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Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Death Instinct by Jed Rubenfeld


In the spirit of Erik Larson, Jed Rubenfeld has woven a fictional story of intrigue and suspense around an horrifying actual event, the 1920 bombing of Wall Street by unknown terrorists. The novel revolves around three main characters, WWI veteran Dr. Stratham Younger, NY Detective James Littlemore, and Colette Rousseau, a French radiochemist. While strolling down Wall Street, their world explodes when terrorists use a horse and buggy loaded with explosives and shrapnel to attack America’s financial heart. What follows is a gripping tale of political suspense, international intrigue and the discovery of mankind’s darkest secret, the unstoppable instinct to wage war and face death.

There are multiple story lines running throughout the novel at the same time. Littlemore’s pursuit of the terrorists from New York to DC, only to discover that the FBI has already decided with little evidence that Italian anarchist were to blame. A US senator, in a storyline which disturbingly mirrors our government’s response to the 9/11 attacks, distorting the evidence to point to Mexico in order to save US oil interests in that country. Younger and Colette’s travels to Austria in pursuit of Colette’s missing fiancĂ©e. A US business man does whatever it takes to keep control of the world radium market. Even Dr. Sigmund Freud and Madame Curie make appearances throughout the book. All these facets in the story can become tiring at times to the reader but the author does an excellent job of tying them all together in the end for a very compelling and satisfying read.



While writing this, I was listening to "You And I" from "Hear Me Now" by Secondhand Serenade

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