The Death Instinct by Jed Rubenfeld

June 23, 2011

This book is part of the Richard and Judy Summer book club 2011, which is launched exclusively with W.H Smith to provide us with good reads for the summer holidays.  It is set in the 1920’s, an era when prohibition was in force in America, the First World War had finished and great discoveries were being made in science.

The book starts with the bombing of Wall Street on September 16th, 1920, an event that actually happened but was never solved. Witnesses to the blast are Stratham Younger, a war veteran, James Littlemore of the NYPD and Collette Rousseau, a protege of Marie Curie who are meeting for lunch. They help out following the explosion but Collette is kidnapped which begins a series of adventures involving corruption in banking, the use of radium in industry with psychoanalysis and mysterious red headed women thrown into the mixture.

There is an interesting mix of fictional characters with the real life characters of Freud and Marie Curie.  The historical background has obviously been well researched and the information about the early use of x-rays in treating soldiers and how radium became generally used in industry before the dangers of radiation were known is interesting. You certainly get a feel for living in those times and as the story moves around Europe you get more of a feel of this.

This is an enjoyable book, with some fast paced action scenes keeping you on the edge of your seat wanting to know what happens.  There a lots of twists and turns, some of which you see coming and some of which are a complete surprise.  The characters are believable and you find yourself getting involved in their story. Definitely a book for a summer holiday read if you enjoy thrillers.

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One response to “The Death Instinct by Jed Rubenfeld”

  1. Mrs. C says:

    Sounds like a really good book for my Turkey holiday in 10 days time. Mr. C can read it after me too so even better. Just read Nine Lives by Dan Fox and loved it.
    Love your blog by the way.

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