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46 of 47 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This autumn's must-read
Whether you've read The Interpretation of Murder or not, this is sensational. It starts with the biggest terrorist attack in US History, before 9/11. Like most other people, I had never heard of the September 16th 1920 bombing in New York - a crime which to this day remains unsolved - but it makes for a fantastic backdrop to the story and pulls you in from the very first...
Published on 17 Sep 2010 by LaPalma

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing follow up to a cracking first book
I've erred on the side of generosity with 3 stars here, I'd have like to have given 2.5. It wasn't awful but it certainly failed to live up to the excellent 'An Interpretation of Murder'. There was a Dan Brown-esque pace with the plot where there was constantly something happening and moving the plot forward so it should have been relatively easy to stick with it and...
Published 22 months ago by P. Jeffrey


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46 of 47 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This autumn's must-read, 17 Sep 2010
This review is from: The Death Instinct (Hardcover)
Whether you've read The Interpretation of Murder or not, this is sensational. It starts with the biggest terrorist attack in US History, before 9/11. Like most other people, I had never heard of the September 16th 1920 bombing in New York - a crime which to this day remains unsolved - but it makes for a fantastic backdrop to the story and pulls you in from the very first page. Jed Rubenfeld has an incredible talent for turning the pace up and down at just the right moments throughout and his characters are so believable you feel like you know them personally by the end. It's packed with twists and turns and is a truly explosive read - read it before everyone else does!
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars `an engaging sequel', 23 Sep 2010
By 
Paul Grainger (Lincoln, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Death Instinct (Hardcover)
In his last novel, The Interpretation of Murder, and in this present one, Jed Rubenfeld demonstrates a richness of characterization that few of his fellow-practitioners in the historical fiction genre can match.

Once again the reader makes the acquaintance of doctor of medicine Stratham Younger, Captain James Littlemore of the NYPD and a real-life Sigmund Freud. This trio is augmented by a love interest, Colette Rousseau, and the world-renowned scientist Madame Marie Curie.

This blend of fictional and factual characters forms the cast of an intriguing story that has as its backdrop the Wall Street bombing of 1920. It is a story with several threads:
There is high level corruption in the world of banking; an obsessive interest in the use of radium treatment as a cure for illness, encouraged by the industrial sector; and the promotion of one of Freud's major theories, the death instinct.

To say more would perhaps mar the enjoyment of a potential reader. Suffice to say that Rubenfeld's fertile imagination, incorporating historical facts in a narrative replete with action scenes, romance and intrigue - not to forget numerous twists and turns - has been a pleasure to experience..
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The perfect thriller. Intelligent and impossible to put down!, 17 Sep 2010
This review is from: The Death Instinct (Hardcover)
I loved the Interpretation of Murder so was really looking forward to Jed's new book and it has lived up to (and exceeded) my expectations! I think it's even better than his first book. I haven't read anything this good in ages. The characters are brilliant, the pace is so fast you practically rip through the pages - it's amazing that the historical detail adds to the writing and doesn't slow it down.

I recommend this to fans of The Interpretation of Murder and to anyone who hasn't read Jed Rubenfeld yet! Brilliant!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely brilliant!, 17 Sep 2011
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This review is from: The Death Instinct (Paperback)
I read this book hard on the heels of the author's first novel 'The Interpretation of Murder', because I so enjoyed his elegant writing style, attention to detail and ability to work what might have been Freud's apparent dislike of America into a thoroughly-entertaining first book. This, his second novel, is (in my humble opinion) even better than his first. It provides a lesson in American history woven deftly into a thoroughly-good fictional story and - as with the first novel - an explanation at the end of the book informs the reader as to what is fact and what is fiction (but don't go there until you've read the book, otherwise you'll spoil it for yourself). Also, I recommend reading the first novel before this one, because the protagonists in the first novel feature majorly in this, the second.

I was greatly impressed with this author but, sadly, he currently has no plans to write a third novel. I write this review in the hope that a swell in book sales will encourage him to put pen to paper again.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unputdownable, 6 Jun 2012
This review is from: The Death Instinct (Paperback)
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 and Marie Curie in this novel focusing on their areas of expertise which again adds to the feel of realness that surrounds this book as their theories and work are so famous. The Death Instinct really is a marvellously clever novel with just the right number of twists and turns without going too overboard, a perfect read and I only wish it would go on forever.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing follow up to a cracking first book, 7 Mar 2013
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This review is from: The Death Instinct (Paperback)
I've erred on the side of generosity with 3 stars here, I'd have like to have given 2.5. It wasn't awful but it certainly failed to live up to the excellent 'An Interpretation of Murder'. There was a Dan Brown-esque pace with the plot where there was constantly something happening and moving the plot forward so it should have been relatively easy to stick with it and finish. However, I really struggled to get through this due to some really cardboard characters and plot 'twists' that were both very signposted and yet unbelievable? I suspected I wasn't going to enjoy the book when we have one of the main characters in danger within the first few pages when we barely knew her and she'd probably uttered barely a dozen lines; I just didn't care about her enough to be bothered what happened to her? And that continued throughout the book, at no point did I feel any kind of concern for any of the main characters. It's safe to give this one a miss, imho.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping tale of intrigue and derring-do, 15 Nov 2014
By 
Ms. A. Brooke "Anne Brooke" (Godalming, Surrey) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Death Instinct (Paperback)
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 while to warm to Colette - perhaps because her actions in the beginning sometimes seem very strange and it's only much later on in the book that we realise what's actually driving her and what her real mission is. I'd also say that Rubenfeld isn't quite as spot-on with female characters as he is with male ones, but that's a minor quibble here.

Other aspects of this novel I really appreciated was the domestic relationship between Littlemore and his wife - there was one moment where I held my breath and dreaded the thought that Littlemore was going to be allowed to slip into a pointless cliche moment when he was working away from home for a while, but he acts true to himself (phew!) and the pointless cliche is dodged. Thank you, Mr Rubenfeld, and yes, I should have trusted you a little more - you've not let me down yet. There's also a lovely scene between Mr and Mrs Littlemore when he is faced with a terrible choice between money which would very much help his family, and his own personal honour. Kudos to Mrs Littlemore here for opting without any hesitation at all for the personal honour choice. This was a lovely marital scene which felt very real indeed.

Rübenfeld also plays teasingly with cliche when it comes to Colette's apparent relationship with the German officer she is trying to locate, but the scene when Younger pursues her out of love and discovers the real truth of the matter is excellently and breathtakingly done. It turned the whole book round on its head and I loved it. I always enjoy being so cleverly fooled by a writer - it's a real skill.

And, once again, as in Rubenfeld's earlier and also excellent novel, The Interpretation of Murder, we have the presence of Sigmund Freud who is trying to help Collette's brother Luc. Freud has some great and very witty scenes and I very much appreciated them. That said, I do wonder if the Freud factor is perhaps becoming something of a deus ex machina in this author's work, and for the next novel I could probably live without it.

Finally, there's also a great deal of political intrigue going on, which is very clever indeed - but I did tend to lose track every now and again - then again my particular focus as a reader is the relationships between the characters and so I wasn't greatly concerned about politics. I was more interested in the people here, who never let me down. My one other quibble is nothing to do with the book itself but its cover - I have to say I'm really rather bored with that back view of the man in a hat walking away into various scenes - it seems to be on all sorts of history and thriller books these days and I wish publishers would lay the pesky scene to rest once and for all!

Anyway, cover rant over. As I expected, the closing chapters of this book are very thrilling indeed, and the ending is deeply satisfying for all. I thoroughly recommend it.

5 stars. Literary thriller perfection.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exciting, intelligent page turner, 4 Jun 2013
By 
Keith Lawson (England) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Death Instinct (Paperback)
A well-written drama with interweaving whodunnit plots plus a romance. Informative about the period (post war to roaring twenties) with great characters. I particularly love James Littlemore (a detective with Holmesian skills) and would like a novel with him again. Nothing to disappoint in this book. It's great to have such intelligent plot management and wide-ranging issues running alongside. I think this would suit Jeffery Deaver and Sebastian Faulks readers particularly.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A intelligent and expertly-woven historical thriller, 17 Sep 2010
By 
This review is from: The Death Instinct (Hardcover)
The Death Instinct manages the clever feat of being a thrilling and exciting page-turner of a read, whilst being so incredibly crammed full of interesting historical facts and events.
It opens with a dramatic terrorist attack on Wall Street - like the other reviewers, I was not previously aware of this event and was fascinated to learn that it had taken place.
The author has woven together an intricate fabric of fact and fiction, creating for the reader his own intriguing version of events. New York c. 1920 is so expertly painted that I felt completely transported into the events and mind-set of the era.
By the time I reached the end of this fast-paced novel, I felt I had learned so much - all of which I wanted to share! Freud appears, as does Marie Curie, and there are so many stories entwined in the main plot, all of which culminate in a fantastic finale!
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2.0 out of 5 stars I must admit that I didn’t immediately love this book as I had hoped, 6 Dec 2014
This review is from: The Death Instinct (Paperback)
I must admit that I didn’t immediately love this book as I had hoped. The first third or so of the story is very slow paced and it’s taken me the better part of the year to work through it (while reading other books). The story starts with a bang – literally – and then deflates drastically to recount how the characters met and their journey from then to now. It’s slow going and I did think about giving up on the book entirely. I’m glad that I didn’t.

There are several side-plots to this novel that give it great length and are, to some extent, unnecessary. However, once you get past the initial lull, the action picks up again and there are some clever twists that I wasn’t able to see coming – this is, in part, because I was so very bored with the beginning of the story that I had forgotten some details.

I wasn’t overly fond of Younger as a character. He was quite violent and pushy towards Colette a lot of the times, and I didn’t understand how their relationship could ever evolve to what it became.

I wouldn’t really recommend this book to others, even though it does get better once you get further into it. I was disappointed with it overall, I have to say.
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The Death Instinct
The Death Instinct by Jed Rubenfeld (Paperback - 28 April 2011)
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