The Death Instinct by Jed Rubenfeld

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The Death Instinct by Jed Rubenfeld

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Category: General Fiction
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: A clever blending of fact and fiction produces an excellent foillow up to The Interpretation of Murder, but it also reads well as a stand alone. Highly recommended.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 464 Date: september 2010
Publisher: Headline Review
ISBN: 978-0755343997

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It's three years since we were all blown away by The Interpretation of Murder but Jed Rubenfeld is back with the sequel, which takes place ten years later. And what a decade that has been, with the appalling tragedy of the First World War and the influenza outbreak which followed. There's a hope that things are getting better as New York moves into the twenties and Stratham Younger and Captain James Littlemore meet up for the first time in ten years. They're in Wall Street on September the sixteenth – just as a quarter of a ton of explosives is detonated in the worst terrorist attack in the country's hundred and fifty year history.

We loved The Interpretation of Murder but for my money this is even better. Stratham Younger is back from the war and he's accompanied by Colette Rousseau, a disciple of Marie Curie, and Colette's young brother, Luc. Luc has been mute since witnessing atrocities in the war. Younger is attracted to her but it seems that her affection is for a young soldier she nursed during the war. James Littlemore had remained in New York throughout the fighting – and now has even more children. They're not his priority at the moment though as his investigations into the Wall Street bombing take him into a corrupt world at the top of government and banking. Younger finds himself heading back to Vienna to meet up with Sigmund Freud again, despite the fact that he's no longer a believer in psychoanalysis.

The only problem with this book is that I read it too quickly. The basis of the story is factual: the mystery of who was behind the Wall Street bombing has never been solved, but Rubenfeld cleverly blends this story with the movement of gold between nearby buildings, the craze for radium treatments and Freud's advances with his theory of the human desire for destruction and creates an utterly compelling story. There are real people in there – names you will know – and whilst some liberties have been taken with facts you get a real feeling for the time and for a world just emerging from the terrors of war.

Some things never change though. The reactions to the bombing and the threatened retaliations were to be replicated almost exactly eighty one years later. It's thought-provoking and frightening to realise that human nature changes little.

The book is a good buy. There are more twists and turns than in the average corkscrew, but it's still a book which will be reread even when you know how things work out. That's when you have the pleasure of seeing how it was done. It's highly recommended by Bookbag and I'd like to thank the publishers for sending us a copy.

It's difficult to recommend further reading after a big book like this – it would be far too easy to disappoint – but we think that you might enjoy The Invisible Bridge by Julie Orringer.

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Buy The Death Instinct by Jed Rubenfeld at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Death Instinct by Jed Rubenfeld at Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy The Death Instinct by Jed Rubenfeld at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Death Instinct by Jed Rubenfeld at

Booklists.jpg The Death Instinct by Jed Rubenfeld is in the Richard and Judy's Summer Reading List 2011.


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