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Interpretation Of Murder, The by Jed…

Interpretation Of Murder, The (original 2006; edition 2006)

by Jed Rubenfeld

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2,196852,954 (3.33)75
Title:Interpretation Of Murder, The
Authors:Jed Rubenfeld
Info:Headline Review (2006), Paperback
Collections:Your library

Work details

The Interpretation of Murder by Jed Rubenfeld (2006)

  1. 60
    The Alienist by Caleb Carr (bookmomo)
    bookmomo: Also about psychological crime solving in NYC at the beginning of the twentieth century, with Teddy Roosevelt this time.
  2. 20
    Freud's Alphabet: A Novel by Jonathan Tel (KayCliff)
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    Ragtime by E. L. Doctorow (Booksloth)
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    Dark Hearts of Chicago by William Horwood (Booksloth)
  5. 01
    Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by Amy Chua (JuliaMaria)
    JuliaMaria: Amy Chua ist die Ehefrau von Jed Rubenfeld. Die Ehe wird eigentlich ausgeklammert in dem Buch der "Tiger-Mutter". Nur in einer Szene wird beschrieben, wie sie bei einem Besuch in London anlässlich der Preisverleihung für das Buch "The Interpretation of Murder" verzweifelt ein Klavier zum Üben für die Töchter gesucht haben.… (more)
  6. 01
    The Poe Shadow by Matthew Pearl (edwinbcn)

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Showing 1-5 of 81 (next | show all)
Based on Sigmund Freud’s only trip to the U.S. (which left him calling Americans ‘savages’ amongst other choice phrases) this is a literate murder mystery set in Victorian New York high society. Someone is offing young women, but one of his victims survives. The problem is she can’t remember what happened. The good news is that Dr Freud is just off the boat from Europe and he has created something called psychoanalysis that might help the girl remember who attacked her. The real life events meld seemlessly with the fictional (though Rubenfeld separates the two in the endnotes for the curious). Meticulously researched, this is an unputdownable novel with breathing characters, a fast-paced plot and intelligent dialogue. ( )
  vlcraven | Feb 16, 2015 |
I really enjoyed most of the book, however, the ending was a little disappointing: a little convoluted as far as the murder mystery goes, and a little simplified as far as Freud and Jung's relationship goes. Some of the story lines never developed into anything (Jung's story line). However, the first 3/4 of the book are really enjoyable: NY architecture, history, society... ( )
  E. | Jun 28, 2014 |
This was the second book in a row that I read to have a cover blurb comparing it to Caleb Carr's The Alienist; the other was Harold Schechter's Nevermore, about Edgar Allan Poe and Davy Crockett ratiocinating together. In this instance the comparison is a little more apt, since the detection is set early in the 20th century and involves not just one but a bunch of mentalists -- in this instance psychoanalysts, among them Freud, Jung and Ferenczi, visiting the US so that Freud could deliver a series of lectures and receive an honorary degree. Foremost among these men, in terms of the novel, is the youthful, tyro US psychoanalyst Dr Stratham Younger; it is he who, with ambitious young NYPD detective James Littlemore, solves the case of a young woman found seemingly murdered by a sexual sadist in a doughty Upper West Side apartment block, with a second, similar but fortunately not lethal attack on another young woman soon after in a house adjacent to Gramercy Park. That survivor, Nora Acton, becomes Younger's primary love interest, even as he recognizes that what's going on is, at least on her part, merely transference.

The tale's carried along often with Younger as first-person narrator, often in traditional novelistic third person, and sometimes in the form of highly entertaining third-person infodump, filling in historical and/or psychoanalytic details. In any of these three modes, the text's enormously readable and the mystery engrossing; more accurately, it's the unraveling of the mystery, with layers of understanding of the truth of it being gradually revealed, that engrosses, for the mystery itself is not what it seemed at the outset. In parallel there's an unveiling of the true depths of Nora Acton's personality, through both Younger's stumbling psychoanalytic efforts and his direct romantic interest, that's equally involving. As background we have two linked sets of politicking going on, one concerning the administration of NYC, the other being rooted in the antagonism of traditional US mentalists toward the upstart Viennese discipline with its focus on matters better swept under the carpet.

Unfortunately, the explanation of what's really been going on comes as something of an anticlimax, since it piles implausibility upon implausibility; the fact that it has to be fleshed out to fill perhaps thirty or forty pages in an attempt to stop us throwing the book at the wall in outright disbelief is an indication of the problem. Luckily Rubenfeld's prose was still sufficiently smooth to keep me reading, but it meant that I came away from the book with a far less favourable opinion of it than I'd have thought possible an hour earlier. But it's a sign of the book's strength otherwise that I was genuinely disappointed to discover from the notes at the back that both Stratham Younger and Jimmy Littlemore were, unlike Freud, Jung and the rest (whose roles are fairly minor), entirely fictional characters; they were both that well created on the page.

Rubenfeld has published a follow-up, The Death Instinct, and I'll be keeping an eye out for it.

( )
  JohnGrant1 | Aug 11, 2013 |
I found the beginning of this book quite boring -- it's well researched, I think, and the descriptions are vivid, but I just didn't get into it. I didn't get close to the characters or feel particularly excited about the plot.

Doesn't help that I'm not terribly interested in Freud and his theories -- books where famous writers are the detectives are much more in my line. ( )
  shanaqui | Apr 9, 2013 |
Overall, I did enjoy this story. It reminded me of "The Alienist" and "Angel of Darkness" by Caleb Carr, which I loved. I like that turn of the century time period. I like the mystery involved. But I felt like the last 20 pages or so was just to explain everything to the reader. It didn't do the actual story justice. I actually really liked the mystery part. I found myself constantly guessing and then changing my mind. ( )
  pam.enser | Apr 1, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 81 (next | show all)
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Jed Rubenfeldprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Zuppet, RobertaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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There is no mystery to happiness.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0312427050, Paperback)

It has been said that a mystery novel is "about something" and a literary tale is not. The Interpretation of Murder has legitimate claims to both genres. It is most definitely about something, and also replete with allusions to and explications of Shakespeare, to the very beginnings of psychology, to the infighting between psychoanalytic giants--all written in a style that an author with literary aspirations might well envy.

In 1909, Drs. Freud and Jung visit Manhattan. They no sooner arrive when a young socialite is murdered, followed by another attempted murder, bearing the same characteristics. In the second case, the victim lives. She has lost her voice and cannot remember anything. The young doctor, Stratham Younger, who has invited Freud to speak at his University, soon involves Dr. Freud in the case. Freud, saying that Nora's case will require a time committment that he does not have, turns her over to Younger. The rudiments of Nora's case are based on Freud's famous Dora, complete with sexual perversions, convoluted twists and turns and downright lies.

That is just one of the myriad plot lines in the novel, all of which are intricate, interesting and plausible. All it takes for all of the incidents to be true is a great deal of bad will--and it is abundant here! There are politicians who are less than statesmen, city employees at work for themselves and not the city, doctors who will do anything to undermine Freud's theories, thereby saving the neurotics for themselves, and opportunists at every level of society, seeking psychological or material advantage. Carl Jung is portrayed by turns as secretive, mysterious, odd, and just plain nuts, while Freud remains a gentleman whose worst problem is his bladder.

Not the least interesting aspect of the book is all the turn-of-the-century New York lore: bridge building, great mansions, the Astor versus Vanderbilt dustup, immigrant involvement, fabulous entertaining, auto versus carriage. Despite the tangle of tales, debut author Jed Rubenfeld finishes it with writerly dexterity--and the reader is sorry to see it all end. --Valerie Ryan

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:07:55 -0400)

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'The Interpretation of Murder' is an inventive tour de force inspired by Sigmund Freud's 1909 visit to America, accompanied by protege and rival Carl Jung.

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