A Suspension of Mercy

Sydney Bartleby has killed his wife, Alicia—at least he has thought about it, compulsively, over and over again, plotting schemes, designing escapes, forging alibis. Of course he has; he’s a mystery-script writer. But when Alicia takes a long, unannounced vacation, Sydney seizes the opportunity to perfect his artistic method.

I bought this book on a whim! I was buying some books and had budgeted a certain amount to spend that day and still had budget left for one more book purchase, so I picked this one up as it sounded very interesting and I love a murder mystery! I later learned that this author also wrote Strangers on a Train. I remember reading Strangers on a Train, when I was possibly too young to be reading Strangers on a Train, and really enjoying it. So I was very excited to read it. I do wish that I hadn’t known that it was the same author as I maybe had higher expectations but I did still enjoy it.

Every character in this book was awful. All of them. Even the nice, wee old lady neighbour. I can’t remember the last time I read a book where everyone was terrible, there’s usually someone to root for. Someone to support but not in this book. It was actually quite therapeutic being able to just get all my venom out towards these characters (I’m not particularly venomous but it was nice).

Sydney was an ass. Just an ass. He was selfish, he was ignorant, obnoxious, abusive…he was so easy to hate. He was so focussed on having his scripts accepted for tv that he was utterly neglectful of the mere existence of others. He clearly hated his wife despite only being married for a very short length of time.

Alicia was also a terrible person but to a far lesser extent than Sydney. She was cruel and manipulative. Almost a perfect pairing but still, she deserved better than Sydney who deserved nobody.

I really enjoyed the plot of Alicia just disappearing. It felt realistic that Sydney wouldn’t worry or show any concern at all and just enjoy living as a bachelor. Did I mention that he was an ass? He got himself into sticky situations by trying to be clever. He acted like he was the smartest person in the room and this was his downfall as he got caught up in his web of lies. He looked so guilty! However, he was so focussed on his writing that he didn’t even realise how much trouble he was in.

This was a tough book to rate because I really enjoyed the plot but I hated the characters. I didn’t care whether Sydney did it or not because he’s a character and not a real person. If he were real then I’d definitely want him to receive fair treatment and justice. But this was fiction so I was ok with not caring whether he was actually guilty or not.

The last third of this book was utterly ridiculous. It just went too far and was completely unbelievable. I didn’t really enjoy the ending as I felt like it was tied up so quickly which just seemed to easy. It was an overall enjoyable book (although there are some extremely dated terms due to the age of the book) but the ending ruined it for me. I’m still keen to see how I get on with some of the author’s other works though!

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