About the Author
Patricia Highsmith is the author of such classics as Strangers on a Train and The Talented Mr. Ripley. She died in 1995 in Locarno, Switzerland.
With the savage humor of Evelyn Waugh and the macabre sensibility of Edgar Allan Poe, Patricia Highsmith brought a distinct twentieth-century acuteness to her prolific body of fiction. In her more than twenty novels, psychopaths lie in wait amid the milieu of the mundane, in the neighbor clipping the hedges or the spouse asleep next to you at night.
Now, Norton continues the revival of this noir genius with another of her lost masterpieces: The Blunderer, first published in 1953 and hailed as her finest novel, about the rise and fall of a faithful suburban husband who plots his wife's demise in fantasies gruesome and eerily serene.
3 of 6 people found the following review helpful: The Blunderer, September 19, 2002 Reviewer: Seth Ball from Ontario, Canada It's so fascinating most of the way through, but the ending is a bit of a blunder. The book opens with murder; a woman is lured into the woods after dismounting from a bus that is making a brief stop on a long trip. The murderer would appear to be a husband, or lover, arguing with his intended victim right up til the last. Then, the story jumps to sometime later, when the murder depicted has become just an unsolved crime in the "Forgotten" bin. Enter Walter and his hectoring wife, Clara. Their tumultous relationship has reached what looks to be the final stages of bickering, accusing, and total disrespect. But Clara won't let Walter go. No easy divorce here, because when Walter tries to leave, Clara does a moany about-face and acts(?) suicidal to keep Walter from abandoning her. Walter, meanwhile, gets intrigued by Melchior Kimmel, husband of the murder victim at the beginning of the book. Kimmel walks free, but Walter's casual reading of the case convinces him that Melchior might have eliminated his wife and gotten away with it...and it seems that Walter thinks that Melchior just might be onto something. While his professional life is falling apart, and his friends are avoiding him because they can't abide Clara, Walter does a strange thing and manages to get his life entangled with Melchoir Kimmel, a possible wife-killer who is no longer expecting anyone to come snooping around. Things get weird when Clara has to take a bus-trip out of town, and Walter, after dropping her off at the station, makes an instant decision to follow the bus. Shortly thereafter, Clara has died out beyond some trees, where the bus stopped off. Walter's bickering with Clara is officially over, but he has linked himself to Melchior Kimmel in certain dangerous ways, and that's when an intrepid detective named Corby comes calling. On Walter. And Kimmel. This is great stuff, up until the slipshod final act, where Corby stops using his brain, and becomes this toughguy cop who's solution to all problems is to brutalize suspects. Plus, the final confrontations between Walter, Melchior Kimmel, and Corby, will not be satisfying to any reader who enjoyed the psychological mazeworks that form the bulk of the novel. I don't mind a violent ending, but there's not much else to it. The book loses all its sophistication in its brawny resolution. I recommend this book to anyone who doesn't mind a terrific story that ends with formerly interesting characters settling up their complicated difficulties with the literary equivalent of a tagteam wrestling match.