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The Interpretation of Murder – Jed Rubenfeld

My Book club is reading The Interpretation of Murder. One of the member’s library suggested it.

My overwhelming impression is one of confusion. At first I found it compelling, but then I couldn’t seem to get to the end. Here’s the blurb …

In this ingenious, suspenseful historical thriller, Sigmund Freud is drawn into the mind of a sadistic killer who is savagely attacking Manhattan’s wealthiest heiresses
Inspired by Sigmund Freud’s only visit to America, The Interpretation of Murderis an intricate tale of murder and the mind’s most dangerous mysteries. It unfurls on a sweltering August evening in 1909 as Freud disembarks from the steamship George Washington, accompanied by Carl Jung, his rival and protege. Across town, in an opulent apartment high above the city, a stunning young woman is found dangling from a chandelier—whipped, mutilated, and strangled. The next day, a second beauty—a rebellious heiress who scorns both high society and her less adventurous parents—barely escapes the killer. Yet Nora Acton, suffering from hysteria, can recall nothing of her attack. Asked to help her, Dr. Stratham Younger, America’s most committed Freudian analyst, calls in his idol, the Master himself, to guide him through the challenges of analyzing this high-spirited young woman whose family past has been as complicated as his own. The Interpretation of Murderleads readers from the salons of Gramercy Park, through secret passages, to Chinatown—even far below the currents of the East River where laborers are building the Manhattan Bridge. As Freud fends off a mysterious conspiracy to destroy him, Younger is drawn into an equally thrilling adventure that takes him deep into the subterfuges of the human mind. Â Richly satisfying, elegantly crafted, The Interpretation of Murder marks the debut of a brilliant, spectacularly entertaining new storyteller.

I found the characters convincing, but the plot was a bit too clever for me. Rubenfeld does a great job of creating early 20th century New York. I enjoyed all of the references to the buildings, constructing the Manhattan Bridge and the social niceties (in fact that bit reminded me of Edith Wharton).  There are many twists and turns in this story (too many for me) and I don’t want to spoil it for anyone by revealing the ending. I will, however, say that, despite my confusion, I did think it was a reasonable ending.

I think this novel would make a great movie and I might even read it again to see if I can follow all the twists.

Here’s the novel’s website …


A reading group guide …


and another review …


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