April 7th, 2008


The Interpretation of Murder

Snow is lying on the ground this morning. I hope it goes away again but meanwhile let's cut to today's book.

In The Seven-Per-Cent Solution, Nicholas Meyer fictionalized Sigmund Freud in order to have him treat Sherlock Holmes for cocaine addiction. Now (2006, actually), Jed Rubenfeld also makes Freud a character in his mystery thriller The Interpretation of Murder. The novel is set in New York in 1909, the year Freud did visit the US. A society beauty is found dead, another brutally attacked. Freud helps an American disciple, Stratham Younger, to analyse the second victim in an attempt to find out the truth. This book has so many layers. There’s the basic mystery story, which includes a very likeable detective on the case. Then there’s the strange relationship between Freud and Jung, based, according to the author, on their letters and diaries. The background is hustling, bustling, corrupt, turn-of–the-century Manhattan, thrusting up into the skies with its new skyscrapers and down below the river to build the Manhattan bridge. There’s high society as depicted by Henry James and Edith Wharton (both authors get a mention). As if this were not enough, a Hamlet motif runs through the book; partly, I’m sure, the author enjoying himself, but also influencing the plot. I couldn’t go to bed last night until I’d finished it: brilliant.