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A Suspension of Mercy

3.84  ·  Rating Details  ·  758 Ratings  ·  87 Reviews
Sydney Bartleby has killed his wife, Alicia—at least he has thought about it, compulsively, over and over again, plotting schemes, designing escapes, forging alibis. Of course he has; he's a mystery-script writer. But when Alicia takes a long, unannounced vacation, Sydney seizes the opportunity to perfect his artistic method.

With her characteristic precision and unrivaled
Paperback, 240 pages
Published August 17th 2001 by W. W. Norton & Company (first published January 1st 1965)
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(showing 1-30 of 1,331)
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Greg Z
Feb 09, 2016 Greg Z rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviewed
Does this sound familiar?
1) Wife goes missing.
2) Dysfunctional young married couple.
3) Husband suspected of her murder.
4) Wife has rich parents, husband might get a lot of money upon wife's death.
5) Husband has friend/confidante and both are in the same business.
6) There is a diary which may or may not have a true account of situation.
7) Friend/neighbor of wife suspicious of husband.
8) Media freak show.
9) Wife winds up living not too far away with another man.
10) Book a page-turner even though s
Maria João Fernandes
"Os artistas precisam de se isolar de vez em quando."

Muitas vezes damos por nós a imaginar situações, criar histórias e desejar viver nelas. A ficção é mais apelativa que a realidade, porque é mais moldável e só depende de nós. Mas e se deixássemos de distinguir os dois mundos e permitíssemos a ficção e a realidade sobreporem-se?

Como sempre, Patricia Highsmith apresenta-nos personagens distintas, com personalidades complicadas, onde os defeitos se evidenciam e tornam uma simples situação do quo
Sydney Bartleby is an American living in Suffolk with his English wife Alicia; she lives quite comfortably on her inheritance, while Syd is a struggling mystery writer, hacking away at his great mystery novel while failing to sell crime-show screenplays to television studios. Their marriage on the rocks, after one spat too many Alicia heads to London and leaves Syd alone for a few weeks—and both look forward to the quiet and solitude. Syd's writing picks up and he makes sales, but as the weeks p ...more
Cori Arnold
May 25, 2014 Cori Arnold rated it really liked it
Dear judge of my thriller novel who said, "No one even gets murdered!" Please read this novel, it'll shake your cozy knowledge of mystery right down to the core.

Seriously, the hook was great. The execution nearly flawless. This novel begs for a modern rendition.
Dec 15, 2015 Carolina rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015, 50libros
Este es uno de esos libros en los que no tengo idea de como calificar, por una parte el argumento es un chiste,apenas se sostiene y podría fácilmente ser resulto en 5 páginas si sus personajes no se rehusaran a usar sus neuronas,pero por otra parte todas las tonterías que leí no me hicieron odiar el libro o sus personajes,de hecho me reí la mayoría del tiempo porque todo era tan tonto que llegaba a ser gracioso.

Sidney es quizás el personaje con menos sentido común que he leido, pero era tan dive
Michael N
Jan 31, 2011 Michael N rated it it was amazing
I wasn't familiar with this specific novel when I purchased it, but I was so taken with other Highsmith novels that I had to give it a chance. Although it isn't as well-known as some of her more famous novels, it is an astonishing meditation on guilt, identity, and social class; a masterful dissection of the psychology of crime, written in Highsmith's favoured mystery/noir/meta-mystery format.

In summary, Sydney is a struggling crime novelist/tele-playwright living in seclusion with his artistic
Aug 27, 2009 tENTATIVELY, cONVENIENCE rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: any lover of mysteries &/or psychology
Shelves: mysteries, psychology
This is the 5th novel I've read by Highsmith. I usually think of her as the 4th of the 4 mystery/crime-fiction writers that I've read that i think are truly great. The hierarchy having been generally: Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler, James Ellroy, & Patricia Highsmith. Now, having read this, Highmsith's position in the hierarchy is less clearly in last place. This was amazing. All of the bks I've read by her so far have involved psychologically perceptive ensarings in subtly twisted minds ...more
Carla Remy
Apr 07, 2015 Carla Remy rated it it was amazing

This has all the typical Highsmith ingredients: guilt, not guilt, murder, not murder. But it's a novel explicitly about the (inner/outer) life of a writer. Intellectual and cool.
Happy that I still loved this, because it was my favorite Highsmith novel when I was, I think, 31. My other favorite of hers, This Sweet Sickness, I found overlong when I re read it (still good, but not great like I'd thought). This is why I think it's important to re read things. I try not to think in terms of opinions
Gavin Armour
Oct 02, 2015 Gavin Armour rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Der elfte Roman der großen Erzählerin Patricia Highsmith erschien 1965 und hieß im englischen Original A SUSPENSION OF MERCY, den Titel THE STORY TELLER, der auch diese Neuübersetzung von Matthias Jendis ziert, bekam er erst mit der späteren amerikanischen Ausgabe. Diese Informationen deshalb vorab, weil Ärger mit Verlegern, die Angst, daß das eigene Werk nicht akzeptiert wird und die Unterschiedlichkeit zwischen europäischen und amerikanischen Verlagen im Roman durchaus eine Rolle spielen. Dies ...more
Jun 13, 2015 Joanna rated it really liked it
Spoiler alert: The killer gets away with it!
Daniel Gamboa
Feb 07, 2015 Daniel Gamboa rated it liked it
"A Suspension of Mercy" is a good book, although:

1. Sidney's reasons for being fed up by Alicia are a bit rushed. I would've liked to see more interaction between them to be able to say it was a sick relationship.

2. "The Whip" is more of a cartoonish character whose "adventures" have nothing to do with the plot, so, to be honest, everytime I had to read about each "episode", I was annoyed.

3. Sidney's character isn't as well developed as other characters in other Highsmith's books. There are inte
Feb 21, 2013 Angela rated it it was amazing
Yes, I am giving this book five stars. It really was amazing in my opinion. The suspense is good throughout and kept me interested in the story all the way through. The story thoroughly engaged me with its presentation of what is seen on the surface and what is really going on underneath.

Sydney is placed under suspicion when his wife takes an extended vacation from him in which she contacts none of her friends or family. Sydney, a writer, amuses himself by imagining and acting as if he had kille
Bruce Beckham
Mar 14, 2016 Bruce Beckham rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This novel is about a slightly crazy author (yikes!) who harbours fantasies of murdering his wife and disposing of her body inside a rolled-up carpet. (The fantasies being for professional purposes only, or so we are led to understand.)

Halfway through the story the wife decides to abscond from public view.

The reader is then led a merry dance - largely through the unreliable thoughts of the protagonist - as both he and the police attempt to solve the mystery of her disappearance.

The author insist
Oct 04, 2015 Hans rated it really liked it
After reading 15 or 16 other books by Patricia Highsmith, I'm not surprised by the strong content and craft. The careers of the characters even provide Highsmith with a chance to make a few remarks about the kind of people who make up stories. The end of Alicia's story arc feels like it was a bit much (viewing this from 2015...about 50 years after the book was published), but I understand how that is key to the end of the book.

Again, Highsmith provides a chance to work on your vocabulary (as we
Oct 20, 2012 columbialion rated it really liked it
Ever since my recent discovery of Highsmith, I have been continually impressed with her writing style and excellent character development. "Suspension" is another example of Highsmith's ability to grab the reader by the scruff of the neck, and drag them through the twisted world of a criminal mind. Additionally, it appears that Highsmith always forces her readers to ask a common question; "Will the guilty character be caught and face justice, or slip away freely?" That ingredient in her stories ...more
Mandy Setterfield
Dec 19, 2014 Mandy Setterfield rated it it was amazing
Thoroughly enjoyable read. Left me feeling quite spooked. Full of unlikeable characters, but very very gripping. Loved the 60's setting - the pips at the end of phone calls, the Post Office open til 6pm for a late post, carbon copies of letters - really a by-gone age!

Apr 11, 2016 Theresa rated it liked it
Excellent writing, but I didn't really like it. It was hard to understand why the characters behaved the way they did.
Lou Robinson
Jul 31, 2015 Lou Robinson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Another great read from Highsmith, plenty of suspense. Reckon it would make an excellent film, and by the looks of it, that might happen later this year. Hoorah.
Michael Springer
Sep 14, 2014 Michael Springer rated it really liked it
I read this story from Patricia Highsmith at the recommendation of political pundit Bill Kristol of all people, and am glad I did. I love this quote from Newsday: "Patricia Highsmith is an exquisitely sardonic etcher of the casually treacherous personality"; anyone who savored the Ripley books knows what that means. This is a story of a struggling young writer who fantasizes about getting rid of his wife to the extent that neither he nor we are sure sometimes whether he actually killed her or no ...more
Feb 27, 2013 Jessica rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, noir, england
Highsmith is the master of subtle tension - everything ordinary always becomes infused with menace in her work, which is completely captivating. As is common in her books there's no one for the reader to love here, but that approach can and does work for her. In a way, I feel like authors like Gillian Flynn wouldn't be having the roaring success they are today without Highsmith blazing the trail.
Mar 05, 2013 aya rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Classic Highsmith--what is easily explained becomes suspicious through the strange stubbornness and idiosyncrasies of a personality. Traces of The Blunderer and The Glass Cell. A characteristically dark study of guilt, the perception of guilt, and society's perception of "humanity" and likeability.
Kathleen O'Donnell
Nov 22, 2014 Kathleen O'Donnell rated it really liked it
Before Gillian Flynn there was Patricia Highsmith. Before Gone Girl there was A Suspension of Mercy. A writer daydreams about murdering his wife. She knows he does and isn't thrilled. She leaves town to make everyone think she's dead and that her husband killed her. The longer she stays away the more committed to the ruse she is, even at her parents expense. Hubby is so enraptured with his wife murdering fantasy he starts to act it out, see what it's like. It's all fun and games till his neighbo ...more
Feb 03, 2013 Luci rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This short novel reminded me a lot of Gone Girl. Without giving anything away, the suspense is built better and the characters are more interesting. I liked this book more than anything else I have read by Highsmith and more than the aforementioned Gone Girl.
May 16, 2016 james rated it liked it
The most-frustrating Highsmith novel I've read so far.

Typically, when Highsmith lets us enter the mind of an unstable person who does rash, illogical things, she usually shows step-by-step how and why that person keeps inadvertently tying the noose around his own neck. Here, the protagonist -- and Alicia for that matter -- does so many bone-headed things, it's difficult to find it compelling. At almost any moment in this story, disaster could have been easily averted. I understand that Sydney i
Juan Araizaga
4 días y 232 páginas. Y sí. levantó al final pero no fue suficiente, las primeras 150 páginas son de lo más abuuuuridas que alguien pueda imaginar, creo que me quedé dormido más de una vez. La premisa es la siguiente: un matrimonio que vive en la pradera londinense decide tomarse un "break". Al marido no le interesa demasiado su ausencia y se pone a escribir, pero pronto la gente comienza a sospechar de algo más... aquí parte la historia.

Sí, el final es tremendamente bueno, pensé que sería difer
Apr 30, 2015 Nini rated it really liked it
I discovered Patricia Highsmith many years ago and since then have enjoyed several of her stories. She has the most amazing way of making the mundane seem both significant and sinister. Once again Ms Highsmith drives a plot filled with suspense coupled with perfectly charming activites such as afternoon picnics. I am a confirmed fan of this author and plan on enjoying many more of her books. As always the story is captivating with incredibly well written characters that soon find you submerged i ...more
Alice Brandli
Apr 21, 2015 Alice Brandli rated it liked it
Vintage gone girl.
I found the main characters a bit wooden, especially Alicia. It was enjoyable read and really picked up it's pace in the last 50 pages. It was a great intro to Patricia Highsmith and I will have to read - the talented Mr. Ripley
James Perkins
Oct 25, 2014 James Perkins rated it really liked it
Sydney Bartleby is an American living in the English countryside with his British wife, Alicia. He's a writer down on his luck. Everything he produces seems to get knocked back, be it a TV script or a novel. The couple has grown apart and they have frequent quarrels, so Alicia goes away to be by herself for a while, although in fact, she's seeing a lover. But because she hasn't told anybody where she's going, people start to suspect that her husband has killed her. Bartleby lacks the charm and s ...more
Jan 06, 2010 Mark rated it really liked it
Highsmith is the master of the mystery. I would go so far as to call her books literature.
Marisa Goldsborough
Great book, completely mad characters!
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Patricia Highsmith was an American novelist who is known mainly for her psychological crime thrillers which have led to more than two dozen film adaptations over the years.

She lived with her grandmother, mother and later step-father (her mother divorced her natural father six months before 'Patsy' was born and married Stanley Highsmith) in Fort Worth before moving with her parents to New York in
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