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The Death Instinct (Freud #2)

3.67 of 5 stars 3.67  ·  rating details  ·  2,222 ratings  ·  379 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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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
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
Michael Johnston
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
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
Jason Reeser
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
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
Fiona Veitch
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
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
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
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
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
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
Carol Kerry-green
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
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
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
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Ryan G
I went into this book knowing very little about the events that kicked the action off. I vaguely remember learning about the bombing of Wall Street in an American History class in college, but I couldn't tell you any of the details. All I knew then was that it had never been solved and that's all I know about it now after reading this book.

This book is the product of the ingenious imagination of the author (I will now have to read his other book) as he comes up with his own unique solution to t
Pamela Mclaren
What a fasinating book! Jed Rubenfeld has written an intriguing mystery based on a specific period of history, shortly after the conclusion of World War I and its ramifications for the world, and specifically, the United States; and a specific incident: the 1920 bombing on Wall Street -- I think few people know about.

The three main characters in the book: police detective Jimmy Littlemore, war veteran and doctor Stratham Young and a the French refugee Colette Rousseau, are caught in the blast a
Bruce Nuffer
Somewhere from the recesses of my mind, I suddenly recalled this book one day when talking with my book club about other titles. It took me forever to remember what was the title of this one, why I read it in the first place, and when. Once I begin to remember, it all became clear. The reviews for this book in Publisher's Weekly and Booklist were sterling. It was described as a mystery thriller with a plot in old New York. However, the book--while interested--was not at all what those reviews pu ...more
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.
Megan Jones
The Death Instinct is the most perfect thriller I have read ever. It combines an amazing combination of intrigue and suspense mixed in with love and war. The three central characters are well likeable and their story and emotions are easy to get caught up in. The plot is superb centering around a true bombing in USA in 1920 but the aftermath is fictitious which provides the story with the a good sound starting point for the story to develop from. The Death Instinct also includes Sigmund Freud an ...more
Luann Reed-siegel
Interesting premise, using an unsolved historical attack, but the large number of subplots makes for a confusing mess. A doctor and the French woman he met during WWI, along with her young brother (who is mute), are nearby when a bomb goes off on Wall St. What's the target? The Morgan bank? The U.S. itself (terrorism)? Who's the bomber? Terrorists? Bolsheviks? The doctor's NYPD friend is also involved. The army, the government, and the NYPD posture over jurisdiction.
What about the presence of st
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.
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.
Anne Brooke
After trudging my way through a fair few less than stellar books recently, it's a great relief to be back in the hands of master storyteller, Jed Rubenfeld. This is a truly gripping thriller which successfully combines excellent and sometimes poetic writing with the thrills and spills of the storyline. I loved it. The two male characters, Younger and Littlemore, are simply excellent and spark off each other very well indeed. I cared about both of them very much. On the other hand, it took me a w ...more
Amy Warrick

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.
"It happened last January. The flu. She was living in Berlin, she and her two little boys and her husband, whom I never treated as well as I should have. When we received word she was I'll, there were no trains running - not even for an emergency. The next we heard, she was gone." He took a deep breath. "After that, fundamentally everything lost its meaning for me. To an unbeliever like myself, there can be no rationalizations in such circumstances. No justifications. Only mute submissi
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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)
The Interpretation of Murder (Freud, #1) Freedom and Time: A Theory of Constitutional Self-Government The Triple Package: How Three Unlikely Traits Explain the Rise and Fall of Cultural Groups in America La pulsión de muerte (Panorama de narrativas) 殺人者は夢を見るか 上

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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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