The Interpretation of Murder Book Summary and Study Guide

Detailed plot synopsis reviews of The Interpretation of Murder

A young man, Dr. Streatham-Younger, one of the first psychoanalysts in USA in 1909 is more than excited to be meeting Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung as they visit the US on a speaking schedule.
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The pair are hardly off the boat when a curious murder is discovered and the three doctors are brought in to try to determine the reasoning behind the death.
Working to the same end is a brash young New York detective, Officer Littlemore, and the local coroner. During the examination of the superficially mutilated body of the yourg girl, another murder victim comes to their attention, this time, having successfully escaped the murderer's final intent. This is Nora Acton, the young and beautiful daughter of a wealthy Manhattan family.
Nora is very friendly with another similarly well-off family and it soon becomes clear that the husband within this family is the likely culprit.
Dr. Younger is assigned to assess Nora's mental state as the story she tells, after feigning loss of memory and, indeed, speech, leaves many questions unanswered.
Officer Littlemore pursues his own line of sleuthing, which, when mixed with the information the Doctor provides leads them both to a huge construction site and the building of a new fly-over bridge, all the work being carried out by the husband's firm of engineers and builders.
The story deepens when the first murder victim's body disappears from the morgue and yet another body of a young girl, also connected to Nora through charity work, is found dumped in a high-rise but low-class appartment. Not content with these conundrums, he introduces an escapee from a sanitorium for the insane intent on a murderous pursuit and all in all, the reader is left bemused by the possible outcome.
With an approaching near-death experience for both the main investigators deep under the Manhattan waterline, they both deserve a successful outcome to solving the case. Suffice it to say that Officer Littlemore finds the right answers, Dr. Younger finds the right girl and they both find the murderous, though well-hidden, perpetrator, amongst the streets and estates of Manhattan.
The review of this Book prepared by michael

In 1909, Sigmund Freud paid his only visit to the U.S. and returned to his native Vienna convinced that Americans were "savages." What happened during his stay here to make him feel this way? This is at the heart of "The Interpretation of Murder," the debut work of fiction by Jed Rubenfeld.
Shortly after Freud and real-life protege Carl Jung arrive in New York, two wealthy, beautiful women are brutally assaulted in similar acts of passion mixed with rage. One dies, and the other, a 17-year-old heiress named Nora Acton (probably based on Freud's famous patient Dora), survives but cannot remember the details of the attack. Under Freud's aegis, Stratham Younger, a handsome, young alienist (what early psychiatrists were called), tries to resuscitate Nora's memory. While Freud admittedly plays only a background role, he does get to express his ideas, especially his staunchly held beliefs about sexual repression and the Oedipal Complex.
At the same time that Dr. Younger tries to break through Miss Acton's hysterical paralysis, a savvy junior police inspector and the local coroner try to track down the sadistic killer. Clues lead them into the rarifed drawing rooms and political circles of the superrich and powerful.
The review of this Book prepared by Elana Starr

Chapter Analysis of The Interpretation of Murder

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Plot & Themes

Composition of Book descript. of violence and chases 10%Planning/preparing, gather info, debate puzzles/motives 40%Feelings, relationships, character bio/development 30%How society works & physical descript. (people, objects, places) 20% Tone of story    -   depressing/sad How difficult to spot villain?    -   Challenging Time/era of story:    -   1900-1920's What % of story relates directly to the mystery, not the subplot?    -   30% Murder of certain profession?    -   the rich! Misc. Murder Plotlets    -   Big focus on autopsies Kind of investigator    -   psychiatrist investigator Any non-mystery subplot?    -   feelings towards family/friends Crime Thriller    -   Yes Murder Mystery (killer unknown)    -   Yes Amnesia story?    -   Yes Is Romance a MAJOR (25%+) part of story?    -   Yes

Main Character

Gender    -   Male Profession/status:    -   doctor    -   psychiatrist Age:    -   20's-30's Ethnicity/Race    -   White/American


United States    -   Yes The US:    -   Northeast City?    -   Yes City:    -   New York    -   wealthy Misc setting    -   fancy mansion

Writing Style

Accounts of torture and death?    -   moderately detailed references to deaths    -   very gorey references to deaths/dead bodies and torture Explicit sex in book?    -   Yes What kind of sex:    -   descript of kissing    -   touching of anatomy    -   actual description of sex    -   rape (yeech!) Unusual forms of death    -   asphyxiation Unusual form of death?    -   Yes Amount of dialog    -   roughly even amounts of descript and dialog    -   significantly more descript than dialog

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Jed Rubenfeld Books Note: the views expressed here are only those of the reviewer(s).
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