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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Freud, Jung and Hamlet
From the moment I opened this book and read the first few sentences I was enthralled and captured. The writing has an energy and pace that never lets up, and the plot is wonderfully various and intruiging. Based on a real visit that Freud paid to New York, this posits fictional happenings that partly explain his lack of enthusiasm for America. Freud is not diminished by...
Published on 11 Sep 2009 by Eileen Shaw

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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Okay.
I think 3 stars is just about right for this book.Set during Freud's visit to New York around the turn of the last century it works reasonably well,but the writing is at times very clumsy and uninvolving.Every now and then the narrative stops and the author presents us with a great slab of description of a building or a large chunk of local history.That apart,it's a...
Published on 10 Oct 2007 by Johnnybluetime


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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Okay., 10 Oct 2007
By 
Johnnybluetime - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: The Interpretation of Murder (Paperback)
I think 3 stars is just about right for this book.Set during Freud's visit to New York around the turn of the last century it works reasonably well,but the writing is at times very clumsy and uninvolving.Every now and then the narrative stops and the author presents us with a great slab of description of a building or a large chunk of local history.That apart,it's a reasonable plot, although not one that will tax your intelligence too much,and the characters are fairly well drawn without ever being compelling.

I have to say that Caleb Carr did this sort of thing far,far, better in The Alienist,where he manages to work both period detail and a brief history of psychology fairly seamlessly into a far better narrative.Given that both books are set in New York in similar periods and with similar protaganists I would certainly recommend Carr's book over this one any day.

Another triumph of marketing over talent I'm afraid,but reasonably diverting nevertheless,although I wouldn't really recommend it.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Freud, Jung and Hamlet, 11 Sep 2009
By 
Eileen Shaw "Kokoschka's_cat" (Leeds, England) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Interpretation of Murder (Paperback)
From the moment I opened this book and read the first few sentences I was enthralled and captured. The writing has an energy and pace that never lets up, and the plot is wonderfully various and intruiging. Based on a real visit that Freud paid to New York, this posits fictional happenings that partly explain his lack of enthusiasm for America. Freud is not diminished by this book and his conversations with Jung (which led to a later estrangement between them) are taken from the letters they exchanged. Jung, it has to be said, may be felt to emerge from this novel as the lesser man.

Stratham Younger, a young American early adherent to the Freudian cause, is the main protagonist. He has an endearing mixture of naivety, hopefulness and seriousness. He is much exercised by the problem of Hamlet - why does he not act earlier in the play, and could Freudian psychiatry explain some of the machinations he goes through? Along with this fascinating pairing of Freud and Hamlet, we have an exciting murder mystery, which bears great fruit in the form of much female `hysteria'. It is a delightfully dark mystery involving puzzling psycho-dramatics (not the least a sadist on the loose) and a satisfying fiction with factional overtones - all in all a decided success.
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88 of 97 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Freud, Hamlet, Murder and New York History, 7 Feb 2007
By 
Deborah Gajic (Warwickshire) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Interpretation of Murder (Paperback)
OK I'll admit it I'm a fan of the Richard and Judy book club! When I heard the review of this book I knew that I would have to read it, as it deals with three of my favourite things: - Freud, Murder literature and New York (not necessarily in that order). The author is the current Robert R. Slaughter Professor of Law at Yale University. At Princeton he wrote his senior thesis on Freud and at the Juilliard School of Drama studied Shakespeare. Both of these influences are clearly seen in this his first novel. The title is a play on Freud's famous work `The Interpretation of Dreams', the central character Nora, is modelled on the case study of `Dora' and many references are made to the Oedipal explanation of Hamlet.

This book is a work of fiction, but there are some historical truths. Freud did indeed make his one and only visit to New York in 1909, along with Jung. His biographers have long puzzled over the trauma that must have happened there as he refused to speak about it and in fact labelled Americans `savages'.

The story begins with Freud's arrival in New York, the very next morning a beautiful heiress is found bound and strangled in her apartment. The following night another, Nora Acton is discovered bound and wounded, but still alive. The attack has left her unable to speak or remember anything about her ordeal. Freud and a young American, Stratham Younger are enlisted to help Nora Action recover her memory in order to catch the killer.

Being a thriller, the story has numerous twists and turns and, of course, the obligatory twist at the end. However, along the way it beautifully blends fact and fiction, psychoanalytical theory and a vibrant picture of New York society and history. I was particularly fascinated by the engineering and human story behind the construction of the Manhattan Bridge. I hadn't realised that many men had died from the effects of decompression as a result of working below the surface in caissons building the foundations of the bridge. Discoveries were made then, that still benefit divers today, about how to minimize the effects, by slowly coming to the surface, in order to reacclimatize the body.

I thoroughly recommend this book to you. Once I started I could not put it down. Slip this book into your suitcase; it will make a brilliant holiday read.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars uninspiring., 16 Oct 2007
This review is from: The Interpretation of Murder (Paperback)
Reading this book is like watching a Sunday night ITV drama, it's easy going, mildly distracting, you'll probably stick it out to the end if you start, and features some rather cliched plot points and characters.

However, once you're finished, it's instantly forgotten.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Three hundred pages too long, 11 Jan 2011
This review is from: The Interpretation of Murder (Paperback)
This book was recently selected by my local Book Club, so I more or less had to read it. The title and subject including Freud's only visit to New York in 1909 are intriguing and I read through the first two hundred pages or so fairly quickly. The book then goes haywire and loses all credibility. The plot becomes convoluted and at times almost ludicrous, the characters shallow and unbelievable. The narrative darts from one situation to another, I could hardly keep up with what was happening. It is a shame because the descriptions of the New York social scene and the construction of the Manhattan Bridge are interesting. I am afraid overall I found this a disappointing read about three hundred pages too long.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great start but let down by plot twists, 15 May 2008
This review is from: The Interpretation of Murder (Paperback)
This novel starts off with great promise but loses it's way when the plot becomes too covoluted and implausible, then I lost interest. Set in Manhatten in the early 1900s and inspired by Feaud's only vist to the US, the opening chapters are wonderful and vivid blend of fact and fiction. Feaud, Jung and Ferenczi arrive in NY just as a beautiful debutant is murdered. The following night a wealthy young heiress is found tied up in her parent's home. Dr Younger, an American follower of Freud and the narrator of the novel, is called uopn to traet her as the traumatised girl is unable to speak or remember what has happened to her. Dr Younger becomes the unwitting sleuth as he tries to piece together the ruth. It's well written and very well researched but I felt that the premise for the plot was rather contrived. Endless and somewhat pointless plot twists dampened my interest and I found myself flipping thru pages to get to the end. I much preferred "The Semantics of Murder" by Aifric Campbell" which is similar in theme to Reubenfeld's but is a more interesting and absorbing read. (see my review)
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Gripping through and through, 14 Jun 2009
By 
A. Krause (London UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Interpretation of Murder (Paperback)
Not being much of a reader of crime novels or thrillers, I was shocked by how much I enjoyed this novel. The Interpretation of Murder centres around Freud's only visit to America.

A beautiful New York society girl is found bound and strangled in her expensive appartment the day before Freud's arrival in Manhattan, and a another one is found with similar injuries soon after, whose traumatic ordeal has left her amnesiatic and unable to speak. Freud and young American psychoanalyst Stratham Younger are enlisted to help the girl, Miss Nora Acton, regain her memory to catch the killer.

Leading them from the glittering world of upper class Manhattan to the caissons under the Manhattan bridge and to the city morgue, the murderer avoids them at every angle, and its only a matter of time before one of them is killed.

Filled with twists and turns all along the way, you are left guessing til the very end. A wonderful blend of fact and fiction, I would recommend it to anyone interested in anything from Freudian psychology to Manhattan society in the 1900s. An excellent read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Jung Guns, 1 Aug 2008
By 
Rotgut "rotgut" (Warrington UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Interpretation of Murder (Paperback)
In this assured debut novel, Jed Rubenfeld skillfully combines crime and historical genres in a very readable work.

The author expends considerable ingenuity in introducing the figures of Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung to the scene of a serious crime in New York, which needs the new skill of psychoanalysis to unlock the memory of the traumatised victim, to enable the police to solve the case. Strangely, after this imaginative set-up, Rubenfeld decides not to follow through with this carefully constructed scenario, choosing instead to have the victim treated by a fictional psychiatrist. A much less striking plot line.

The story mixes fact and fiction in a fast paced turn of the Century detective novel. The afterword, where the author explains which parts of the story are factual is interesting and shows the amount of research a book like this needs.

The conversations between Jung and Freud, based on their correspondence and writings, is interesting, perhaps more of this and less of the protagonist's rehearsing of his (and, we suspect the author's) ideas on Shakespeare and psychology would have been welcome.

Some extremely unlikely episodes, e.g.under the Manhattan Bridge, detract from the rather serious tone of the book, but pave the way for the closing scenes, where secret passages ,mistaken identities and struggles on seventh storey balconies show we have now firmly entered the world of the action-adventure story.

Ultimately, this is an intelligent book examining serious issues in a playful way, that perhaps becomes a little too conventional in its ending.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A very entertaining read, 21 Feb 2007
By 
Sonia (Delft, the Netherlands) - See all my reviews
Although I am not much of a reader of crime novels, I found myself devouring this book in a matter of days. Rubenfeld has a weaved a captivating and complex plot, placed it in a highly interesting context, added some effective suspension techniques, hereby creating a compelling narrative that is difficult to put down.

Set in New York City during the early 1900's, this book involves Sigmund Freud and his revolutionary psychoanalysis movement, bringing the reader not only suspense but also food for thought.

The author has clearly performed meticulous research on the novel. There are many historical details of New York City, involving not only major architectural changes such as sky scrapers and suspension bridges, but also the goings on in high society, and the poor living and working conditions of the less fortunate. Also impressive is his knowledge of psychoanalysis, which he successfully breaks down into basics, educating the reader in the process.

However, I found the unraveling of the plot a little too farfetched. Furthermore, I believe the characters are not well enough developed; even though this book is full of psychological theories, the characters remain flat as a board. I would therefore not call this a psychological thriller, but a crime novel with psychological aspects.

Also I found Rubenfeld's description of the scenes a little poor. He focuses mainly on what can be seen or heard, but he hardly describes how the characters feel, what they smell, etc., making this more an account of events, herein failing to bring the reader a sense of presence and creating distance between the story and the reader.

So my conclusion is that this book is definitely interesting enough to pick up, it is a very entertaining and educational read, though by no means is it groundbreaking or revolutionary.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Interesting idea but................, 1 Jun 2008
By 
S. Curtis "Italophile" (Shropshire) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Interpretation of Murder (Paperback)
The idea of this book is very interesting. Sometimes it is easier to learn about real life people placed in a fictional context, and Freud is an interesting person, as is turn of the century New York. However, as with The Da Vinci Code, another much-hyped book, this is an interesting subject in the hands of a really abyssmal writer. The grammar is excrutiating, requiring a re-reading of many sentences. At one stage I thought a page was missing as it became so disjointed and I still haven't worked it out, not that I really wanted to by this stage. The plot became so convoluted and implausible that I had to force myself to get to the end, just in case there was something interesting to be learnt. The characters are really quite uninteresting and the "honest cop" who has flashes of inspiration to unravel the mystery, too implausible, and as for the fake death scene, well..... (let's not mention the whore with the heart of gold). The red herrings to keep the plot ticking along are pretty ridiculous and, frankly, I feel I need to go back over everything to see if it pieces together, but I really can't be bothered. Beware anybody who is a stickler for the quality of written English. This book is written in present day American. Anybody interested in turn-of-the-century New York should read Edith Wharton and Scott FitzGerald, not only for their wonderful evocation of the time but for their masterful prose.
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The Interpretation of Murder
The Interpretation of Murder by Jed Rubenfeld (Paperback - 15 Jan 2007)
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