Thursday, February 04, 2010

10.04 The Blunderer by Patricia Highsmith

The Blunderer (1954) by Patricia Highsmith Trade, Norton, 265 p.

Lament For A Lover is a pretty awkward title for a great psychological thriller. The Blunderer is Walter Stackhouse, a husband, a lawyer and wound incredibly tight. He is married to neurotic Clara who is alternately a harridan and devoted to her husband. The live in the highly codified world of 50's Long Island - the friends, barbecues and parties always require the couple to put on a mask that Stackhouse hates. A newspaper article about the alleged murder of a Newark man's wife lodges in Walters brain and he wonders if he could do the same thing. On a bus trip to her mothers Clara turns up dead in the same way as the other woman and Walter comes under scrutiny.

The story tracks Walter and the Newark man, Kimmel as their paths become more intertwined with each other. Highsmith writes with tension all the time both giving the inner obsessions and moving the plot along. Walters every blunder is so well rationalized that you wonder how he could be losing his reputation and friends. Of course, everyoe in the book is so repressed (it is Highsmith, after all) that there is every opportunity for misunderstandings to occur. Just when things are getting jacked up, Highsmith drops a psychotic cop into the mix for the explosive conclusion in Central Park.

1 comment:

WalkerP said...

Is that the actual version of the book that you read?