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The Horizontal Man

3.45  ·  Rating Details ·  110 Ratings  ·  23 Reviews
The young student, Molly Morrison, confesses to the murder of an English professor at Hollymount College, but Kate Innes doubts her guilt and decides to investigate.
Paperback, 255 pages
Published April 29th 1982 by Penguin Books (first published 1945)
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Sep 13, 2015 Tony rated it really liked it
THE HORIZONTAL MAN. (1946). Helen Eustis. ***1/2.
A murder takes place in a young teacher’s room, and we are immediately faced with the killer; or are we? This was the first of innumerable red herrings that were sprinkled throughout this novel. I’m not giving anything away, we are soon aware of the misdirection by page three. The author cleverly leads us on a merry chase through a large number of potential killers, set in a girls’ school in New England. The point of difference in this novel (Edga
Jun 22, 2016 William rated it it was ok
This book won an Edgar for best first novel in 1946. It's interesting for readers interested in the mystery genre to look back in time and see what was respected in the past. Unfortunately, I found this both dated and uninspired.

Eustis attended Smith College, on which this book is loosely based. I did find it interesting to have a glimpse of life at a women's college in this decade, though it is a very superficial one. But aside from that, "Horizontal Man" had little to recommend itself, and was
Mar 02, 2016 Karen rated it liked it
Reading this in a collection of 40's crime novels. This one was fun--some good dialogue and a true whodunit--but a bit dated, doesn't hold up as well as "Laura" did, in my opinion. This doesn't always bother me, but here the attitudes towards women (which I'm sure are true to the period) are at times a bit hard to take and just as obnoxious as they'd be if a man had written this book. Spoiler Alert: Couldn't help thinking of "Psycho" and wondering if Robert Bloch was influenced by "The Horizonta ...more
May 18, 2016 Bibliophile rated it really liked it
Murder, madness and psychosexual drama at a women's college in the forties - if that's not the perfect rainy day read, I don't know what is.

This was apparently the author's debut novel, and she goes all in. There's the plucky college student who goes sleuthing, the cocky reporter who falls for her (and she for him, despite his constant "fatty" and "chubby" remarks), eccentric professors, a hysterical librarian, a majestic divorcee with a healthy sex drive, lovelorn girls with mental problems an
Robert Stewart
May 31, 2016 Robert Stewart rated it really liked it
This was an interesting read, and the author used some unusual devices, like stream of consciousness points of view mixed with more limited third-person narration.

At about a quarter of the way into the book, I was thoroughly impressed. There was a lot subtle humor deftly done, like the college president's secretary sparing no opportunity to bolster his fragile ego. And one of the stream of consciousness chapters has a passage where the character in question imagines himself stalked by Death, onl
Robin Friedman
Sep 21, 2015 Robin Friedman rated it really liked it
The Library of America has released a two-volume set "Women Crime Writers" (2015) consisting of eight crime novels written by women in the 1940s and 1950s. It is absorbing to work through this collection which is edited by Sarah Weinman, a scholar of women's crime fiction. Helen Eustis' novel, "The Horizontal Man" (1946) is the second book in the collection and the LOA has released it separately as an e-book. Eustis' novel won the Edgar Award for the best first crime novel but has received littl ...more
James Lee
Apr 17, 2015 James Lee rated it really liked it
The Horizontal Man by Helen Eustis is a murder mystery tautly written in an older, literate style more typical of fiction from the 1940s and 1950s. This book won an Edgar Award for Best First Novel in 1947. Eustis, by the way, passed away in January, 2015 at the age of 98.

The scene is set early. Kevin Boyle, a young English professor, is murdered on the second page of the novel by a poker-wielding assailant. Plenty of suspects abound within the claustrophobic confines of all-girls Hollymount Co
Ben Loory
Apr 24, 2016 Ben Loory rated it it was ok
only interesting insofar as it made me think about Psycho.
Feb 09, 2016 Bill rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery
Interesting take on murder and psychology on a college campus in the 1940s. Dealing with the murder of a professor at an all girls’ school, The Horizontal Man creates a rich stew of characters, and bounces pov between them all, creating pyschological portraits of numerous acacdemic types. The mystery is compelling and there are clues and red herrings galore, but the final revelation is not unexpected, having been hidden in plain sight. Few writers could get away with this solution today, but the ...more
Terri Rowe
Jan 18, 2016 Terri Rowe rated it it was amazing
The Horizontal Man by Helen Eustis-was first published in 1946, the year my mother was born. I enjoyed reading this novel for the glimpse it gave me into what a small college town might have been like at that time.
A young college professor, Kevin Boyle, is murdered in his rented rooms, an introverted student, Molly Morrison, that has a huge crush on him confesses to the crime. But there may be another reason why she admits to being responsible. Can Dr. Forstmann gain her trust and coax the stor
Jun 22, 2016 E.G. rated it really liked it
This was an interesting if uneven read, for reasons that many have already stated here. For me, the middle of the book -- when the business of moving forward the plot takes over -- is its real weak point. It's a story that moves at its own pace, sometimes slowly but not slowly enough to make me skip through paragraphs. She did manage to keep me guessing until she gave it away, which is a plus for me.

The material is dated and the plot creaks a bit here and there, but her use of descriptive langua
Jennifer Kepesh
Dec 06, 2015 Jennifer Kepesh rated it liked it
This is a decent noir story, and of course it's very dated; that's some of the interest in reading it. Male/female stereotypes abound, as do now-laughable sorta-Freudian-indebted plot twists. It's interesting to read a book by a woman that is so misogynic in its depiction of female characters--though the men are also pretty one-dimensional.
Nov 15, 2015 Steve rated it really liked it
I've never read any other mysteries written during this time period (1945), but I have seen lots of movies made in the late 30's and early 40's. She seems to borrow several tropes, (such as the plucky newspaper reporter/detective) and a lot of popular Freudian psychology. I suspect it won an Edgar Award because it shows the inner workings of several characters who are very flawed (and thus, murderer suspects).
Nov 29, 2015 Susan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
All the details from napkin cubbies and other forms of meanness bring back altogether too much weird claustrophobia of Smith College before it became a haven for sexual weirdness. But this is not a noir!
Dec 31, 2014 Stacy rated it really liked it
Interesting psychological mystery that unravels a bit too early for the modern reader, but must have been surprising for its original audience. Insightful for the modern reader as to its time and setting. A well-written tale.
Aug 17, 2014 Selena rated it really liked it
I was surprised by this book given the time period in which it was written. Sometimes it got a bit choppy, but I liked it overall. Smithie's write some crazy books.
Sue Davis
Very 1940s, Freudian, similar in fact to Psycho.
Catherine  Mustread
Oct 03, 2009 Catherine Mustread rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: vintage/classic mystery fans
Shelves: mystery, award, classics
Dated and full of sterotypical characters this Edgar winning mystery (1947) is still a compelling psychological murder mystery. From The Burburyist Blog: "Although its once ground-breaking twist ending may not surprise modern readers, this roman à clef about Smith College by a friend of Carson McCullers is still a terrific read."
Mar 15, 2015 Caryn added it
Loved this book. Its out of print and unfortunately very hard to find. i was able to have a friend check it out of U of Penn library. the author recently passed away. Very well written, great vocabulary. A fun whodunit!
Winner of the Edgar for best first in 1947. At a small women’s college in Connecticut a young professor of English that most of the girls had a crush on is murdered and a young freshman goes completely to pieces. Dated, but in a good way, as it was a look at college life that was completely different than my experience.
Dec 07, 2015 Cortney rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2015
More than a mystery or a noir novel, this is a commentary on the anxieties of academics, always present even after a murder.
Dec 01, 2013 Jeremy rated it it was ok
Eustis' novels suffers from moments of brilliance shattered by dated stereotypes, which in 2013 are difficult to stomach. No doubt shocking to readers in the 1940s it is full of sensational thrills...but at a price to the modern reader.
Jan 06, 2011 Amy rated it it was ok
Shelves: mysteries, reviewed
Good, but I predicted the ending about halfway through the book. So it was a little transparent.
Noah marked it as to-read
Sep 27, 2016
Deborah marked it as to-read
Sep 25, 2016
J rated it liked it
Sep 23, 2016
Claire Blythe
Claire Blythe rated it liked it
Sep 17, 2016
Chris marked it as to-read
Sep 15, 2016
Shrie Spangler
Shrie Spangler marked it as to-read
Sep 15, 2016
Linda marked it as to-read
Sep 15, 2016
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Helen Eustis (1916-) is an American translator (from French) whose reputation rests on two novels: The Horizontal Man (1946), which received an Edgar, and The Fool Killer (1954). Eustis was born in Cincinnati Ohio and educated at Columbia University New York. She was married to Alfred Young Fisher and later Martin Harris, and worked briefly as a copywriter. She has also written a children's story, ...more
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