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THE DEATH INSTINCT by Jed Rubenfeld

THE DEATH INSTINCT

By Jed Rubenfeld

Pub Date: Jan. 20th, 2011
ISBN: 978-1-59448-782-8
Publisher: Riverhead

Terrorism, political conspiracies and financial shenanigans combine in the latest from Rubenfeld (The Interpretation of Murder, 2006, etc.).

The year is 1920, and it's a beautiful September day in New York City. Dr. Stratham Younger and Captain James Littlemore are escorting Colette Rousseau to lunch. Younger is a physician, a jaded veteran of the killing fields of World War I. Rousseau is a radiochemist, a technician trained by Madame Curie to use portable X-ray machines on the battlefields to diagnose the wounded. Suddenly a bomb explodes on Wall Street. Dozens are dead and hundreds are wounded. Littlemore is a police detective, and soon he and his friends are caught up in the mystery. The Federal Government blames anarchists. Thomas Lamont of J.P. Morgan Bank links the explosion to a banking embargo against Mexico. That evening Rousseau and Luc, her young brother, are mysteriously, briefly kidnapped. Rousseau then convinces Younger to sail with her to Europe to seek help from Dr. Sigmund Freud for Luc, mute since witnessing German soldiers murder his parents. There are hints of a romance between Younger and Rousseau, but Rousseau is worried about her brother, and she's also determined to find a former German soldier from her past. History buffs will enjoy Rubenfeld's introductions to assorted characters—Marie Curie, Serb assassins and movers-and-shakers from Woodrow Wilson's cabinet. Adding political and financial corruption to uncover, manipulators to expose and a war with Mexico to prevent might make the plot seem too complex, but no loose end is left untied, and only one or two insignificant anachronisms should trouble the most sophisticated reader.

An intriguing literary mystery mixing fact and fiction.