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Publisher's Summary

The Interpretation of Murder opens on a hot summer night in 1909 as Sigmund Freud arrives in New York. Among those waiting to greet him is Dr. Stratham Younger, a gifted physician who is one of Freud's most ardent American supporters. And so begins the visit that will be the great genius' first and only journey to America.

The morning after Freud's arrival, in an opulent penthouse across the city, a woman is discovered murdered: whipped, mutilated, and strangled with a white silk tie. The next day, a rebellious heiress named Nora Acton barely escapes becoming the killer's second victim. Yet, suffering from hysteria, Miss Acton cannot remember the terrifying incident or her attacker. Asked to consult on the case, Dr. Younger calls on the visiting Freud to guide him through the girl's analysis.

The Interpretation of Murder is an intricately plotted, elegantly wrought entertainment filled with delicious surprises, subtle slights of hand, and fascinating ideas. Drawing on Freud's case histories, Shakespeare's Hamlet, and the rich history of New York, this remarkable novel marks the debut of a brilliantly engaging new storyteller.

©2006 Jed Rubenfeld; (P)2006 Random House, Inc. Random House Audio, a division of Random House, Inc.

Critic Reviews

"This well-researched and thought-provoking novel is sure to be a crowd pleaser." (Publishers Weekly)
"Rubenfeld renders rich, complex characters, vivid period detail, and prose riddled with heady references to Hamlet." (Booklist)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings


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  • Overall

Hated it

I rarely write a negative review but I truly hated this book. It's ugly in it's sadism and ugly in it's treatment of Jung, without any historical evidence. I actually listened to this all the way through because we were on a long trip with nothing else to listen to. But I wish I hadn't, pop music would have been better. It's not even a good mystery. You could figure out who the criminal is in about 100 pages and the rest is just an unpleasant story told poorly.

12 of 12 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Voyerurism in the guise of history

I did not like this book after listening for 30 minutes because I thought it was poorly written and banal. I found the reader's overly dramatic reading and silly accents irritating. The review I wrote at that time was returned unpublished because the Audible editor thought (fair enough) that I had not listened to enough of the book. I wish I had stopped there. The author's evident relish in the prurient details of childhood sexual abuse leaves me sickened.

15 of 16 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Kim
  • Roanoke, VA, USA
  • 12-18-07

Left Wanting

I was engrossed in the book until the last quarter of it when the author seemed to run out of steam. The ending left me unsatisfied...the story did not maintain its initial momentum.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Sara
  • Ridgewood, NJ, USA
  • 06-22-07

Narration makes all the difference

I wonder if I had read this book instead of listening to it if I would enjoyed it more. While I did find the subject matter interesting, the narration was disappointing to the point of being distracting. I found myself focusing more on the strange inflections used rather that what was being said.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Lee
  • Kingsburg,, CA, United States
  • 03-17-07


The story is packed from beginning to end with tidbits for chuckles and comtemplation. The mystery is great. The personalities are deeply developed. The narrator is turns in one of the best ever. His sly delivery can have one laughing out loud as the plot is zooming along. Great book, Great performance.

5 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

The Interpretation of Murder

This book was packed with all the things I love about historical fiction! I was delighted by this choice. I was reluctant to buy this book because this is a first novel and there were no reader reviews available. I am so glad I downloaded this one. It kept me thoroughly interested from the first page to the last.

6 of 9 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Ann
  • New York, NY, United States
  • 02-09-11

One of my favorite audio books

I was motivated to write about this book when I read the reviews of Rubenfeld's new book. Don't miss "Interpretation of Murder." The various plot lines are wonderful -- really, building the tunnel under the Hudson? psychosexual murder? Freud's first visit to the United States in a murder mystery? It doesn't get better than a great narrator, and some splendid characters to love and to hate.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

The Interpretation of Murder

I didn't get very far with this book. The author seemed to me to be taking too much pleasure in writing about the murder of the girl. Such things do happen in the world, but to be invited to "watch" as a form of entertainment seems twisted to me.

8 of 14 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

light-fingered prof needs fact-checker

Is there anything you would change about this book?

factual errors about NYC geography.

How could the performance have been better?

pronunciation of "affect" by psychologists is wrong along with other slips. German vowels awful.

Do you think The Interpretation of Murder needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?

It has one, which is better

Any additional comments?

1) The inner narrative is stolen from Freud's famous "Dora" case, only here she is called Nora. Rather unsubtle. 2)Writer is aware of Jung's adultery, but not Freud's with his own sister-in-law. Yale prof making klutzy protagonist a Harvard man is a bit gratuitous.