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Showing 1-10 of 35 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 49 reviews
on March 28, 2016
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, their psychopathic light shines bright, making our hapless Walter more sympathetic. It’s a neat trick Highsmith pulls off, and she’s a master at it: paint everyone so reprehensible that we side with the protagonist. It works well, but better in Highsmith’s other novels. Although suspenseful and classic Highsmith, The Blunderer reaches a point where Walter keeps making one ill-fated move after another, digging his hole deeper, and the reader gives up on him. His behavior is almost mechanical, feeling like a plot device more than a real human failing, and it just doesn’t work as well here. There’s also a significant mystery that is drawn out that isn’t quite resolved regarding Walter’s wife and the book ends on a dark note to be sure, but too soon. The Blunderer opens and closes with horrific murders, and the same menacing tone is maintained throughout so fans of Highsmith won’t be disappointed but, like Walter’s unresolved desire, there’s something missing.
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on November 21, 2014
This story has a lot in common with Dostoevsky' s "Crime and Punishment" in that the detective has free rein to get inside the heads of the two suspects to force out admissions of guilt in the absence of real proof. One of the characters, Kimmel, is repugnant but intelligent. The other, Walter, is sympathetically portrayed, yet he is the blunderer who makes the ultimate blunder at the end of the story.
Another reading reveals this to be a retelling of the Whittaker Chambers-Alger Hiss saga that was occupying much of the media coverage when this novel was written. The physical descriptions match the two real-life antagonists, and the likable nature of Hiss is reflected in the portrayal of Walter. The huge amount of circumstantially incriminating but questionable evidence eventually traps Walter, much like Hiss' eventual conviction that seemed so incredible to people who were closely following the case. A question posed by this story is "what constitutes guilt?"
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on February 16, 2017
I was sitting watching this movie on Paytv one day and noticed the story line to this "A Kind of murder" movie was the same as the novel "Blunderer" I was reading. Yep, it was the novel in theater form. I had a double dose of this plot and it was great. The protagonist did silly things to cast suspension upon himself for murder. Did he comity murder? Watch it or read the novel; very suspensions!
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on June 15, 2017
Engrossing writing. Highsmith is fun to follow. Some of the writing is a bit irrational; how could someone dig a 4' X 6' grave with a pitchfork? Then carry an old carpet out of the house in the dark of night to see what it feels like to bury someone?

In the end, the kill is overkill. He was done for anyway.
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on October 26, 2013
Writers hold up mirrors to uncharted mind landscapes. Patricia knows more about us than we might think we do. Her spelling skills are impeccable: the lady never loses her thread through man's intimate alphabet. Highsmith works her way from the bright spot of A to Z's darker shades. Two characters share the Blunderer's stage. As a reader it is expected we identify with innocence. And indeed who will doubt we're not the good guy, clumsy at times, but always meaning well. Yet the uncomfortable truth that extremes are drawn together is brought to us in a very skillful process. Could it be that clumsiness is a revealing sign of premeditation ? In us as on the page, character loses its pristine clarity. Conscience sets and the moonlit Blunderer's is aglow with a different light. Most of us will come out of the experience with some uneasy insights and may ponder that we are actually 'the other'.
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on October 15, 2015
The Blunderer might seem a little slow to some readers, but Highsmith's strength is her ability to let the psychological turmoil of her protagonists develop slowly as a quasi-natural response to external events. Here our blundering anti-hero is first seen in a fairly everyday life, but the psychological pressures and the disappointments mount. The process by which Highsmith turns this average Joe into fodder for the newspapers seems credible and even inevitable. Few genre writers I know of are so adept at depicting the steady deterioration of a person's character and values, a process that kmight unfold slowly in this book. But don't take my world for it. I'm over 70 and don't, as they say, even buy green bananas.
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on March 13, 2016
This was not my favorite Highsmith novel, but her disdain for humanity was never more evident. By that measure it's a great book. But, plot makes little sense and the characters are over the top. Walter, the blunderer, lives up to distilling. His two adversaries, a murderer named Kimmel and a ruthless, violent police officer named Corbett, are hateful to the extent they have not one redeeming quality. While the overall plot fails to hold together, Kimmel's murder scheme is truly inventive. However, the murder comes early in the book and the rest of the book doesn't lo
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What does the title mean? Without giving away any critical clues, the reader quickly sees that a blundered is someone lacking an Ethical Core. What happens when a blunderer and a psychopath come together in a complicated drama? Find out in this page turning masterpiece. Watch out though as you might find that discovering how a distorted mind perceives people is terrifying.
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on October 22, 2013
It is difficult for me to say anything negative about Patricia Highsmith's work. I am a inveterate fan: I enjoy everything that she wrote and am especially fascinated by her sociopaths. This novel is an excellent example of her ability to infuse apparently ordinary people with extraordinary neurotic actions and thoughts. In this case really bad luck complicate (and wrecks) the copycat's life. It is almost on the level of my favorites, the books of the Ripliad--that's why I gave it 4 stars instead of 5, although as a crime story, it deserves a 5. The characterization of the bitchy wife is superb!
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on June 14, 2012
There is something about Highsmith's work that captivates me. It has mystery that feels it could REALLY happen to you. I am reading all of her work. I really liked Cry of The Owl, and this one did not disappoint. I am looking forward to the weekend to start Strangers on A Train. Be preparared,her endings are always of the charts.....
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