Crime Mystery Reviews Thriller

The Interpretation of Murder – Jed Rubenfeld

13 February 2019
The Interpretation of Murder Book Cover The Interpretation of Murder
Jed Rubenfeld

'Manhattan, 1909. On the morning after Sigmund Freud arrives in New York on his first --and only -- Visit to the United Sates, a stunning debutante is found bound and strangled in her penthouse appartment, high above Broadway. the following night, another beautiful heiress, Nora Acton, is discovered tied to a chandelier in her parents' home, viciously wounded and unable to speak or recall her ordeal. Soon Freud and his American disciple, Stratham Younger, are enlisted to help Miss Acton recover her memory, and to piece together the killer's identity. It is a riddle that will test their skills to the limit, and lead them on a thrilling journey -- into the darkest places of the city, and of the human mind' --rear cover.

The Interpretation of Murder is an intelligent and considered crime thriller, probably trying to create the first instance of ‘serial killer profiling’ before the science was developed. The murder of a young woman is followed by similar attempt using the same modus operandi, however, this lady (Miss Acton) survives but it leaves her with amnesia. Detective Littlemore needs to find out what she knows before the killer strikes again or comes back to finish the job. Littlemore works with her doctor, Dr Younger, to assist in the case. Dr Younger is acquainted with Sigmund Freud and quite fortuitously involves him to help in the case. This creates an interesting and intriguing perspective and introduces a new dynamic to the typical murder mystery. I felt quite drawn to the idea that Freud could have assisted in a murder investigation. I can’t attest to the accuracy of the science of psychoanalysis but from a plot perspective, I felt it was weaved in quite well and wasn’t heavily applied. I quite like the notion that Freud when visiting New York in 1909, assisted a murder investigation using his newly famed techniques.

There is also a great attempt to recreate the atmosphere and landscape of New York City at the turn of the last century and perhaps this was overemphasised, almost to the point that the author had invested a lot of time researching that period, and wasn’t going to be short-changed.

The narrative has a more sedate pace than most murder mysteries but I think that’s the pace of a deep-thinking and analysing Freud. Freud’s contribution provides some benefit in solving the crime and finding the killer.

This wasn’t the best murder mystery but still provided an entertaining read. I would recommend the book.

Peter Donnelly

Founder of The Reading Desk, supporting readers, authors, publishers and book industry. Top Reviewer on Amazon, Goodreads, and NetGalley

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