Jed Rubenfeld, a Yale law professor, wrote his undergraduate thesis on Sigmund Freud, a major character in Rubenfeld's first novel, The Interpretation of Murder.

Is there a parallel between the way you've constructed your novel and the way you'd construct a legal brief?

No, but that's an interesting question. In legal writing, you never want to conceal anything; you learn early on to say exactly what you're going to say. Legal arguments are very complicated, and you don't want to leave any mysteries or surprises at the end.

What inspired you to write a thriller about Freud in America?

Freud's only trip to America was in 1909. He gives a series of lectures at Clark University attended by the most famous psychologists of the day. Psychoanalysis takes off in the United States. The newspapers write about him in glowing terms. And yet later in life, Freud speaks of his trip with a kind of horror. He even blames the trip for a variety of physical ailments that he'd begun to suffer well before 1909. And there's been a lot of speculation as to what could possibly be the cause of this reaction, even speculation about some unknown event that might have caused it.

Do you think that readers who are only casually aware of Freud and Jung through the popular understanding of their concepts might be surprised by Jung's appearance as a neurotic mess?

Oh, yes. I think they'll be surprised. For example, in my book Jung writes a letter to the mother of one of his patients, a young girl, suggesting that she pay him in exchange for his not having sex with her daughter. That letter is a public document.

Freud appears as a messianic figure who almost seems to expect martyrdom.

I think that you would find that borne out by the record.

In an author's note, you state that Freud and Jung's views as expressed in the book in almost every case can be found in their writings. Much of their dialogue sounds almost as if it could be actual quotes.

If you and I went through their correspondence and looked at Freud and Jung's dialogue, about four out of five cases would be actual quotes.

If your book is as successful as your publisher seems to think it will be, are you prepared to become the next John Grisham or Scott Turow?

You're so far ahead of me, I haven't even thought about that. I'm just enjoying the ride.