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Strangers on a Train by Patricia Highsmith

Strangers on a Train (1950)

by Patricia Highsmith

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Showing 1-5 of 30 (next | show all)
I've liked other Highsmith books more than I liked this one, but I still thought this book was good, although some parts of it definitely could have been shortened. I listened to the audiobook and that may be why my chief impression of Bruno is that he was a whiny, self-pitying drunk. Maybe the narrator did too good a job. Bruno was nothing like the charismatic sociopath that Highsmith created in her Ripley series. I saw the movie based on this book eons ago and all I remember is that both actors were extraordinarily handsome, so I have no idea how closely the movie followed the book. The book is worth reading, but if you're new to Highsmith I would recommend starting with "The Talented Mr. Ripley". ( )
  fhudnell | Mar 17, 2016 |
This was an excellent read - dark, disturbing and compelling, a real psychological thriller not so much focussed on the act of murder but on what drives people to it and the aftermath of guilt and psychological effects. ( )
  Laurochka | Feb 6, 2016 |

The psychologists would call it folie a deux...

'Bruno slammed his palms together. 'Hey! Cheeses, what an idea! I kill your wife and you kill my father! We meet on a train, see, and nobody knows we know each other! Perfect alibis! Catch?''

From this moment, almost against his conscious will, Guy Haines is trapped in a nightmare of shared guilt and an insidious merging of personalities.

“Miss Highsmith…is a writer who has created a world of her own – a world claustrophobic and irrational which we enter each time with a sense of personal danger” – Graham Greene
My take........

A 1950 book for Rich Westwood’s Past Offences – Crimes of the Century meme and after an aborted reading attempt of Highsmith’s The Talented Mr Ripley some years ago – my first proper read of the author. (Check out other crime fans 1950 books here.)

I did have a look at the book initially – 250-odd pages and think, okay – biff, bang, bosh – two days reading job done. Well Pat from Texas soon put pay to that notion. I read it from the 13th until the 23rd at an average of 25 pages a day. Each time I put the book down, I felt absolutely exhausted.

Tough writing, tough to read, she forces you to pay attention and concentrate on every word. Maybe I‘m usually a lazy reader and I only skim-read, I don’t know.

Enjoyed? No, more like endured.

Plot – amazing premise – two strangers meet on a train and kill for each other. No motive – the perfect crime.

Pace – pedestrian, leaden-footed.

Characters – Charles Bruno – slightly more interesting than Guy Haines. There’s an air of manic unpredictability about him. He seems to oscillate between wanting to either screw his mother or Guy Haines or maybe both at the same time – which would have made for a slightly more interesting book. Guy Haines – the somewhat unwilling participant in our scheme – idealistic and weak. I kind of wished he had missed that train and then I could have been spared all that followed.

I’m fairly sure Highsmith and psychological suspense and drama is not my thing, but I suppose I’ll have to try another from her to confirm. I previously thought when discarding Ripley, it was a case of right book, but the wrong time - it may well be there is no right time.

Overall - not great - though the ending was a wee bit better than what had come before, albeit somewhat predictable. I was a bit unconvinced at Markham’s capacity to assist our dogged detective Gerard in unmasking Guy. He seemed too slow-witted for such duplicity.

A generous 3 from 5

Bought second hand several years ago, possibly after suffering some kind of concussion which temporarily relieved me of my senses.

http://col2910.blogspot.co.uk/2016/01... ( )
  col2910 | Jan 30, 2016 |
I picked this up because it was referenced as the inspiration for another book I recently enjoyed, The Kind Worth Killing. In this novel Bruno and Guy meet by chance on a train. After a brief conversation they realize that they both have people that they hate in their lives and if they each killed the other person's problem then they couldn't be caught because there is no connection between them. Guy and Bruno leave the train with Guy, at least in his mind backing out of the deal and thinking that he will never see Bruno again. Alas for poor Guy his problems have just begun because Bruno is one loose cannon. As the pressure on him ramps up Guy begins to pyschologically unravel and althought the end is not that surprising it is enjoyable none the less.

I love books that capture a period of time like a snapshot. The food, and the drinks, and the social smoking are so specific to the 1950's. It was like an episode of Mad Men. The book is a real time trip back to 1950. I can easily see why this book is such a classic and a touchstone for pop culture. It's a very enjoyable pyschological thriller. ( )
  arielfl | Sep 4, 2015 |
It's perhaps ironic that, having read all of the Ripley novels years ago and loved them, that I would only now get around to reading (listening, actually) to Strangers on a Train. The basic plot must, by now, be well-known to just about everyone. For the three of you who don't know the story, two men meet while having drinks on a train and discuss their respective complaints about Bruno's father and Guy's ex-wife, both of whom are making their respective lives miserable.

Bruno, hatches a one-sided plan for each of them to commit the perfect murder by having each one take care of the other's problem. Guy, an up-and-coming architect with a new girl friend wants nothing to do with the crazy idea. Bruno assumes it's a deal and eliminates Miriam, Guy's ex. He then begins to hound Guy to fulfill the other side of the "bargain."

The suspense comes from watching the effect on Guy of Bruno's incessant badgering for him to complete his end of the "bargain." As others have noted, this is not your standard mystery, but it's a marvelous "why done it," and examination of the human mind's capacity for guilt and evil. ( )
1 vote ecw0647 | Dec 31, 2013 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Patricia Highsmithprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Docktor, IrvIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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The train tore along with an angry, irregular rhythm. It was having to stop at smaller and more frequent stations, where it would wait impatiently for a moment, then attack the prarie again. But progress was imperceptible. The prarie only undulated like a vast, pink-tan blanket being casually shaken. The faster the train went, the more bouyant and taunting the undulations.

Guy took his eyes from the window and hitched himself back against the seat.
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Book description
Almost against his will, Guy Haines is trapped in a nightmare of shared guilt when he agrees to kill the father of the man who will kill Guy's wife.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0393321983, Paperback)

A major new reissue of the work of a classic noir novelist.

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.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:23:59 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

"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."--P. [4] of cover.… (more)

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