A Suspension of Mercy by Patricia Highsmith
A major new reissue of the work of a classic noir novelist. With the acclaim for The Talented Mr. Ripley, more film projects in production, and two biographies forthcoming, expatriate legend Patricia Highsmith would be shocked to see that she has finally arrived in her homeland. Throughout her career, Highsmith brought a keen literary eye and a genius for plumbing the psychopathic mind to more than thirty works of fiction, unparalleled in their placid deviousness and sardonic humor. With deadpan accuracy, she delighted in creating true sociopaths in the guise of the everyday man or woman. Now, one of her finest works is again in print: A Suspension of Mercy, a masterpiece of noir fantasy. With this novel, Highsmith revels in eliciting the unsettling psychological forces that lurk beneath the surface of everyday contemporary life.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
Ruth Rendell-like, February 15, 2002
from Reston, Va. United States
Someone once said that Patricia Highsmith's novels are like bad dreams that keep us thrashing during the night. This one is no exception. I can't really call it a mystery becuase there really is no "who done it" - at least who done it in the terms that we would normally associate it. Rather, Ms. Highsmith comes across like Ruth Rendell or maybe Elmore Leonard. Not so much of a mystery as a crime novel where the plot really isn't the driving force, it's the characters. She, like Rendell and Leonard, has created a few characters who bounce off of one another like billiard balls and move the story along. Sydney Bartleby, an aspiring author-to-be, imagines a plot to kill off his wife Alicia, a painter. Oh, he hasn't done it, mind you, but he has thought about it enough. So, when Alicia takes some time off away from ol' Syd because their marriage is reaching the straining point, Sydney begins a descent into the netherworld of his own imagination. Did he kill her and bury her in a carpet in the middle of the woods? The only person in the book who might even begin to resemble a "good guy", widowed Mrs. Lilybanks, their neighbor, isn't so sure. Sydney leads the police on in their investigation and when it appears that his own fictions will rock and destroy his own life - and he keeps going on - you just want to shake him. I found this to be just a little unbelieveable. The last couple of chapters will either surprise you or leave you asking, "Is that all there is?" Ms. Highsmith hasn't been that well publicized in the U.S. until one of her earlier novels, "The Talented Mr. Ripley", was made into a movie. Still, like here classic debut novel, "Strangers on a Train", this one shows us what forces might be perculating just below the skin of everyday life. Elmore and Ruth would be proud.