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Venedig kann sehr kalt sein. by Patricia…
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Venedig kann sehr kalt sein. (original 1967; edition 2000)

by Patricia Highsmith

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Member:AFBorchert
Title:Venedig kann sehr kalt sein.
Authors:Patricia Highsmith
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Tags:Amerikanische Literatur, Roman, Krimi

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Those Who Walk Away by Patricia Highsmith (1967)

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Note: There are spoilers in this review.

My 2014 reading resolutions involve tackling more books written before 2000 and books that have been sitting on my shelves for awhile, so I decided to make a dent in my stack of Patricia Highsmith novels. This is my first Highsmith novel, but I’ve seen the movie version of The Talented Mr. Ripley from the 1990′s.

So Those Who Walk Away begins with Ray, a young widower, being shot by his former father in law, Coleman, in Venice just three weeks after Ray’s wife and Coleman’s only child Peggy killed herself in Mallorca, where the young couple was living for the year after they married. Ray is merely grazed, but the rest of the novel involves Ray and Coleman’s violent encounters and hiding from each other around Venice. Ray doesn’t report the murder attempt and later hides from Coleman, which is not a response I expected from him.

The book spends most of its time in Ray’s head, but Coleman gets several chapters as well. Even though we spend the novels in their heads, I don’t really feel like I got to know them, though. Coleman and Peggy are artists, and Ray is an aspiring gallery owner who is schmoozing painters in Europe during his extended honeymoon. It’s a novel that takes place among a small circle of rich ex-pats with artistic leanings and a handful of Italian people they take in their confidences, and Highsmith is playing with the idea of what you do when you suspect someone of murder. In this case, most people do nothing. It’s a grim worldview.

It’s a strange book because I was expecting more action after the attempted murder of Ray on page 2, but I assume Highsmith is trying to be realistic: lots of people go unpunished by the criminal justice system, lots of people feel guilty about suicides of their spouses and family members, and some relationships are irreparably broken over such a tragedy. That being said, I finished the book feeling quite uneasy about the characters: I’m still pretty suspicious of Ray by the end. All in all, this book was disturbing, but it wasn’t as disturbing as I was expecting from Highsmith.
  rkreish | Feb 21, 2014 |
Another classic in the same vein as Highsmith's Ripley series. The setting is Venice during the winter. It's dreary. Ray, whose wife committed suicide some weeks before, has followed his father-in-law, Ed Coleman, from Rome where Ed tried to shoot him. Ed thinks his son-in-law didn't do enough to prevent the suicide. There follows a bizarre pas-de-deux between the two as each circles the other, Ed, distraught over the death of his daughter, and Ray trying to make amends. Ed makes other attempts on Ray's life. Ray survives each attempt and follows Ed Coleman, in an attempt to seek forgiveness, only to be dragged back to reality.

The book has the same dream-like (nightmarish?) quality made famous by Highsmith's Ripley series. Ray and Ed both live in a world of opaque amorality. The settings (mostly Venice) are well-described and we see into the minds of both men as Highsmith switches back and forth between the two perspectives. Not your usual thriller.

Having read the Ripley series I kept "assuming" that Ray had had a hand in his wife's suicide. No one is innocent in her novels, nor does the the question of what is "right" ever come up. Self-interest is paramount. All actions are judged from that perspective. ( )
  ecw0647 | Sep 30, 2013 |
This was one of my favorite of the Highsmith novels I've read. The back-and-forth between the main character, a bereaved husband, and his father-and-law, was absolutely priceless. As was the strange detachment and blind eye that their mutual friends turned towards the obvious conflict between the two. It was refreshing that the main character was always in the right (Highsmith has a way with turning the main characters into villains that you can sympathize with), but it was also interesting to see him possibly turned into a criminal by the end of the book.

I also loved the Venetian setting. Perfect for sneaking around in, drowning people, springing out of back allies, et cetera.

I was a little disappointed by the conclusion. As much as I was really rooting for the main character to stay on the side of the law, the father-in-law really did have it coming by the end of the book. I was also disappointed the main character didn't try harder to... press charges, or call attention to the father-in-law's repeated attempts at murder. But overall I loved this book. I think only The Talented Mr. Ripley really topped it in my mind among all the Highsmith novels I've read. ( )
  ConnieJo | Mar 4, 2011 |
An intelligent and haunting murder (or is it murder?) set in Venice. It made me want to learn Italian (which I since have taken classes in). ( )
  bastet | Sep 26, 2007 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0871132591, Paperback)

The honeymoon is over, as they say, the bride dead by her own hand. Ray Garrett, the grieving husband, convinces the police in Rome of his innocence, but not his thuggish father-in-law, an American painter named Ed Coleman, who shoots him at point-blank range and leaves him for dead. Ray survives, however, and follows Coleman to Venice, where the two fall into an eerie game of cat-and-mouse—Coleman obsessed with vengeance and Ray equally insistent on clearing his conscience, though each is at once the hunter and the hunted in a duel composed of tension, hiding, and guessing, and at times punctuated by violence that, even as each manages to walk away, draws them nearer to death.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:23:11 -0400)

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