Synopses & Reviews
A spellbinding literary thriller about terror, war, greed, and the darkest secrets of the human soul, by the author of the million-copy bestseller The Interpretation of Murder.
Under a clear blue September sky, America's financial center in lower Manhattan became the site of the largest, deadliest terrorist attack in the nation's history. It was September 16, 1920. Four hundred people were killed or injured. The country was appalled by the magnitude and savagery of the incomprehensible attack, which remains unsolved to this day.
The bomb that devastated Wall Street in 1920 explodes in the opening pages of The Death Instinct, Jed Rubenfeld's provocative and mesmerizing new novel. War veteran Dr. Stratham Younger and his friend Captain James Littlemore of the New York Police Department are caught on Wall Street on the fateful day of the blast. With them is the beautiful Colette Rousseau, a French radiochemist whom Younger meets while fighting in the world war. A series of inexplicable attacks on Rousseau, a secret buried in her past, and a mysterious trail of evidence lead Young, Littlemore, and Rousseau on a thrilling international and psychological journey-from Paris to Prague, from the Vienna home of Dr. Sigmund Freud to the corridors of power in Washington, D.C., and ultimately to the hidden depths of our most savage instincts. As the seemingly disjointed pieces of what Younger and Littlemore learn come together, the two uncover the shocking truth behind the bombing.
Blending fact and fiction in a brilliantly convincing narrative, Jed Rubenfeld has forged a gripping historical mystery about a tragedy that holds eerie parallels to our own time.
"The 1920 bombing of Wall Street, the most deadly act of terrorism in the United States until the Oklahoma blast of 1995, provides the framework for Rubenfeld's excellent follow-up to The Interpretation of Murder. The sweeping plot details the baffling hunt for those responsible for the death and injury of more than 400 New Yorkers. Numerous intriguing subplots snake out from the main story line, several of which bring such historical figures as Marie Curie, famous for her radium experiments, and Sigmund Freud, who had a significant role in the previous book, to life. Rubenfeld deftly wends his way through the shifting landscape with a historian's factual touch and a storyteller's eye for the dramatic and telling. Readers will be enthralled as Dr. Stratham Younger, the hero of The Interpretation of Murder--aided by his beautiful fiancÃ©e, scientist Colette Rousseau, and Det. James Littlemore--manages to solve the Wall Street bombing, something that the real authorities never did. (Jan.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright PWyxz LLC)
"A deadly terrorist attack rocks downtown Manhattan in September...1920. Rubenfeld's gripping novel revolves around the real-life Wall Street bombing and will have you enthralled from page 1."
-Entertainment Weekly Must List
""Brilliantly concocted and more than just a little eerie. The fictional and actual events surrounding the 1920 bombing are as relevant today as they were nearly a century ago."
"This novel is great ... Jed Rubenfeld's tremendous follow-up to his 2006 novel, The Interpretation of Murder, bustles with kidnapping, knife throwing, gun fighting, poisoning, bank robbery, corruption. The Death Instinct is that rare combo platter: a blast to read - you'll be counting how few pages you have left with dread, and you'll do this before you're halfway done - and hefty enough to stay with you. There's a steady beat of intrigue and confusion and explanations you wouldn't have guessed."
-The New York Times
"Intelligent, absorbing and provocative."
-The Seattle Times
"Rubenfeld's debut, The Interpretation of Murder (2006), proved his skillful use of historical detail to create a compelling tale of psychological suspense. He's only gotten better."
-Library Journal (starred review)
"Jed Rubenfeld delivers a soul-searching narrative with complex and memorable characters. Not only is The Death Instinct a suspenseful story that pulls readers into its political and scientific intrigue, it is also a provocative meditation on the psychological and emotional ripple effects of war and terrorism."
-Matthew Pearl, author of The Dante Club and The Poe Shadow
"In The Death Instinct, Jed Rubenfeld masterfully weaves a sweeping story that moves from New York City to Paris to Vienna and back, illuminating with shocking and harrowing clarity the aftershock effects of the Great War on an entire generation. Anyone with a taste for mystery, political intrigue, and love in desperate circumstances will devour this enthralling novel."
-Katherine Howe, author of The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane
"The Death Instinct is a terrifically smart, tumbling roller coaster of a novel, full of mysterious twists and turns, murders, conspiracies, dreams of revenge, and ultimately a very human redemption. Beginning with one of the great unsolved crimes in American history?the 1920 bombing of Wall Street?author Jed Rubenfeld takes the reader on a fast-forward journey through the politics and police work, science and psychoanalysis of the of the early nineteenth century. The characters are so well realized, the conspiracies so wonderfully twisted, and the rendering of time and place so well done that readers will find the story hard to put down?and harder to forget"
-Deborah Blum, author of The Poisoner's Handbook: Murder and the Birth of Forensic Medicine in Jazz Age New York
"A well-crafted story, skillfully told, with more twists than a pig's tail, and a lot more entertaining."
-Anne Perry, author of the Thomas Pitt and William Monk novels
From the international bestselling author-"a sprawling and ambitious literary mystery" (The Seattle Times).
From a true and shocking event-the bombing of lower Manhattan in September 1920-Jed Rubenfeld weaves a twisting and thrilling work of fiction as a physician, a female radiochemist, and a police official come to believe that the inexplicable attack is only part of a larger plan. It's a conspiracy that takes them from Paris to Prague, from the Vienna home of Sigmund Freud to the corridors of power in Washington, D.C., and ultimately to the depths of our most savage human instincts where there lies the shocking truth behind that fateful day.
About the Author
Jed Rubenfeld is the author of the international bestseller The Interpretation of Murder. He is a professor at Yale University Law School and is one of the country’s foremost experts on constitutional law. He wrote his undergraduate thesis at Princeton University on Sigmund Freud. He lives in Connecticut with his family.