In which Patricia Highsmith writes a kind of Agatha Christie novel. But not one of the detective ones. In this novel we find hack American writer Sydney Bartleby in a loveless and acrimonious marriage to English (middling) heiress Alicia. As it goes, as his writing career becomes increasingly more anemic, his distaste and disdain for the woman closest to him, who sees him, and worse, sees his increasing and inarguable failure he grows more and more hateful of her.
But shocker! He doesn’t kill her. Instead, when his hatred has finally driven her into the arms of another lover and she leaves him without informing any of her friends or family, he acts like he might have murdered her. What this means is that he treats her disappearance as an opportunity to play the suspected husband. He carried a conspicuous rug into his car and buries it in the woods. He makes pointed and falsely ironic suggestions to their mutual friends. He acts deeply suspicious and defensive with the investigating police. And well it goes from there.
Ultimately this one is quite good and I myself was caught in the writing about whether or not he actually killed her because of the elaborate and detailed scenarios he comes up with in his head. I think this one would also make a really entertaining film as well and someone could really ham it up with the murder scenarios and the acting.
I also love that Highsmith does that thing where she creates a writer character clearly cobbled together from some recognizable features of other writers in a kind of amalgamation of a subtweet.