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A Suspension of Mercy [Kindle Edition]

Patricia Highsmith
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)

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Book Description

A major new reissue of the work of a classic noir novelist.

With the acclaim for The Talented Mr. Ripley, more film projects in production, and two biographies forthcoming, expatriate legend Patricia Highsmith would be shocked to see that she has finally arrived in her homeland. Throughout her career, Highsmith brought a keen literary eye and a genius for plumbing the psychopathic mind to more than thirty works of fiction, unparalleled in their placid deviousness and sardonic humor. With deadpan accuracy, she delighted in creating true sociopaths in the guise of the everyday man or woman. Now, one of her finest works is again in print: A Suspension of Mercy, a masterpiece of noir fantasy. With this novel, Highsmith revels in eliciting the unsettling psychological forces that lurk beneath the surface of everyday contemporary life. "For eliciting the menace that lurks in familiar surroundings, there's no one like Patricia Highsmith."—Time "Highsmith's novels are peerlessly disturbing ....bad dreams that keep us thrashing for the rest of the night."—The New Yorker

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Six years after her death, Patricia Highsmith is in the middle of a renaissance. Since the release of Anthony Minghella's film of The Talented Mr. Ripley, her stock has been steadily rising among readers. Two reissues, A Suspension of Mercy and Strangers on a Train, feed the flames. In A Suspension of Mercy, American freelance writer Sydney becomes obsessed with the putative murder of his English wife, Alicia; in Strangers on a Train, the source for Hitchcock's 1953 classic, one man's guilty conscience disrupts two men's criminal plans. The movie rights to A Suspension of Mercy have been optioned by Warner Bros. for Heyday Films.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.


For eliciting the menace that lurks in familiar surroundings, there's no one like Patricia Highsmith. -- Time

Product Details

  • File Size: 1147 KB
  • Print Length: 242 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; Reprint edition (August 17, 2001)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B007Q6XJ6I
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #164,118 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
4.1 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable suspense novel April 26, 2002
I'm so glad that the works of Patricia Highsmith have been reissued (I particularly love her Ripley series). This book is similar in many ways to the Ripley books - male protagonist who is an amoral American living in the European countryside and married to a European. Sydney is an unsuccessful American mystery writer, who finds himself unhappy in his marriage. His wife, Alicia, is a bit critical of Sydney and he finds his imagination plotting her murder. The suspense comes from guessing whether he will end up killing her and whether he will get away with it. The plot twists are rather clever, although very little of what happens is particularly believable and the ending is a let-down. Despite these flaws, Highsmith's writing style is so smooth and enjoyable that I found myself liking this book a great deal. Highly recommmended for suspense book lovers and fans of the Ripley series.
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25 of 28 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Highsmith was NOT a crime writer.... January 7, 2004
...and this novel is an example. Because her characters often engage in activities that are illegal or, at least, immoral, American publishers have classified her work as "crime fiction," or something similar. Highsmith's fiction was decidedly NOT crime fiction, and people who read Grafton, Cornwell, or Kellerman might be disappointed. There are no good guys, bad guys, hunky detectives, loyal girl Fridays, or love stories. Just people we normally meet, taking extraordinary chances or exploring weird indulgences. Who hasn't fantasized about killing one's spouse (or parent, child, friend, enemy, etc.)?
Read any of Patricia Highsmith's work as if you were reading a classic novelist--Dostoevsky, perhaps. In Highsmith's vision, crime is a metaphor representing the oddly amoral choices we make out of our natural narcissism or neurosis. The discomfort you feel while reading a Highsmith novel? Be warned: that's your conscience scraping its fingernails across the blackboard of your soul. Pleasant? No. Dangerous, guilty, neurotic fun? You bet!
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Another strange Highsmith brew December 10, 2001
There is something tantalyzing about reading a book that could only be a book; a story that hides behind the fact that you can only know what you are told, never what you see. Is the story-teller of this novel (the original title was, I believe, "The Storyteller") telling us the bizarre and awful things he is doing or is he working out the plotline of a new fiction? Curious characters and situations, and some very odd behavior that stretches your reader's patience. But we do not go to Highsmith to meet conventional people with conventional behavior; we ask her to introduce us to the perverse and psychologically messy people we hope we never meet outside of her pages.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Love and marriage. March 25, 2010
A Suspension of Mercy by the highly acclaimed Patricia Highsmith starts off essentially as a dark comedy in that there's much ado about a murder that hasn't taken place. Not much of real interest happens for long stretches of narrative as characters are methodically introduced and fleshed out to varying degrees.

By design, the first 60% of the book is slow moving and, at times, maddeningly dull. It was Highsmith's intention to show that evil is not something exotic but rather it derives from the very ordinary. That which is monstrous resides in the everyday. Evil lurks in our neighbors, our friends, our family members, ourselves. So, the reader must patiently watch as the characters do unexciting, everyday things even though such mundane activities are often very dull.

The action picks up in the last 40% of A Suspension of Mercy. Here, some real criminality rears its ugly head. But there are problems here as well. More often than not, Highsmith has her characters do things that make little sense and, even more disturbingly, seem completely out of character. That's particularly disappointing since Highsmith's best work is known for showcasing great characters who display highly recognizable personality types and behave in the exact ways such personality types would be expected to behave.

A Suspension of Mercy is disappointingly inferior to Highsmith's best work. Not recommended.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
By lazza
Having read most of Highsmith's novels I've become rather critical of her work in both good and bad ways. While undoubtedly gifted in generating suspense out of thin air, many of her stories are formulaic ... with the sense Highsmith is "manufacturing" the novel rather than it be a result of inspiration. However when Patricia Highsmith has a truly new and creative thought she produces great stuff (The Talented Mr Ripley, This Sweet Sickness, Strangers on a Train). How does Suspension of Mercy hold up?? Rather well, actually.
Suspension of Mercy is a story about a crime novelist and screenwriter who imagines what it would be like to kill his wife ... nothing more than a morbid 'hobby'. However when his wife walks out and keeps her whereabouts unknown people begin to talk, the police get involved, and ... it gets interesting. Highsmith does a wonderful job on focusing on the nervous, neurotic behaviour of the characters. While the story isn't entirely believable I found the ending to be rather good.
Bottom line: a very competent effort by Highsmith. Not among her very best, but certainly a polished piece of mystery writing.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars There is no one like Patricia Highsmith. It's a cult
I love Patricia Highsmith. There is no one like her to confuse evil with crime. And I loved this book only found the ending just a bit "off". Doesn't matter. Read more
Published 4 months ago by toots
5.0 out of 5 stars Well plotted and good level of tension
Well plotted and good level of tension. Spoiler alert: I would hazard a guess that this book provided the basis for the current best seller Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, except this... Read more
Published 5 months ago by James S. Evidon
4.0 out of 5 stars A Slow Delicious Descent Into Betrayal and Insanity
My local library is having a big reading promotion for both adults and children this summer with large reading lists for all age groups and interests. Ms. Read more
Published 22 months ago by Airmid
3.0 out of 5 stars Not my favorite Highsmith
I love Patricia Highsmith, but for some reason this book didn't keep my attention going as well as her other books and short stories.
Published 22 months ago by KWarner
5.0 out of 5 stars just keeps getting better
I just love Highsmith's books, no matter what you think is going to happen, she manages to take you down a completely different path to the end.
Published 22 months ago by Marion Jones
4.0 out of 5 stars A Mildly Wicked Clever Twisty Tale
This work reminded me of Barbara Vine/ Ruth Rendell. I loved the quaint matter of factness in the evilness and in the politeness of the characters. Read more
Published 22 months ago by Toast Bunny
4.0 out of 5 stars Not the best Highsmith, but still surprising and psychologically...
My exposure to the work of Patricia Highsmith is sadly lacking; although I've read most of the Ripley books (which are outstanding, in case you haven't read them), all of my other... Read more
Published 23 months ago by Josh Mauthe
4.0 out of 5 stars As good as the rest
This is another swell story from Patricia Highsmith. They all seem to have the same sort of story line but I love her writing. I'm working on "The Talented Mr. Read more
Published on May 6, 2013 by Taffy Moto
5.0 out of 5 stars Twisty
My first experience wit Highsmith, but it won't be my last. Started slowly, with lots of scene setting and character development but picked up with a twisty plot.
Published on March 17, 2013 by Stanley Townsend
5.0 out of 5 stars Superior crime fiction
If you are already a Highsmith fan, but have missed this one. you won't be disappointed. If you are new to her books, this is not a bad place to start. Read more
Published on March 16, 2013 by Stuart A
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More About the Author

Patricia Highsmith (1921-1995) was the author of more than twenty novels, including Strangers on a Train, The Price of Salt and The Talented Mr. Ripley, as well as numerous short stories.

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