Highsmith is a master of stark, poetic prose, acclaimed for her relentless themes of murder and psychological torment. She is best known for her series of five Tom Ripley novels, popularly referred to as the Ripliad. Like the Ripley stories, Highsmith's debut book, Strangers on a Train, is most remembered for its adaptation to the screen. Its hypnotic plot revolves around a moment between two strangers and one very out-of-the-ordinary proposition: "...what an idea! We murder for each other, see? I kill your wife and you kill my father!" Yes, Hitchcock made that famous movie, but Highsmith's original novel is more complex and far darker. More than just a gripping thriller, this fascinating character study asks the question: What is the dividing line between sanity and madness, between the hunted and the hunter? Recommended By Gigi L., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
With the acclaim for The Talented Mr. Ripley, more film projects in production, and two biographies forthcoming, expatriate legend Patricia Highsmith would be shocked to see that she has finally arrived in her homeland. Throughout her career, Highsmith brought a keen literary eye and a genius for plumbing the psychopathic mind to more than thirty works of fiction, unparalleled in their placid deviousness and sardonic humor. With deadpan accuracy, she delighted in creating true sociopaths in the guise of the everyday man or woman. Now, one of her finest works is again in print: Strangers on a Train, Highsmith's first novel and the source for Alfred Hitchcock's classic 1953 film. With this novel, Highsmith revels in eliciting the unsettling psychological forces that lurk beneath the surface of everyday contemporary life.
"It's no surprise that Hitchcock picked this story for a screen adaptation in 1951. With its slow-building tension, it is perfect material for the master of suspense. But, as is the case with most book-vs.-movie comparisons, the novel wins out. Highsmith's scalpel-precise language and complex psychological development twist an ordinary encounter between two strangers into an disquieting tale of obsession and peril." Ann Ellenbecker, Powells.com
(read the entire Powells.com review)
"Highsmith's novels are peerlessly disturbing....bad dreams that keep us thrashing for the rest of the night." The New Yorker
"For eliciting the menace that lurks in familiar surroundings, there's no one like Patricia Highsmith." Time
"From the I can't believe this is out of print department comes Highsmith's white-knuckler and the basis of the Hitchcock film of the same name. With this, her first novel, Highsmith set the pattern she would follow in later books, introducing sociopaths who are so subtle they can pass unnoticed in the world around them." Library Journal
"One of our greatest modernist writers." Gore Vidal
The world of Patricia Highsmith has always been filled with ordinary people, all of whom are capable of very ordinary crimes. This theme was present from the beginning, when her debut, Strangers on a Train, galvanized the reading public. Here we encounter Guy Haines and Charles Anthony Bruno, passengers on the same train. But while Guy is a successful architect in the midst of a divorce, Bruno turns out to be a sadistic psychopath who manipulates Guy into swapping murders with him. "Some people are better off dead," Bruno remarks, "like your wife and my father, for instance." As Bruno carries out his twisted plan, Guy is trapped in Highsmith's perilous world, where, under the right circumstances, anybody is capable of murder.
The inspiration for Alfred Hitchcock's classic 1951 film, Strangers on a Train launched Highsmith on a prolific career of noir fiction, proving her a master at depicting the unsettling forces that tremble beneath the surface of everyday contemporary life.
A major new reissue of the work of a classic noir novelist.
About the Author
Patricia Highsmith (1921-1995) was the author of more than twenty novels, including Strangers on a Train, and, The Price of Salt, as well as numerous short stories.