K's Reviews > The Death Instinct

The Death Instinct by Jed Rubenfeld
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's review
Jul 04, 11

liked it
bookshelves: historicalfiction, mysteriesthrillers, audiobooks, should-ve-been-shorter
Read from June 26 to July 04, 2011

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 surrounding newly discovered radium.

So the book was moderately engaging; unfortunately, it suffered several amateurish flaws. First, there's that classic historical fiction gimmick of having your characters intersect with famous figures in history. I also found Colette to be a bit of a Mary Sue -- of course she's beautiful and charming and all the men want her, and she's also super smart, capable, and a doting older sister to her younger brother. Yawn. Not to mention the fact that Colette keeps getting kidnapped by people who are after her body or her secrets or both only to be dramatically rescued. Captain Littlemore had some Mary Sueness to him as well -- constantly shocking people with his brilliant deductions from subtle clues (this got REALLY old after 3-4 times); impervious to the intense (kind of over the top, really -- was he that gorgeous?) seduction efforts of a beautiful woman because he's faithful to his wife; above taking bribes though he struggles because his daughter needs an operation, etc., etc. All the chase scenes were really a bit much -- does Jed really think they're going to option this for a movie? And it really didn't need to be this long; eliminating a subplot or two would have made things tighter and more enjoyable.

I gave the book three stars because it kind of worked despite these gripes. You won't hear me raving about it but I didn't hate it enough to stop midway, even though I'm ahead in my goodreads challenge for once.
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Reading Progress

41.0% "Not bad, Tiger Dad, not bad. Probably either three or four stars. So interesting to think of Amy Chua's husband writing such unpretentious, entertaining stuff."
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Comments (showing 1-4 of 4) (4 new)

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message 1: by Riv (new)

Riv The tiger husband...does it show?

message 2: by K (new) - rated it 3 stars

K I was wondering if it would, but so far it's total fiction; historical mystery/thriller. Decently written, engaging enough though not amazing or anything in my opinion. Maybe the tiger instincts come out in other areas...

message 3: by M (new)

M I was WONDERING why his name sounded so familiar!

message 4: by K (new) - rated it 3 stars

K It took me a few minutes too.

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