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The Interpretation of Murder: The Richard and Judy Bestseller Paperback – 15 Jan 2007
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Experienced readers of crime and thrillers tend to stifle a yawn these days when they encounter a mountain of hype about a new book or author. But the fevered word of mouth that has been generated by Jed Rubenfelds The Interpretation of Murder is, for once, justified. This is a remarkably ambitious book, taking on a powerful suspenseful narrative, assiduously researched historical detail and a brilliant evocation of time and character. It's not surprising that the book has already been sold in 20 different countries, and is already something of an international publishing phenomenon. The secret, of course, is in plotting, and few carry this off as adroitly as the author does here. But there is some wonderful historical detail here also, and a conjuring up of real-life characters that is very intelligently done.
Despite the outward success of his visit to the USA, Sigmund Freud always spoke as if some trauma had befallen him there. He blamed the country for physical ailments that afflicted him long before his visit. Freuds biographers have been bemused by his reaction, wondering whether some terrible unknown event might have happened in America that could explain this. The Interpretation of Murder is strikingly written literary thriller constructed around Freuds American visit. An attractive young debutante is discovered bound, whipped and strangled in a luxurious New York apartment and another society beauty narrowly escapes the same fate. But nothing about the attacks--or the victims--is as it seems.
--Barry Forshaw --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
'A spectacular debut... fiendishly clever... a fascinating recreation of a golden age in which much of the New York of today is recognisable' (Guardian)
'Rubenfeld writes beautifully, his style skillfully evoking the period, as he weaves all these threads into an intriguing mystery with a fascinating glimpse into the early days of psychoanalysis' (Sunday Telegraph)
'An unusually intelligent novel which entertains, informs and intrigues on several levels' (The Times)
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Top customer reviews
It's not a modern-style crime thriller, though. So if you want fast-paced action you're better off with something a bit less substantial and a little less absorbed in its history and the talking cure.
I thoroughly enjoyed the historical backdrop of New York society and the early progression of Freudian thinking. The scenes with Jung are delightful (especially as he and Freud seek to out-analyse each other), as is the grimy background of 'building America' which illustrates the whole story.
When you get down to the plot it's less impressive, which is why I marked this novel down by a star. In fact the plot feels as if it's really only there to let the author romp around with his interpretation of the characters and the time they lived in. The mystery has all the requisite twists and turns... but they didn't hold my attention as much as the sub-plots did!
If you want some holiday reading with a bit more meat to it than the usual crusader/holy grail tosh, then this is recommended. The price is absurdly low at the moment too, so you get a good few days entertainment for your money!
But if you prefer blood, guts, serial killers and so on, then this one isn't for you...
It’s 1909 and a young society lady has been murdered and shortly after that another young beauty is assaulted in a similar manner, leaving her mute and in a state of amnesia about the attack. Dr. Younger is called in to psychoanalyse her in the hope of finding out what happened. At the same time Freud and Jung are visiting New York for a series of lectures and a mysterious triumvirate seem hell bent on stirring things up in the psychiatric world. Meanwhile the short tempered and underappreciated coroner Hugel and an idealistic detective Littlewood set about trying to solve the murder. I’m still partially baffled as to just how the denoument all fits together, but suffice to say there are multiple strands to it. Some of the protagonists’ actions simply defied belief (the trunk in the cassion in particular).
Rubenfeld comments in the post novel notes that he put particular effort into detail and world building and getting architectural and period details right. The thing is, this is a book, not a screen play, and a lot of the detail simply adds nothing to the story. What really irked me though was his endless ramblings on analysing Hamlet by referring to a myriad of different interpretations of the Oedipal complex. Firstly, I didn’t care, secondly, the complex is discredited, thirdly, I haven’t read Hamlet (Othello, Julius Ceaser and Midsummer Night Comedy, yes) and so it has no reference point for me and worst of all had absolutely no relevance to the plot.
Overall, I would just about recommend it, but it's not great.
How disappointing! I'm sure that a lot of research went into the characters, place and time that this book was set in as expressed by the author, but it is no excuse for the content being such a bore. The crux of the story seemed weak, though not too predictable there were also no 'aha' moments. The characters were not all that likeable and the caisson scene that was meant to, no doubt, be highly exhilarating made me shake my head refusing to believe that two men could escape like that completely unscathed like in a blockbuster film.
The involvement of these famous characters like Freud and Jung seemed to be poorly balanced compared to the mystery being investigated. There was so much talk about psychoanalysis, Freud and friends that set a good atmosphere at the beginning only to feel terribly redundant by the end. There are so many details you pick up thinking there will be a use and relevance for them, only to find out it's a researched tidbit by the author (who has shifted timelines and events to fit everything into his book anyway, mixing up truth and fiction in the process.)
Not what I expected!
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I'm kind of late to the party where this book is concerned.Read more