Tuesday, May 31, 2011

{read: literary thriller} The Death Instinct by Jed Rubenfeld

This historical mystery starts with the bombing of Wall Street in 1920, the first terrorist act committed on U.S soil. The mystery of who did it was never solved, although Rubenfeld offers a compelling solution in this novel. The backstory spans WWI and the plot is pretty wide-ranging, including Freud and his study of the psyche and war neuroses, Madame Curie and the discovery of and uses for radium, and the use of X-rays to improve medicine. The two protagonists, Dr. Stratham Younger and Detective Littlemore, in some ways reminded me of Clive Cussler's famous duo (Dirk Pitt and Al Giordino) since they manage to get out of some pretty sticky situations. The plot was fresh and kept me guessing as it went along, and Rubenfeld addressed many different plot angles in this wide-ranging novel.

The pace felt a little slow to me, especially at first, although it picked up as it went along. There were so many loose ends to address at the end that I had forgotten about all of them. I kept expecting it to be finished, only to turn the page and then remember that there was this piece, and that piece, and then that one. I think he touched on them all, but to be honest I wouldn't have remembered if he skipped a few of the more minor details.

The Death Instinct by Jed Rubenfeld (Penguin Group, 2010)
My rating: 3 stars

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