As a thriller, the book is passable. The plot is quick enough, the characters intriguing enough, the twists and turns surprising enough.
But as a detective novel, it is laughable. A good detective novel should make you want to solve the mystery along with the protagonist, and should also leave you ahh-ing and wow-ing when the "master detective" explains his brilliant deductions at the end. But no, this book has the opposite effect on me. The more it is explained at the end, the more incredulity I feel - I was like, "What the heck?!" I guess the author needs to hone his skills in concluding a detective story.
But I will still give it four stars, simply because of the exceptionally well-written introduction, which I quote here:
"Unhappy men are all alike. Some wound they suffered long ago, some wish denied, some blow to pride, some kindling spark of love put out by scorn - or worse, indifference - cleaves to them, or they to it, and so they live each day within a shroud of yesterdays. The happy man does not look back. He doesn't look ahead. He lives in the present."
"But there's the rub. The present can never deliver one thing: meaning. The ways of happiness and meaning are not the same. To find happiness, a man need only live in the moment; he need only live for the moment. But if he wants meaning - the meaning of his dreams, his secrets, his life - a man must reinhabit his past, however dark, and live for the future, however uncertain. Thus nature dangles happiness and meaning before us all, insisting only that we choose between them."
If only the above introduction were more relevant to the story......Continua
I was interested enough to read it to the end But I didn't find the writing inspired. I would not seek out another book by the same author.
There were interesting ideas about life, at the end. Discussion of whether we can be authentic or are always players. Also a few ideas challenging Freud's ideas about oedipal complex.
Set during Freud's visit to New York around the turn of the last century this novel works reasonably well,but the writing is at times very clumsy and uninvolving.Every now and then the narrative stops and the author presents us with a great slab of description of a building or a large chunk of local history.That apart,it's a reasonable plot, although not one that will tax your intelligence too much,and the characters are fairly well drawn without ever being compelling....Continua
This novel - with a far-fetched plot - is based to a large extent on the visit that Sigmund Freud made to New York in 1909. It starts off well and has the makings of a good detective story, but the psychoanalyses introduced into the plot tends to make it evolve into the realm of fantasy. I feel the plot is good but spoilt by the psychoanalyses. However, I enjoyed the detail about New York and, in particular, the construction details of the Manhattan Bridge....Continua
I expected Jed Rubenfeld's The Interpretation of Murder to be a thinking person's who's-the-killer novel, largely because he incorporated Sigmund Freud's 1909 trip to America as part and parcel of the story.
In the end, however, I was disappointed. May be my expectation was unreasonably high. But what I thought was wrong was that Rubenfeld really had a lot to improve as a novel writer.
The ingredients for success were all there: Freud and all the mistrust and in-fighting within the cult, the reinterpretation of the Oedipal complex, Nora the female protagonist which was loosely based on Freud's famous case Dora, and impeccable research on what high society life was like in America at the turn of the 20th Century.
But Rubenfeld didn't do a good job weaving all these elements together. Freud, psychoanalysis and Hamlet did not blend well with what was essentially a mainstream, best-seller-wannabe thriller with too many twists and turns. And he was no good in developing characters either. The male protagonist Dr Younger started as a young Freudian but ended as a solving-a-crime-while-involving-in-a-romance hero. Carl Jung was portraited in a caricature way. Rubenfeld's attempt to mislead readers into thinking that Jung was somehow involved in the murder/assault cases was not smartly done; quite laughable indeed I think.
Having said all that, it was still an enjoyable reading experience for me (the first two-thirds especially), since any novel with Freud as a major character is bound to be interesting.
I won't be surprised if a few years down the track, Rubenfeld decides to use more or less the same material to write a similar novel. I am sure the next attempt would be much more satisfactory....Continua