Strangers on A Train

Strangers on A Train

Book - 2001
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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.

Publisher: New York : W.W. Norton & Co, 2001, c1950
ISBN: 9780393321982
0393321983
Characteristics: 281 p

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haileyj
Jan 07, 2016

This was the first Patricia Highsmith novel I've read and it was definitely of the "noir" variety. The meeting of two strangers on a train and the plot once concocts and the other can't run away from makes compelling reading, but it is very dark. I might read more of her work but I would "space it out", otherwise it's too depressing. The Talented Mr Ripley by the same author is similar in it's depiction of truly evil people.

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lukasevansherman
Sep 23, 2014

Patricia Highsmith's first novel, from 1950, and the basis for Hitchcock's film, which is quite different. If anything, Highsmith's novel, about a plot to swap murders, is darker, creepier, and more nihilistic than the film. Like Hitchcock, she is interested in guilt, particularly that of the architect character, but the character of Charles Bruno is a straight up, remorseless (and alcoholic) psychopath. Graham Greene called her "the poet of apprehension." If you like this, check out her celebrated Ripley series. (Oh, contrary to the other comment, the "tennis star" character is an architect in the book, unlike the film.)

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