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A Suspension of Mercy
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A Suspension of Mercy

3.85 of 5 stars 3.85  ·  rating details  ·  484 ratings  ·  52 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, 224 pages
Published August 17th 2001 by W. W. Norton & Company (first published 1965)
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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
Michael N
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
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
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
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.
James Perkins
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
Highsmith is the master of the mystery. I would go so far as to call her books literature.
Michael Springer
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
Orlando Fato
"A Suspension of Mercy" is a good book; however:

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 inter
I think my last Highsmith review accurately described my ambivalence toward her work: With Highsmith, I generally feel that I haven't been left with very much. People are brought together by random circumstances; their weaknesses are their downfall, or the downfall of others; innocence is corrupted, either by encounters with evil or by a drive to do good that goes awry; right and wrong are blurred and muddled; and in the end, someone dies. Her stories, even the Ripley stories, leave me unsatisfi ...more
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
Aug 27, 2009 tENTATIVELY, cONVENIENCE rated it 5 of 5 stars
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
Nancy Day
Patricia Highsmith writes these erudite, spare psychological thrillers that never seem to fail. Suspension of Mercy is another one, in which people's everyday lives turn dire and threatening. This one reminded me a bit of Gone Girl, but is better written - Highsmith is a very skilled writer who uses simple words and clever juxtapositions that insert small but significant twists into each paragraph. The gripe I have about Highsmith (and Gone Girl, for that matter), is that it's very hard to sympa ...more
Cori Arnold
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.
I enjoyed this book while I was reading it but I was never compelled to read it unless there was just nothing else to do. What is it with the novels lately? I burn through non-fiction but the novels drag like a swollen ass. Highsmith was a very wicked lady and I enjoyed Ripley's Game and The Blunderer quite a bit. Plus, I want to read the rest of the Ripley books and Strangers On A Train some day. This one has a cool plot I just wish it picked up the pace and it's only just over 200 pages. Maybe ...more
L'épouse d'un écrivain décide volontairement de disparaitre pour faire le point avant de décider d'éventuellement divorcer.

Pendant qu'elle est loin,l'écrivain, pour tester son imagination, réfléchit au moyen de tuer sa femme, vérifie réellement ses méthodes et se comporte comme un coupable au point de ne plus bien savoir lui-même ce qu'il en est.

Les deux protagonistes sont au courant de l'état d'esprit de l'autre mais en gardent le secret.

Le temps passe. Les amis s'interrogent, la police se ra
I'm still confused about how this happened, but somehow when I purchased this book (kindle daily deal) I had the idea that this was a Patricia Highsmith sci-fi/fantasy novel. This was reinforced by the cover, which, at approximately 200x300 pixels, looks a little bit squid-ish. Cthulu-esque, anyway. If you do not look closely.

I was probably halfway through the book before I realized that there would be no androids, elves, or laser weapons of any type. That was a bit of a disappointment.

The boo
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
Patricia Higsmith, muhteşem bir polisiye yazarı. Bu kitabı da Trendeki Yabancılar ve Yetenekli Bay Ripley kadar başarılı...
Ghada Ghidhan
The first novel
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.
Feb 20, 2008 Spiros rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: aficionados of sphincter-clenching prose
Shelves: citylights
Once again, Highsmith provides an excruciating read. Curiously, this story of unsuccessful writer Sydney Bartleby, who comes under suspicion of murdering his estranged wife, presages an article in last week's "New Yorker", in which a Polish author is under arrest for having written a book which closely mirrors the circumstances of an unsolved crime.
I feel that Patricia Highsmith would have been a rather uncomfortable person to be around.
Not her strongest--as much as I love Highsmith, she reaches in this one. The POV is out of control in some scenes, too. Mrs. Lilybanks POV seemed unnecessary overall, and when the narrator moves between Sydney and Lilybanks in the same scene, the book loses it.

At the same time, true to "form," at points in the book I felt simultaneously scared and disgusted--and worried, late at night, that someone was on the balcony off my bedroom.
Kilian Metcalf
A friend gave me a copy of the movie The Talented Mr Ripley, which I enjoyed very much. The movie piqued my curiosity about the author of the book it was based on, so I started taking a look at Patricia Highsmith. Another of her books, Strangers on a Train, was also made into an award-winning movie. Suspension of Mercy fits right in, with excitement, suspense, and tension right up to the last page. A real page-turner.

Chris Percival
Far, far darker than its initially domestic setting led me to expect, this is probably the most engrossing novel I've read this year - so much so that I bought it on Monday afternoon, started it Monday night, and finished it Wednesday evening - as well as the most convincing study of the psychology of murder i've ever come across. Patricia Highsmith must have been a right crazy one, fo sho!
Great story, and I loved Highsmith's prose in this one. She's got such a clear voice and weaves the plot lines together beautifully. Sydney is a fun character, one you hate and love at the same time.
This was my cup of tea. Sort of like a still life painting that comes to's looks normal but starts to get creepy in a very subtle way. Oddly I found myself in collusion with Sydney. The writing reminded me of The a brimstone wedding by Barbara Vine and even a little Muriel Spark like.
Afgezien van een paar sterfgevallen gebeurt er eigenlijk heel weinig in dit boek, het meeste speelt zich af tussen de oren van de hoofdpersoon, dus in zoverre viel het een beetje tegen, maar dankzij Highsmiths meesterlijke schrijfstijl bleef het me tóch boeien.
I'm so disappointed. I picked this up at a used book sale at the library, the idea behind it sounded fantastic. The book itself was slow moving and the story line was unfilling and hardly believable. Such a shame, it could have been so good.
fear and loathing from characters that are truly dispicable. If you have no problem reading a story that centers around selfish, maniacal, misanthropic people....then dig in. You will love it, i sure did.
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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
More about Patricia Highsmith...
The Talented Mr. Ripley (Ripley, #1) Strangers on a Train The Price of Salt Ripley's Game (Ripley, #3) Ripley Under Ground (Ripley, #2)

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