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The Blunderer

3.77  ·  Rating Details  ·  940 Ratings  ·  90 Reviews
For two years, Walter Stackhouse has been a faithful and supportive husband to his wife, Clara. She is distant and neurotic, and Walter finds himself harboring gruesome fantasies about her demise. When Clara's dead body turns up at the bottom of a cliff in a manner uncannily resembling the recent death of a woman named Helen Kimmel who was murdered by her husband, Walter f ...more
Paperback, 288 pages
Published November 17th 2001 by W. W. Norton & Company (first published December 17th 1954)
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Sep 20, 2012 Jessica rated it really liked it
Here is Highsmith with one of her very best. Walter Stackhouse is a sympathetic protagonist as is his girlfriend Elli. You like him, root for him, even feel compassion for Kimmell who really has killed his wife (Stackhouse is suspected in what looks to be a copycat murder). It's Corby, the young, ambitious police detective that you begin to hate...with his strong arm tactics and bulldog ways. Highsmith understands all too well the terrain of marriage gone bad, and the interplay between detective ...more
Nancy Oakes
Jul 19, 2015 Nancy Oakes rated it really liked it
As I posted in a status update yesterday afternoon on goodreads (at page 209),
"I just love Patricia Highsmith's work. I'm sitting here reading this today, and my tension level has been ratcheted up more than a few times throughout this story. I so want to peek at the end to make sure everything comes out all right, but this is Highsmith, so I know it won't."

and as things turned out, I was right. But that's Highsmith for you: things don't always go the way you think they should in her books. She
Ms. Jared
May 11, 2016 Ms. Jared rated it really liked it
I love Patricia Highsmith! She is such a great writer and so good at making you empathize with the seedier characters in life.

This was a page turner and easy read that I really enjoyed about a murderer and a non-murderer who causes a lot of problems for himself when he reads about a murder in the paper.

The plot is interesting and suspenseful and moves really quickly. The characters are realistic and fully developed and you really feel like you know them. That's what I love about Highsmith: she's
Dec 30, 2013 Melanie rated it it was amazing
Reading about an idiot has never been more infuriating, but in a good way. I kept turning the pages in the hopes the protagonist would acquire some common sense from somewhere. Anywhere. The book made me want to scream at the protagonist. I pulled out some of my hair in frustration. I think I had an arterial infarc in my brain, which I can't afford to let happen. The Blunderer is all that and more but not in a funny way; In an incendiary way to be sure. Not for those with heart conditions or hig ...more
Sep 30, 2015 Moureco rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
O melhor livro policial de Patricia Highsmith que li até ao momento. (O melhor livro da autora que já li é o volume 'Pequenos Contos da Misoginia', que é hilariante.) Prende-nos do princípio ao fim. Mais do que um policial, é um thriller psicológico com personagens muito, mas muito, bem desenhadas.
Apr 09, 2009 Lynn rated it really liked it
This was engrossing and I really enjoyed it and tried to drag it out. But sadly, toward the end, I lost interest. It kind of reminded me of the end of "Rear Window," in that it was exactly what you would think would happen, and not particularly interesting anymore by the time you get there. My reaction to the end was sort of, "Yep, that sure sucks." While it seems like almost any ending would have been better and more creative (i.e. there was no murder, it was all a misunderstanding! Or...I don' ...more
Bruce Beckham
Feb 13, 2016 Bruce Beckham rated it really liked it
Another enthralling journey of suspense from Patricia Highsmith.

She employs the unusual device of describing two entirely unrelated sets of circumstances, leaving the reader to wonder how they will come together.

They do indeed converge, in an increasingly sinister manner - with the threat of murder lurking in the shadows of almost every scene.

To some extent she offers a choice of protagonist, presenting the reader with reasons to identify with both of the main characters and the cop that pursues
Jan 21, 2016 christa rated it liked it
Patricia Highsmith’s old-school suspense novel “The Blunderer” opens with the perfect crime. A thoroughly up-to-here husband buys a movie ticket, seeks out a familiar face to acknowledge his presence, then sneaks out the back door of the theater. His wife is off to visit her mother and he intercepts the bus at a midway stopping point. He coaxes her away from other passengers and murders her, leaving her in the grass next to the highway.
Then he winds his way back home, secure that his ticket stu
Nov 15, 2015 Tony rated it really liked it
THE BLUNDERER. (1954). Patricia Highsmith. ****1/2.
The lives of two men become conjoined when both are accused of murdering their respective wives. The story opens with the depiction of a brutal murder of a woman who has disembarked from her bus at a rest stop. She is lured to a remote spot by her (presumably) husband, and violently done to death. We don’t know who they are or any more about the murder scene. The next chapter introduces us to Walter and Clara, a married couple who are going thro
Sep 28, 2015 Joseph rated it really liked it
Most murder mystery/thriller stories, no matter how well-written, usually lead to a cat-and-mouse game between the cop and the killer where the killer either gets caught or gets away, after much paranoia, plotting, close-calls etc.

This book has several themes worthy of an entire novel that doesn't revert to murder and cops, and a writer capable of developing them, but doesn't. The poisonous marriage of Walter and Clara is powerfully rendered in their dialogue,some of the best I've ever read on
Ignacio Rodríguez Cravero
“The Blunderer” está uno o dos peldaños abajo de la calidad de “Extraños en un tren” o “El Talentoso Sr. Ripley”. En mi opinión, la autora dejó la vara muy alta con estas historias y esta vez no colmó mis expectativas.
Patricia Highsmith nos cuenta tempranamente los sucesos delictivos y las muertes pertinentes del caso, porque su intención esta vez no es elaborar una trama policial, misteriosa ni de suspenso. La novela refleja más el drama del protagonista, su angustia, sus miedos y el torbellino
Max Tomlinson
Mar 30, 2016 Max Tomlinson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Dark novel of a would-be murderer

Contains Spoilers!

The Blunderer is a man named Walter whose wife is such a shrew that the reader would forgive him for doing away with her. He doesn’t but thinks about it and that’s enough for this twisted morality tale. Walter furtively follows a man who did what Walter dreams of and pays the price as if he did the deed himself.

Highsmith’s characters are well drawn and believable and—typical of Highsmith—unbalanced. From sadistic policemen to compulsive killers
Mar 08, 2016 Brett rated it really liked it
Really great story writing. So far what I've read of Highsmith I really like. Not sure if I'll ever do the Benjamin Buttons series but...This is a well crafted story about how a little curiosity, a bad marital situation and a few little lies can get way out of hand. H. does a great job inflaming your anger - there were several parts of this book where I just wanted to hit somebody - like in a good way though ;-)
Jul 24, 2016 Beverley rated it really liked it
Enthralling. Completely noir. The opening scene is one of premeditated violence and then we cut to a fairly ordinary guy in a marriage seemingly gone sour. It's not until later that lives intertwine and with the help of dubious police methods spiral out of the control of the two main protagonists. High smith on top form.
Michael Ritchie
Jul 28, 2016 Michael Ritchie rated it really liked it
Brutal, unpleasant story of a bookseller who kills his wife and appears to get away with it until a lawyer reads about the woman's murder in the paper and considers using the same means and method to get rid of his wife. Like a riff on Highsmith's earlier Strangers on a Train. She spins her wheels a bit and things bog down in the middle, but the first and last thirds are compelling, and the character of the sadistic cop is memorable.
Carla Remy
Feb 14, 2016 Carla Remy rated it really liked it
Murder shadowing other (violent, graphic) murder, murder shadowing not murder. Two men shadowing (or mirroring) each other. Longer than it probably should be. Just very Highsmith.
May 22, 2014 Lobstergirl rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Gregg Jarrett

Ah, the mid-20th century. When you come down with the flu, your wife assembles around you everything you will "need:" Cigarettes, matches...

The doctor pays house calls and will pump your stomach in the comfort of your own bedroom.

Completely middle class people have servants who fix their dinner and lay out their clothes on the bed so they can pack for trips.

Suicide is a crime. If you survive your suicide attempt, you could be in trouble with the law!

As with most Highsmith, there's a big "ick" fa
Jul 08, 2016 E.G. rated it really liked it
An insidious read about someone that you find yourself cheering for despite the destruction brought by each action, each turn of chapter. Highsmith has captured three fascinating characters in a death-struggle and turns it inside-out in the end.

Louise Muddle
Mar 14, 2016 Louise Muddle rated it liked it
Great opening scene that catches your attention by the scruff, clever plot and a horrible inevitability about the way things unravel for Walter Stackhouse. Raises questions about guilt and intent. Difficult to like or care about any of the characters though as they are all repugnant even 'innocent' Walter. His relationship with his controlling wife Carla was well-drawn. There are no good women in this novel - Ellie Breiss is wet and passive and not very believable, she falls in love with him in ...more
Robin Friedman
Oct 02, 2015 Robin Friedman rated it really liked it
Patricia Highsmith's 1954 novel, "The Blunderer" is the second of four novels included in a new Library of America volume, "Women Crime Writers: Four Suspense Novels of the 1950s." The LOA book in its turn is part of a two-volume box set edited by Sarah Weinman of Women Crime Writers of the 1940s and 1950s, which includes eight novels by eight women writers of suspense fiction. The LOA kindly has given me a review copy of the box set. I am enjoying working through the individual novels.

Of the ei
Steve Isaak
Dec 29, 2014 Steve Isaak rated it liked it
Blunderer is a good, intense thriller where Highsmith's trademark panicky murder suspect (a spineless Walter Stackhouse) encounters a self-assured killer (Melchior Kimmel), as well as a blunt, relentless cop (Detective Corby) who is bent on breaking both of them even - especially - if it kills them. Worth owning, this.


One film has resulted from this novel; another is forthcoming.

The first cinematic version is titled Enough Rope . It was filmed in 1963 and released stateside on July 14, 1966. C
Πάνος Τουρλής
Η Πατρίσια Χάισμιθ είναι πολύ δυνατή συγγραφέας. Ένιωθα σαν να διάβαζα μια πολύ καλή Αγκάθα Κρίστι. Αγωνιώδες, ανατρεπτικό. Αν και φλύαρο ως προς την ψυχολογία των ηρώων και τις καθημερινές τους κινήσεις είναι έτσι γραμμένο που δεν το βαριέσαι. Ακριβώς στο ψαχνό!
Είμαι λίγο διστακτικός ως προς το εξής: δεν είναι ξεκάθαρη η υπόθεση και το τέλος είναι πολύ μπερδεμένο. Αν ισχύει αυτό που σκέφτομαι, ναι είναι αξιόλογο βιβλίο, αν είναι γενικό και σκέψου ό,τι θες δε μου άρεσε καθόλου. Κατά τη γνώμη μο
Jun 17, 2016 LemmiSchmoeker rated it it was amazing
I haven't read much Highsmith, I'm afraid, and have often been told that's a big mistake.

This book may surely be used as evidence against me, as it shows a mastership of the art on every level: meticulously structured, with an ever increasing pace, and wonderfully imaginative, it's a perfect example of a thriller that isn't clichéd at any point.
Patrícia Gonçalves
Feb 20, 2016 Patrícia Gonçalves rated it really liked it
Shelves: call-the-police
This is my third Highsmith book and although I continue to love the writing and the touch of blood you can feel on each page, I've got to admit I'm a little bit disturbed.
I'll clarify. At the same time I read this book I was/am also reading Joan Schenkar's biography of Miss Highsmith (I'm not sure I'll finish it, because it's not well structured).
The reason I find the book disturbing is because in Miss Schenkar's book she reports a lot of Highsmith's personal life episodes, particularly with on
Jun 17, 2016 Sarah rated it it was amazing
Another great Highsmith novel. Three protagonists, Stakehouse, Kimmet and a young policeman goading them to 'admit' the truth. I am still replaying the end in my mind. I am still relatively new to her books. She is an incredible writer and takes you right into the minds of the main characters.
Nov 17, 2015 Scilla rated it it was ok
Kimmel follows the bus his wife is riding. When it stops at a rest stop, he asks he to come aside and talk with him. He then viciously kills her by the side of the road. Then, a lawyer Stackhouse, reads about the death of Kimmel's wife and assumes that Kimmel killed her. He tears out the column for his notebook of strange things he might write about. Stackhouse then goes to Kimmel's bookstore just to see the man, and he orders a book. Stackhouse has a love/hate relationship with his own wife. Ho ...more
Kristiina Raden
Jan 25, 2015 Kristiina Raden rated it liked it
This was more of a psychological book then a thriller. It's main character is a wretch and a blundering lior with a guilty conscience. Although innosent, he seems to make all the mistakes a guilty person does. On the other hand , another character in this book, a real murderer doesn't make any mistakes, but the blunderer makes police suspicious of him too. And the police in the book is only looking for his own best interest, for fame and praise. So all the characters in this book are more or les ...more
Martijn Onderwater
Jul 02, 2014 Martijn Onderwater rated it did not like it
Wow, it was not funny, not exciting, not intriguing, and definitely not worth reviewing any further.
Jul 07, 2016 Dianne rated it really liked it
I have decided to read all Patricia Highsmith books, assuming I can get copies of them as many were written back in the 50's. Having already ready Carol and The Talented Mr. Ripley, I was on to The Blunderer. Highsmith has such a brilliant way of drawing you into the mind of the main character. In the Blunderer, you felt the frustration of the protagonist in his relationship with his wife and ultimately in the aftermath of her death. Always at the forefront of your thoughts was did he or didn't ...more
May 02, 2013 Troy rated it really liked it
A stiff midday drink. An eruption of violence. The monotony of daily conventions. The falseness of friends and the corruptibility of all.

Damn, I love Highsmith. In her noir, the people who deserve to be punished most of all are the schmucks who believe in life and friends and smiles and the trappings of clean kitchens and modern living and conventions and fuck you and die.

That pleasant veneer, once scratched, reveals boiling and bubbling riots of hatred and passions. Like all great noir, one tou
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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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