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The Blunderer

3.78 of 5 stars 3.78  ·  rating details  ·  575 ratings  ·  45 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, 265 pages
Published November 17th 2001 by W. W. Norton & Company (first published December 17th 1954)
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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
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
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
May 22, 2014 Lobstergirl rated it 3 of 5 stars
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
Steve Isaak
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. Cl
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
Kristiina Raden
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
Wow, it was not funny, not exciting, not intriguing, and definitely not worth reviewing any further.
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
Highsmith was always best remembered as the author of her debut, Strangers on a Train, and in later years as the author of the Ripley novels which, like Strangers, have been the source of a number of films. Well regarded in Europe by readers and critics, in the US she is still seen primarily as a genre writer. However, don't underestimate Highsmith, the crime and mystery categories were her metier but her work is more morally and psychologically complex than you find in the average murder story. ...more
Recently I discovered, to my surprise, that the inventor of the movie character of Mr. Ripley is a woman, and she wrote thrillers in the fifties. So I decided to give it a try with this book and a couple of others I had around.
The Blunderer is a very good thriller, and it kept me locked in for an entire weekend. The style and setting is typical of the most classical noir, like those b&w movies that I like so much. The pace is fast and the writing very effective.

Anyway I'm very picky about th
I have just found Highsmith and loved Deep Water. This book seemed scattered to me and I couldn't get a hand on the main character. He did so many things I wanted to shout at him about. (sorry!) the book deals with relationships in marriage but also in a strange relationship with 2 husbands. The first killed his wife, the second was accused but was innocent. the innocent man did SO many stupid things that I almost couldn't bear it. The book left me unsatisfied.

Enter at your own risk/
Ronald Wilcox
I think Highsmith was an excellent writer but this one was not her best effort. Walter Stackhouse sees a notice in the paper about a woman who was killed near a rest stop when she got off a bus. He figures her husband probably followed the bus and lured her into the woods to kill her so decides he wants to see what the husband looked like and goes to his bookstore. Walter is unhappy in his own marriage and wants to divorce his own wife and when she decides to take a bus trip, he decides to try t ...more
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Linda Rowland
I like this author very much. I had not read anything by her until now. She was writing when someone could tell a story in less than 500 pages, and that does appeal to me.
Of all the possible endings I could think of, the one she chooses is way different.
Karin Slaughter
I am re-reading this because I was asked to write about it for an American Library thing. I have to say, it's just shocking how good Highsmith was. I am in awe.
Bill FromPA
An engaging, dark thriller from Highsmith; in a cliche which is seldom true for me, this was a book I found it hard to put down. The main element of doubt I had in the end was whether Walter Stackhouse, a lawyer himself, would have let his situation go so far without having retained a criminal lawyer; I have not yet decided whether Highsmith has made him sufficiently obsessive, impulsive, and irrational in order to make this negligence believable. The plot is unusual enough that I had little ide ...more
3.5 stars - The connection between Stackhouse and Kimmel often felt like a twist on Strangers on a Train. The story has a strong beginning (following a shocking first chapter), but fell apart for me at the end. This era of novels could include a lot of murder, mayhem, and (perceived or not) immorality, but typically required that justice and morality was righted in the end. Highsmith sometimes let people get away with it and those books seem more authentic than the books with a tacked on moral r ...more
This lesser-known Highsmith was mentioned in an '09 Guardian article on her work. The title is subtly understated, considering what the protagonist, a well-to-do lawyer in an unhappy marriage, gets himself into. The narrative drive is supercharged, and she never lets the tension lag.

An odd and inconsequential thing I've noticed in Highsmith books is her relative disregard to geographic distance between points. In the Ripley books, Ripley is forever dashing off from "Bel Ombre" to London or Berl
Liked this Highsmith much less than anything else I've read by her. I like the premise, I like the story and it was gripping, strange, and dark enough, but somehow the characters never came alive for me. which has never really happened to me in a highsmith book. the hardest thing for me was to understand walter-- he seemed so ugly and unattractive, yet he was supposed to be a young, successful and attractive lawyer. someone who a mild-mannered and pretty musician could fall in love with.
but, it
As good as a couple of the Ripley books. I enjoyed the book.
Milo King
Highsmith's second novel (after Strangers on a Train). Psychological, dark, creepy, brooding, and always with the threat of brutal violence lingering. Not a place you want to live, but the kind of scenario we are used to visiting in crime shows like the Law & Order spinoffs. This is the first of Highsmith's novels I've read, and I get the feeling the young novelist is beginning to polish her craft...I'm looking forward to more complex and richer works later in the catalog.
A pretty bad novel with a totally convoluted plot that can't even be explained becaue it doesn't even make sense. Not only that, but if you can believe a lawyer allowing a policeman to ransack his home without a search warrant, then this book is for you. Another suspected murderer is perpetually tortured without ever seeking legal protection. Implausible and impossible to digest, one of Highsmith's worst.
Patricia Highsmith is terrible when it come to private hell description.Her book make me uneasy,like been feverish and not being able to think straight.The same with Stranger on the train,one went to go through it fast,a feeling of being trapped,the claustrophobie of a world slowly closing on itself.And it is all so banal,everyone could be as stupid as the blunderer.
Guillermina Olmedo
i read it with a certain amount of pleasure but found that the most important move in the book, the rising action, is totally unexplainable, the reason behind it, very weak, gratuitous... the rest is really well written and good for a mystery.

This wasn't as gripping as I had been led to believe. It had Highsmith's trademark detailed descriptions of the everyday life and thoughts of people undergoing severe psychological turmoil, but I personally preferred Deep Water.
I love reading Patricia Highsmith. The only reason I gave 3 stars is because towards the end the story seemed to blunder or have no direction. The actual ending itself was appropriate and confirmed why I love reading Highsmith.
The characters were neither likable on a personal level, nor fascinating, as is Tom Ripley in Highsmith's better-known series of novels. As ever, Highsmith's writing shines, but the plot is less than engaging.
Jane Anne
Oh, I really loved this book -- even want to read it again. Either this or THE GLASS CELL involves a fat guy who owns a bookstore, kills his wife, and is stalked by a detective! Loved it, loved it, loved it!
Patricia Highsmith is SOOOOOO good at creating a mood! Very noir without being cliche in any form. The title actually lends itself to the story, which so often doesn't happen in mystery stories.
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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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