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Thursday, August 19, 2010

Book Review: The Interpretation of Murder by Jed Rubenfeld


I am not a huge mystery reader but I do like them occasionally, especially when they are historicals with famous people thrown in, so The Interpretation of Murder was right up my alley. Having the Flatiron Building (my old office) on the cover didn't hurt, although it doesn't feature in the book at all. (A lot of the action takes place in Gramercy Park, which is fairly close by.)
Dr. Younger (fictional) is meeting Drs. Freud and Jung in Manhattan when they arrive a week before their scheduled lectures as Clark University and Columbia respectively. Meanwhile, a young woman has been murdered in a prestigious apartment building while another has been attacked with the same M.O., and the latter woman has lost her voice and her memory. Dr. Younger is brought in to analyze the surviving woman in hopes of getting her memory to return (and voice). A young detective and an unappreciated coroner investigate the attacks (and that of a third woman) while the doctors discuss Freud's theories, Oedipal in particular. Dr. Younger also might be falling for his pretty patient, and is working through his own issues regarding his father and Hamlet. Meanwhile someone is trying to discredit Dr. Freud, and Dr. Jung is acting very bizarre.
All the storylines tied together well. The book did keep me guessing although it wasn't too intricate. I liked how the building of the Manhattan Bridge tied in to the story, although all the Oedipal discussions got a tad repetitive (but surely there were this many if not more in reality.) While the American visit of Freud and Jung is true, the murder and attacks are entirely fictional. I have always loved this era of turn-of-the-century New York filled with robber barons and High Society, and all the period elements felt authentic. I did find one element of the writing style a bit unusual. Dr. Younger tells the story partly in first person. But other parts of the story when he isn't present are told in third person. The switching back and forth was a little jarring at times, but probably would have flowed better if I'd been able to read it in longer stretches.
All in all, it was a satisfying historical mystery. I stayed up well past my bedtime to finish it!

1 comment:

Jeanne C. said...

Ooooohhh.... this is so going on my list! NYC mystery... LOVE IT!!!
Thanks!