Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Review: The Death Instinct (Jed Rubenfeld)

Title: The Death Instinct
Author: Jed Rubenfeld
Genre: Adult mystery
Pages: 457
Rating: 2.5 out of 5 (sort of a DNF)
Challenges: Suspense/Mystery, TLC Blog Tour, What's in a Name (life stage)
FTC Disclosure: I received this book free from the publisher for review
Summary (from the back of the book): Under a clear blue September sky, America's financial center in lower Manhattan became the site of the largest, deadliest terrorist attack in the nation's history. It was September 16, 1920. Four hundred people were killed or injured. The country was appalled by the magnitude and savagery of hte incomprehensible attack, which remains unsolved to this day.

War veteran Dr. Stratham Younger and his friend Captain James Littlemore of the New York Police Department are caught on Wall STreet on the fateful day of the blast. With them is the beautiful Colette Rousseau, a French radiochemist Younger met while fighting in the world war. A series of inexplicable attacks on her, a secret buried in her past, and a mysterious trail of evidence lead Young, Littlemore, and Rousseau on a thrilling international and psychological journey--from Paris to Prague, from the Vienna home of Dr. Sigmund Fred to the corridors of power in Washington, DC and ultimately to the hidden depths of our most savage instincts. As the seemingly disjointed piecesof what Younger and LIttlemore learn come together, the two uncover the shocking truth behind the bombing.

Review: I was so looking forward to reading this book. World War I and post-war are a couple of my favorite times in history and I do love a good mystery. However, this one just didn't do it for me. I have guilt about not finishing any book, but especially one that I've taken on as part of a book tour or as a request from an author or publisher. Ugh. I was having trouble reading The Death Instinct so I took a break for a week or hoping that I would pick it up again renewed, but that was not to be. I ended up super-skimming the last half of the book so that this wouldn't be an official DNF

What I didn't like: I think the author was trying to do too much. There are many stories going at once in addition to flashbacks to the war. It got confusing and overwhelming to keep it all straight and, more important for me, to really care about the characters and what happened to them.

What I did like: The potential is there for this novel. I like the setting, the event that sparks it all and I especially like that Rubenfeld obviously did his research. Including Madame Curie and radiation was interesting as well as the historical stuff about the bombing itself.

Geography Connection:


New York City. Wall Street. What iconic locations! Actually, this book does quite a bit of traveling, going to Prague, Paris, Vienna, and World War I locations. The photograph on the right is an actual photograph from the 1920 bombing of Wall Street. Click to see my updated Google Map.

5 comments:

Kathy said...

Bummer! I was looking forward to reading this. I probably still will but will take into consideration your thoughts. I do appreciate your honest review.

Heather J. @ TLC Book Tours said...

I'm sorry this one didn't work for you. Thanks for at least making it all the way through for the tour!

Helen's Book Blog said...

Kathy--I know that others have liked it better than me so definitely read it

Heather--No problem, I can always take something away from every book I read :-)

Katy F. said...

I can definitely see why you would feel that way about the book. It did jump around a lot--some of the threads of the story seemed totally unrelated and it can be hard to follow along when it does that. :)

Helen's Book Blog said...

Katy--I think that the jumping around was frustrating, but made more confusing by the large number of plots going on at the same time