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The Death Instinct: A Novel

Average Rating 3.5
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Most Helpful Favorable Review

10 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

Heartwreching and Heartpounding!

At 12:01 pm on September 16, 1920, a blast rocked the Financial District in New York City. To date, this crime has remained unsolved, but it is most often attributed to Galleanists (Italian anarchists). With 38 people killed and 400 others injured, the blast was the mos...
At 12:01 pm on September 16, 1920, a blast rocked the Financial District in New York City. To date, this crime has remained unsolved, but it is most often attributed to Galleanists (Italian anarchists). With 38 people killed and 400 others injured, the blast was the most horrific act of terrorism on US soil up to that point. Or was it? Dr. Stratham Younger and his friend NYPD Captain James Littlemore are in the area on the day of the blast. From the beginning, both feel there is more to this attack than meets the eye. As the story begins to unravel, their lives are on the line as they race to find out who is responsible for the attack. In his novel The Death Instinct, Jed Rubenfeld weaves fiction and truth to create a different story of what occurred that day. With strong characters battling their own demons while wading through political and financial intrigue, Rubenfeld's novel is in turns heart-wrenching and heart-pounding. When I first started reading, I have to say that I was a little thrown off by what seemed to be innocuous bits of information thrown into the middle of the story line. When reading, it's probably a tendency to read those sections, think "huh?" and move on. After completing the novel, I realized there is a lot to be gleaned from those tidbits and nuggets that seem to be thrown into the mix with no rhyme or reason. At the end, I was still left with some that didn't seem to fit. However, when I finished reading, I had several "So THAT's why he wrote it" moments. The novel did take me some time to get into. There are sections throughout the novel where the storyline seems to drag. I was waiting for an outcome to a specific instance related in the story, and it took a lengthy time to arrive at that outcome in some instances. Overall, I really did enjoy reading Rubenfeld's novel. It is a solid story with enough intrigue and subterfuge to keep you guessing throughout. He keeps you interested by not giving information too early. It was late into the book before I started making connections for the story to play out. For me, that's the mark of a great suspense writer. This book was provided as a free review copy from the publisher.

posted by irishbookworm21 on January 15, 2011

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Most Helpful Critical Review

1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

Fact and Fiction

Following the very favorably received “The Interpretation of Murder” with this ambitious novel using many of the same lead characters, including Dr. Sigmund Freud, and mixing the story with real historical personages and events, the author has created a historical piec...
Following the very favorably received “The Interpretation of Murder” with this ambitious novel using many of the same lead characters, including Dr. Sigmund Freud, and mixing the story with real historical personages and events, the author has created a historical piece of fiction with several mysteries intertwined. It begins with the detonation of a bomb-laden horse-drawn wagon at Broad and Wall Streets, the results of which can be seen today in the pockmarked outer wall of the House of Morgan opposite The New York Stock Exchange.

While the perpetrators of the explosion have never been identified, nor the reason for the deed exposed, the plot attempts to propose a rationale, including a cast of characters, behind it. Along the way, other themes emerge, including the horrors on the World War I battlefront, the emergence of Freud’s controversial theory of a death instinct in humans, Madame Curie and the effects of radium, kidnapping, assassins, and various other developments.

Well-plotted in a grand manner, the novel combines several genres and should appeal to a broad range of readers. It weaves into its themes mystery, thriller and history. What more can be said, except to heartily recommend?

posted by tedfeit0 on June 6, 2012

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  • Posted January 15, 2011

    Heartwreching and Heartpounding!

    At 12:01 pm on September 16, 1920, a blast rocked the Financial District in New York City. To date, this crime has remained unsolved, but it is most often attributed to Galleanists (Italian anarchists). With 38 people killed and 400 others injured, the blast was the most horrific act of terrorism on US soil up to that point. Or was it? Dr. Stratham Younger and his friend NYPD Captain James Littlemore are in the area on the day of the blast. From the beginning, both feel there is more to this attack than meets the eye. As the story begins to unravel, their lives are on the line as they race to find out who is responsible for the attack. In his novel The Death Instinct, Jed Rubenfeld weaves fiction and truth to create a different story of what occurred that day. With strong characters battling their own demons while wading through political and financial intrigue, Rubenfeld's novel is in turns heart-wrenching and heart-pounding. When I first started reading, I have to say that I was a little thrown off by what seemed to be innocuous bits of information thrown into the middle of the story line. When reading, it's probably a tendency to read those sections, think "huh?" and move on. After completing the novel, I realized there is a lot to be gleaned from those tidbits and nuggets that seem to be thrown into the mix with no rhyme or reason. At the end, I was still left with some that didn't seem to fit. However, when I finished reading, I had several "So THAT's why he wrote it" moments. The novel did take me some time to get into. There are sections throughout the novel where the storyline seems to drag. I was waiting for an outcome to a specific instance related in the story, and it took a lengthy time to arrive at that outcome in some instances. Overall, I really did enjoy reading Rubenfeld's novel. It is a solid story with enough intrigue and subterfuge to keep you guessing throughout. He keeps you interested by not giving information too early. It was late into the book before I started making connections for the story to play out. For me, that's the mark of a great suspense writer. This book was provided as a free review copy from the publisher.

    10 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted December 7, 2011

    Very informative and an excellent read.

    This book is very well written and tells the reader in the form of a novel about the bombing on Wall Street in the 1920s. It is uncanny how real the scenes are and the story flows rapidly. It is history but in the format of a novel.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 28, 2011

    Good

    I read this book because I saw the author on a talk show and found out that it is about a terrorist attack that the ordinary person has never heard of. It happened on September 16, 1920. Jed Rubenfeld has taken an event in history and turned it into an interesting fictional read. Some of the characters are historical (Madame Curie, Sigmund Freud), but most are the products of the author's imagination. It's not the best-written book I've ever read, but I do recommend it for character development and interest.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 11, 2012

    Enjoyed this detective/mystery romp through 1920's NYC , D.C. an

    Enjoyed this detective/mystery romp through 1920's NYC , D.C. and Austria/Hungary. Enjoyed the characters, both real (Freud, Curie) and fictitious. In no way was this a boring book. Good premise, who committed the still unsolved 1920 Wall St. bombing? So glad I didn't read the reviews here before reading this book, might have been turned off but it's a good quick read and kept me interested to see how they would get out of all the situations they end up in.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 16, 2012

    awful

    this book is horribly written and boring as hell....

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 18, 2012

    wonderful

    Rubenfeld/Liss/Larson/Baynard

    Boom... best historical fiction writers out there.

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  • Posted March 26, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Engrossing historical mystery - a thoroughly satisfying read!

    Jed Rubenfeld's The Death Instinct is a detective novel set in 1920s New York. World War I is over (but the Roaring 20s haven't arrived) and factories are closing, unemployment is rampant and Prohibition has just been imposed. In this environment of desperation and dissatisfaction, Wall Street explodes. New York City suffers the most destructive and deadly terrorist attack on US soil. Enter the war veteran and wealthy Boston Brahmin Dr. Stratham Younger, his colleague NY detective Jimmy Littlemore, and the beautiful and mysterious French physicist Colette Rousseau.

    In The Death Instinct, Rubenfeld has taken a historical event that remains unsolved - and created an engrossing tale of injustice, mystery, and adventure. Stratham, Colette and Jimmy follow the evidence from the streets of New York to the corridors of power in the Capitol to devastated Vienna and the war torn villages in Europe. They meet with Sigmund Freud, Madame Curie, and JP Morgan's right hand man, Lamont - and take readers on an engrossing and satisfying escape.

    ISBN-10: 1594487820 - Hardcover $26.99
    Publisher: Riverhead Hardcover; Reprint edition (January 20, 2011), 464 pages.
    Review copy provided by the publisher.

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  • Posted February 24, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    A VERY FUN READ

    I picked up this book and was immediately intrigued by Rubenfeld's choice to utilize the bombing of the world trade center as a start point for this story. This turned out to be a really fun read for me, great story, I love how the book became more of a story about people and less about the bombing. I would recommend this to others.

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