The Horizontal Man

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Pub Date 14 Jul 2020 | Archive Date 01 Sep 2020

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Description

A philandering professor on the faculty of an Ivy League school is found murdered, setting off ripple effects of anxiety, suspicion, and panic in this Edgar Award-winning classic from 1946.

The Horizontal Man was Helen Eustis's only crime novel, and she won an Edgar Award for it, combining a wildly disparate set of elements into an enduringly fascinating work. In its way it is a classical whodunit that stands comparison with old-school practitioners such as Agatha Christie or Dorothy Sayers. This mystery transpires in the rarefied precincts of the English department of a venerable New England college, one very much of the restless postwar moment, echoing with references to Freud and Kafka. Eustis finds comedy high and low in a cavalcade of characters bursting at the seams with repressed sexual longings and simmering malice. Beyond the satire, she stirs up--with a narrative whose multiple viewpoints give the book a striking modernistic edge--a troubling sense of the mental chaos lurking just beneath the civilized surfaces of her academic setting.
A philandering professor on the faculty of an Ivy League school is found murdered, setting off ripple effects of anxiety, suspicion, and panic in this Edgar Award-winning classic from 1946.

The...

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ISBN 9781598536317
PRICE $14.95 (USD)
PAGES 230

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Featured Reviews

I'm glad the Library of America is publishing these works by women crime writers of the 40s and 50s. Lost classics that would probably never have read. This was another book in the series, with an guilty party that I did not see coming. Great buildup, with characters you care about.

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The Horizontal Man by Helen Eustis
Original Publication Date: 1946
Publication Date: July 14, 2020

Description from NetGalley...
“A philandering professor on the faculty of an Ivy League school is found murdered, setting off ripple effects of anxiety, suspicion, and panic in this Edgar Award-winning classic from 1946.

The Horizontal Man was Helen Eustis's only crime novel, and she won an Edgar Award for it, combining a wildly disparate set of elements into an enduringly fascinating work. In its way it is a classical whodunit that stands comparison with old-school practitioners such as Agatha Christie or Dorothy Sayers. This mystery transpires in the rarefied precincts of the English department of a venerable New England college, one very much of the restless postwar moment, echoing with references to Freud and Kafka. Eustis finds comedy high and low in a cavalcade of characters bursting at the seams with repressed sexual longings and simmering malice. Beyond the satire, she stirs up--with a narrative whose multiple viewpoints give the book a striking modernistic edge--a troubling sense of the mental chaos lurking just beneath the civilized surfaces of her academic setting.”

Thank you to @NetGalley @libraryofamerica for the digital ARC in return for my honest review.

My thoughts...
When you read this, remember that it was written in the 1940s because it reads like the extreme end of the psychopathic and with melodramatic characters. Now that you’re prepared, it’s a psychological crime novel, a crime of passion, where Eustis includes personal experiences (I read her bio beforehand, i.e. her real philandering husband who was a professor). This book has won awards because of how she explored schizophrenia, took it to the world of dark psychology and most likely, it’s a new approach to crime fiction during its’ time. It was an intriguing read, where it seemed ever character had mental or emotional issues that you welcome the more rational of characters. I did figure out the killer before the end, but it did not spoil the ending for me. This is one of those books Library of America is publishing that are works by women crime writers of the 40s and 50s.

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An excellent mystery by a new to me author. I appreciated the storytelling, the solid mystery and the fleshed out characters.
I will keep an eye on other books by this collection because this one was excellent.
Highly recommended.
Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for this ARC, all opinions are mine

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A really interesting campus satire / murder mystery / Freudian examination of the American psyche. The multiple points of view in the novel showcase the deep inner worlds of all the characters, and the academic satire was funny. And it was great to see how my perception of each character shifted as I got to live inside of their head - Eustis writes great characters with varied voices, motivations, and styles. But (not surprisingly for a book that's nearly 75 years old) the gender roles have really dated and the core psychological mechanisms are really outdated.

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