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Women Crime Writers: Four Suspense Novels of…

Women Crime Writers: Four Suspense Novels of the 1950s: Mischief / The…

by Sarah Weinman (Editor)

Other authors: Charlotte Armstrong (Contributor), Patricia Highsmith (Contributor), Dolores Hitchens (Contributor), Margaret Millar (Contributor)

Series: Women Crime Writers (2)

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» See also 4 mentions

The Blunderer: The following may be spoilerish, but the plot isn't the point of this novel. It begins with a man murdering his wife, in a manner obviously carefully planned not only to divert suspicion from himself, but to provide himself with an alibi. In the second chapter we meet Walter Stackhouse, a man struggling to hold on to Clara, the wife he loves, but who treats him with contempt, accuses him of drunkenness, and alienates his friends. He has raised the subject of divorce in the past, but Clara threatened to kill herself if he pursued it. Now he takes extra pains to please her, but it's clearly never going to work. Walter keeps a scrapbook of interesting tidbits he intends to work up into essays; one of those is a news clipping about the body of a woman found beaten to death near a bus rest stop. Walter surmises that the woman's husband must have killed her, although the police do not seem to be working in that direction at all. He contrives to meet the man by visiting his used book shop on the pretense of ordering an obscure legal title. He becomes slightly obsessed with the murder, and when his own wife takes a bus to visit her dying mother, he follows it in a frenzied state, contemplating the possibility of killing Clara in the manner in which he has imagined that the bookseller must have killed his wife. When the bus makes its first rest stop, Walter looks for Clara, but cannot find her. Very shortly, her body is found at the bottom of a cliff, with no injuries that suggest anything other than a fall to her death. The rest of this book is almost completely psychological, a combination of Hitchcock and Dostoyevsky, as Walter and the bookseller each become mutually convinced of the other's guilt in the death of their respective wives, while a police detective plays one against the other trying to keep them both off balance. The police captain is fiendish in his methods, and we are never sure whether he believes Walter pushed Clara over that cliff; Walter is wallowing in guilt to the point where he sometimes isn't too sure himself, and he can't leave the bookseller alone. The bookseller, on the other hand, blames Walter for turning the police's attention onto him...and so it goes. And goes, and goes...I got pretty tired of it by the end. Too much thinking. Too much talking. Too much heavy-handed irony. I got it 100 pages ago.
August 2017
  laytonwoman3rd | Aug 30, 2017 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Weinman, SarahEditorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Armstrong, CharlotteContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Highsmith, PatriciaContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Hitchens, DoloresContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Millar, MargaretContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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Four stories that examine isolated crimes within society that breed not only murder but also destructive suspicions.

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