The Blunderer

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The Blunderer
First edition (US)
Author Patricia Highsmith
Country United States
Language English
Genre Suspense / Psychological Thriller
Publisher Coward-McCann (US, 1954); W. W. Norton & Company (US, 2001)
Publication date
Media type Print (Hardback & Paperback)
Pages 288 pp
ISBN 978-0-393-32244-6
OCLC 48053872
813/.54 21
LC Class PS3558.I366 B58 2001
Preceded by The Price of Salt
Followed by The Talented Mr. Ripley

The Blunderer is a psychological thriller by Patricia Highsmith, first published in 1954 by Coward-McCann. It is Highsmith's third novel. It was brought back into print in the US in 2001 by W. W. Norton & Company.[1]


For years, mild mannered lawyer Walter Stackhouse has suffered as a result of his neurotic, unstable wife Clara, whose constant alienation of all his friends, coupled with her penchant for overly dramatic gestures, has slowly driven him to hate her. After he becomes infatuated with the sweet and sensuous music teacher Ellie Briess, Clara jealously attempts suicide via an overdose, forcing him into her arms once again. However, he eventually stands his ground and demands a divorce. When Clara subsequently turns up dead, having fallen off a cliff during a bus trip to see her dying mother, Walter finds himself blundering around in the dark as the official investigation ensues. He admits that he stalked her bus in his car, whilst daydreaming about the possibility of killing her at the first stop, just as Melchior J. Kimmel, a 40-year-old bookshop manager, murdered his own domineering partner Helen, an unsolved crime that Walter had read of in the paper and grown fascinated by.

Both men soon encounter the formidable, possibly psychotic Lieutenant Lawrence Corby, a police officer with savage ambition who is convinced of their guilt and believes that they are somehow in cahoots with one another. He soon begins encroaching on his suspects' lives, sowing the seeds of doubt into the minds of those they care for and even ferociously assaulting Kimmel.

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