The Interpretation of Murder by Jed Rubenfeld
Published by Headline Review
This fascinating story, which begins in New York in 1909, tells of the one and only visit of Sigmund Freud to the United States, and the problems he encounters during his time there. He arrives with two of his disciples, Carl Jung and Sandor Ferenczi, and is immediately embroiled in controversies surrounding his treatment and methods. A murder occurs, then an attack with similar characteristics happens on the following day, and Freud is asked to quiz the victim in an attempt to identify the attacker, but he passes the case to an American colleague.
As the story unfolds, with many twists and turns, the protagonists are led a merry dance by the mastermind behind the crimes, and the reader will be kept in the dark until the very last page.
Freud and Jung encounter great resistance to their ideas regarding psychoanalysis of patients and they are looked on with scepticism by the police and the medical profession. A sub plot sees Carl Jung trying to establish his particular brand of analysis, seeking to further his own career and move out of the shadow of his mentor, Freud. This causes tension between the two men, and misunderstandings arise between Freud and his American sponsors who have brought him to the country to publicize his theories through public appearances and speeches.
Stratham Young, a physician and follower of Freud, is part of the welcoming committee, and becomes caught up in the criminal investigation, and becomes infatuated with one of the victims, thereby clouding his professional judgement.
The character of Charles Hugel, the New York coroner, gives us an insight into the early days of forensic science and the difficulties of implementing this new branch of police detection.
Apart from the constant ruminations by Stratham Young regarding Hamlet and the Oedipus complex, this is a very well written and informative book, and I recommend it highly.