Image of The Death Instinct


Image of The Death Instinct

There are many elements that work in The Death Instinct, not the least of which is Rubenfeld’s impressive grasp of historical detail and accuracy. The buddy-cop-like relationship between the male leads is well developed and charming; the romantic relationship is much less so, and all the detours and tangential plotlines prompted by the romance drag down what is otherwise a fairly riveting mystery, which is based on an actual event. The parallels one could draw between the 1920 Wall Street bombing and the terrorist attack on 9/11/2001 are clear enough, however, without the unfortunately unsubtle reminders, which pile up so that they become painful by the novel’s end.

A bomb explodes on Wall Street on September 20, 1920, while Captain James Littlemore of the New York Police Department and WWI veteran Dr. Stratham Younger are nearby, sightseeing with Younger’s female companion, Colette Rousseau. While Littlemore dives into the investigation, Younger and Rousseau travel to Europe, both to escape the shadowy characters tailing Rousseau and for her to come to terms with a traumatic incident from her past. (RIVERHEAD, Jan., 480 pp., $26.95)
Reviewed by: 
Michelle Wiener