work; Intepretation of Murder.

A master in the field of Law, he has proved himsel
More about Jed Rubenfeld...

Other Books in the Series

Freud (2 books)
  • The Interpretation of Murder (Freud, #1)

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“Death releases the energy into air. If a true catastrophe is looming, the disturbance becomes such that a sensitive individual may become highly troubled by it. He may be aware exactly when and where it will occur. He may see an aura around people who are soon to die. Or he may see images of the disaster beforehand...” 3 likes
“All it takes is instinct.” 3 likes
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