Tuesday, June 27, 2006

61. " The Interpretation of Murder" ~ Jed Rubenfeld


In 1909, Sigmund Freud descends from a steamship in New York City, preparing to meet his new followers and introduce America to his ideas on psychology. Instead, he leaves months later, calling Americans "savages" and blames the visit for his subsequent ill health.

So much is true. Rubenfeld's book, The Interpretation of Murder, attempts to explain the reason for Freud's extreme reaction.

A young "society" woman is found dead, the victim of strangulation and whipping, in the apartment of a high-class complex. The next night, another young woman, Nora Acton, the intelligent, but headstrong daughter of an upper-class gentleman, is similarly attacked, yet survives. The mayor of NYC invites Freud and company, including Dr. Stratham Younger, to engage Nora in therapy in order to find the perpetrator before another person is killed.

There's death. There's hijinks. There's romance. And there is beautifully rendered imagery of a New York City none of us can imagine, one where horse carriages were beginning to be outlawed because the excrement was considered "pollution." Rubenfeld not only did his homework, he stayed after class and clapped the erasers. All of the research is precise and intricately woven into the narrative.

Not just a thriller/mystery, but a historical hit. And a reminder to me that I haven't read Hamlet in a while. I can't believe the film rights haven't been sold yet, but the book itself won't be released until September. Put it on your wish list.

4.5 out of 5.0 Head Bangers.

1 comment:

Bibliolatrist said...

I just made it through this one, and remembered you had reviewed it earlier. I wish I had enjoyed it the way you had...I was a little disappointed by the ending, but you're right: his description of NYC is excellent.