Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Interpretation of Murder by Jed Rubenfeld

The Interpretation of Murder by Jed Rubenfeld

It's 1909 in Manhattan and Sigmund Freud and a group of psychoanalysts is coming to his first visit to the USA to give a series of lectures. He meets up with an American follower of this theories, Stratham Younger. The two are quickly involved in a murder mystery when a prominent young woman is found murdered in her expensive apartment. She was tied up, whipped, and strangled to death. Knowing that this is going to be a big case, the mayor hands it over to the only person he can trust, the coroner. The coroner selects Detective Littlemore to help him solve the mystery. They don't get too far until there is an attempted murder on Nora Acton, another prominent young lady. Acton can't remember what happened to her though, so Younger is brought in to use psychology to help her remember.

The story is partial explanation of Frued's theories and partial murder mystery. Frueds theories are applied to the characters in the book to try to get back Acton's memory and understand her family issues.

I enjoyed the story but felt there were some parts hard to believe and some loose ends that weren't wrapped up. The author kept mentioning that fingerprints were being taken from crime scenes. Was fingerprinting even used in 1909? From what I can tell, New York started fingerprinting criminals in 1903 but I still find it hard to believe that detectives would be collecting prints in 1909 and using them to help solve their crimes. Also, Freud brought Carl Jung with him to America and Jung was starting to break away from Freud's teachings and acting weird. That story was never fully resolved though. I'm sure that could make an interesting story to itself.

First Line: "There is no mystery in happiness."


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