The Death Instinct

ISBN 13: 9780755382163

The Death Instinct

 
9780755382163: The Death Instinct

Ten years on from THE INTERPRETATION OF MURDER, Stratham Younger and James Littlemore embark on a thrilling new adventure in the aftermath of a terrorist attack in New York; it is a story that will lead Stratham to the heart of war-ravaged Europe, where he will once again encounter Sigmund Freud. 12.01pm, September 16, 1920. A quarter ton of explosives is detonated on New York's Wall Street, the deadliest attack in the United States' 150 year history. Stratham Younger, recently returned from the battlefields of Europe, witnesses the explosion alongside Captain James Littlemore of the NYPD and Veronique Bourg, a brilliant and beautiful young disciple of Marie Curie. Littlemore's investigation will lead him into conflict with the FBI, and to the centre of a dangerous web of corruption that links Wall Street and Washington. Meanwhile Stratham and Veronique embark on a perilous journey that will take them to Vienna, where Freud will shed light on his theory of the human desire for destruction, even self-destruction, which he terms 'the death instinct'.

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About the Author:

Currently the Robert R. Slaughter Professor of Law at Yale University, Jed Rubenfeld has been described as 'one of the most elegant legal writers of his generation'. He lives in New Haven, Connecticut, with his wife and two daughters.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

On a clear September day in lower Manhattan, the financial center of the United States became the site of the most massive terrorist attack that had ever occurred on American soil. It was 1920. Despite the then largest criminal investigation in United States history, the identity of the perpetrators remains a mystery.

PART I
ONE

Death is only the beginning; afterward comes the hard part.

There are three ways to live with the knowledge of death—to keep its terror at bay. The first is suppression: forget it's coming; act as if it isn't. That's what most of us do most of the time. The second is the opposite: memento mori. Remember death. Keep it constantly in mind, for surely life can have no greater savor than when a man believes today is his last. The third is acceptance. A man who accepts death—really accepts it—fears nothing and hence achieves a transcendent equanimity in the face of all loss. All three of these strategies have something in common. They're lies. Terror, at least, would be honest.

But there is another way, a fourth way. This is the inadmissible option, the path no man can speak of, not even to himself, not even in the quiet of his own inward conversation. This way requires no forgetting, no lying, no groveling at the altar of the inevitable. All it takes is instinct.


At the stroke of noon on September 16, 1920, the bells of Trinity Church began to boom, and as if motivated by a single spring, doors flew open up and down Wall Street, releasing clerks and message boys, secretaries and stenographers, for their precious hour of lunch. They poured into the streets, streaming around cars, lining up at favorite vendors, filling in an instant the busy intersection of Wall, Nassau, and Broad, an intersection known in the financial world as the Corner—just that, the Corner. There stood the United States Treasury, with its Greek temple facade, guarded by a regal bronze George Washington. There stood the white-columned New York Stock Exchange. There, J. P. Morgan's domed fortress of a bank.

In front of that bank, an old bay mare pawed at the cobblestones, hitched to an overloaded, burlap-covered cart—pilotless and blocking traffic. Horns sounded angrily behind it. A stout cab driver exited his vehicle, arms upraised in righteous appeal. Attempting to berate the cartman, who wasn't there, the taxi driver was surprised by an odd, muffled noise coming from inside the wagon. He put his ear to the burlap and heard an unmistakable sound: ticking.

The church bells struck twelve. With the final, sonorous note still echoing, a curious taxi driver drew back one corner of moth-eaten burlap and saw what lay beneath. At that moment, among the jostling thousands, four people knew that death was pregnant in Wall Street: the cab driver; a redheaded woman close by him; the missing pilot of the horse-drawn wagon; and Stratham Younger, who, one hundred fifty feet away, pulled to their knees a police detective and a French girl.

The taxi driver whispered, "Lord have mercy."

Wall Street exploded.


Two women, once upon a time the best of friends, meeting again after years apart, will cry out in disbelief, embrace, protest, and immediately take up the missing pieces of their lives, painting them in for one another with all the tint and vividness they can. Two men, under the same conditions, have nothing to say at all.

At eleven that morning, one hour before the explosion, Younger and Jimmy Littlemore shook hands in Madison Square, two miles north of Wall Street. The day was unseasonably fine, the sky a crystal blue. Younger took out a cigarette.

"Been a while, Doc," said Littlemore.

Younger struck, lit, nodded.

Both men were in their thirties, but of different physical types. Littlemore, a detective with the New York Police Department, was the kind of man who mixed easily into his surroundings. His height was average, his weight average, the color of his hair average; even his features were average, a composite of American openness and good health. Younger, by contrast, was arresting. He was tall; he moved well; his skin was a little weathered; he had the kind of imperfections in a handsome face that women like. In short, the doctor's appearance was more demanding than the detective's, but less amiable.

"How's the job?" asked Younger.

"Job's good," said Littlemore, a toothpick wagging between his lips.

"Family?"

"Family's good."

Another difference between them was visible as well. Younger had fought in the war; Littlemore had not. Younger, walking away from his medical practice in Boston and his scientific research at Harvard, had enlisted immediately after war was declared in 1917. Littlemore would have too—if he hadn't had a wife and so many children to provide for.

"That's good," said Younger.

"So are you going to tell me," asked Littlemore, "or do I have to pry it out of you with a crowbar?"

Younger smoked. "Crowbar."

"You call me after all this time, tell me you got something to tell me, and now you're not going to tell me?"

"This is where they had the big victory parade, isn't it?" asked Younger, looking around at Madison Square Park, with its greenery, monuments, and ornamental fountain. "What happened to the arch?"

"Tore it down."

"Why were men so willing to die?"

"Who was?" asked Littlemore.

"It doesn't make sense. From an evolutionary point of view." Younger looked back at Littlemore. "I'm not the one who needs to talk to you. It's Colette."

"The girl you brought back from France?" said Littlemore.

"She should be here any minute. If she's not lost."

"What's she look like?"

Younger thought about it: "Pretty." A moment later, he added, "Here she is."

A double-decker bus had pulled up nearby on Fifth Avenue. Littlemore turned to look; the toothpick nearly fell out of his mouth. A girl in a slim trench coat was coming down the outdoor spiral staircase. The two men met her as she stepped off.

Colette Rousseau kissed Younger once on either cheek and extended a slender arm to Littlemore. She had green eyes, graceful movements, and long dark hair.

"Glad to meet you, Miss," said the detective, recovering gamely.

She eyed him. "So you're Jimmy," she replied, taking him in. "The best and bravest man Stratham has ever known."

Littlemore blinked. "He said that?"

"I also told her your jokes aren't funny," added Younger.

Colette turned to Younger: "You should have come to the radium clinic. They've cured a sarcoma. And a rhinoscleroma. How can a little hospital in America have two whole grams of radium when there isn't one in all of France?"

"I didn't know rhinos had an aroma," said Littlemore.

"Shall we go to lunch?" asked Younger.


Where Colette alighted from the bus, a monumental triple arch had only a few months earlier spanned the entirety of Fifth Avenue. In March of 1919, vast throngs cheered as homecoming soldiers paraded beneath the triumphal Roman arch, erected to celebrate the nation's victory in the Great War. Ribbons swirled, balloons flew, cannons saluted, and—because Prohibition had not yet arrived—corks popped.

But the soldiers who received this hero's welcome woke the next morning to discover a city with no jobs for them. Wartime boom had succumbed to postwar collapse. The churning factories boarded up their windows. Stores closed. Buying and selling ground to a halt. Families were put out on the streets with nowhere to go.

The Victory Arch was supposed to have been solid marble. Such extravagance having become unaffordable, it had been built of wood and plaster instead. When the weather came, the paint peeled, and the arch began to crumble. It was demolished before winter was out—about the same time the country went dry.

The colossal, dazzlingly white and vanished arch lent a tremor of ghostliness to Madison Square. Colette felt it. She even turned to see if someone might be watching her. But she turned the wrong way. She didn't look across Fifth Avenue, where, beyond the speeding cars and rattling omnibuses, a pair of eyes was in fact fixed upon her.

These belonged to a female figure, solitary, still, her cheeks gaunt and pallid, so skeletal in stature that, to judge by appearance, she couldn't have threatened a child. A kerchief hid most of her dry red hair, and a worn-out dress from the previous century hung to her ankles. It was impossible to tell her age: she might have been an innocent fourteen or a bony fifty-five. There was, however, a peculiarity about her eyes. The irises, of the palest blue, were flecked with brownish-yellow impurities like corpses floating in a tranquil sea.

Among the vehicles blocking this woman's way across Fifth Avenue was an approaching delivery truck, drawn by a horse. She cast her composed gaze on it. The trotting animal saw her out of the corner of an eye. It balked and reared. The truck driver shouted; vehicles swerved, tires screeched. There were no collisions, but a clear path opened up through the traffic. She crossed Fifth Avenue unmolested.


Littlemore led them to a street cart next to the subway steps, proposing that they have "dogs" for lunch, which required the men to explain to an appalled French girl the ingredients of that recent culinary sensation, the hot dog. "You'll like it, Miss, I promise," said Littlemore.

"I will?" she replied dubiously.

Reaching the near side of Fifth Avenue, the kerchiefed woman pla...

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Book Description Headline Publishing Group, United Kingdom, 2010. CD-Audio. Book Condition: New. Unabridged edition. Language: English . Brand New. A spellbinding literary thriller about terror, war, greed, and the darkest secrets of the human soul, by the author of the million-copy bestseller, The Interpretation of Murder.September 16, 1920. Under a clear blue September sky, a quarter ton of explosives is detonated in a deadly attack on Wall Street. Fear comes to the streets of New York.Witnessing the blast are war veteran Stratham Younger, his friend James Littlemore of the New York Police Department, and beautiful French radiochemist Colette Rousseau. A series of inexplicable attacks on Colette, a secret buried in her past, and a mysterious trail of evidence lead Younger, Littlemore, and Rousseau on a thrilling international and psychological journey - from Paris to Prague, from the Vienna home of Dr Sigmund Freud to the corridors of power in Washington, DC, and ultimately to the hidden depths of our most savage instincts. As the seemingly disjointed pieces of Younger and Littlemore s investigations come together, the two uncover the shocking truth about the bombing - a truth that threatens to shake their world to its foundations. Bookseller Inventory # AA69780755382163

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