Excerpt: Jed Rubenfeld's "Death Instinct"


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 fi ne, 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 scientifi c 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

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