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Dogs Ransom [Paperback]

Patricia Highsmith
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Aug. 27 2002
Long out of print, this Highsmith classic resurfaces with a vengeance. The great revival of interest in Patricia Highsmith continues with the publication of this novel that will give dog owners nightmares for years to come. With an eerie simplicity of style, Highsmith turns our next-door neighbors into sadistic psychopaths, lying in wait among white picket fences and manicured lawns. In A Dog's Ransom, Highsmith blends a savage humor with brilliant social satire in this dark tale of a highminded criminal who hits a wealthy Manhattan couple where it hurts the most when he kidnaps their beloved poodle. This work attesets to Highsmith's reputation as "the poet of apprehension" (Graham Greene).

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About the Author

Patricia Highsmith is the author of such classics as Strangers on a Train and The Talented Mr. Ripley. She died in 1995 in Locarno, Switzerland.

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Customer Reviews

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4.3 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
Format:Paperback
This book tricks you into thinking it's the story of a grouchy old man who cruely kidnaps and murders a grieving Manhattan couple's poodle and the couple's efforts to get help from an apathetic police department following the loss of their dog. Early on but completely out of nowhere the book shifts it's focus to a dedicated and heroic young cop, Clarence, who decides to help the couple out of pure kindness, a kindness that leads to Clarence's destruction.
I loved the portrayal of Clarence as an obsessive do gooder who's fear of doing the wrong thing causes him to commit evil acts in the name of justice. The villain, Rowajinski, is one of her most hateful since the lawyer in A Suspension Of Mercy or David Pritchard in Ripley Under Water.
I reccomend this book highly to anyone who loves a good read and a story where the characters don't always act rational but the story stays true to life. This book shows there truly is no such thing as good or evil, it's just a matter of perception.
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4.0 out of 5 stars all this over a poodle ? May 22 2001
Format:Paperback
Familiar to most readers via her Ripley books and Strangers on a Train, Patricia Highsmith specialized in creepy portraits of sociopaths as their paths crossed and destroyed the lives of ordinary folk. This less well known little gem starts out innocently enough with a wealthy Manhattan couple and their missing dog, but gets ugly fast as the dognapper proves to be obsessed with teaching them a lesson and the young cop investigating the case turns out to be equally obsessed with protecting the couple and imposing justice.
With the kooks on both sides of the law this time there's an even more claustrophobic effect, as she shows just how frightening the people around us may be and how dangerous every day life is, but it's all offset by a dark sense of humor. It's not as good as her best, but it's worth seeking out.
GRADE : B
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4.0 out of 5 stars Clear your schedule! Jan. 20 2001
Format:Paperback
The Sunday Times said of Highsmith, "She makes books that you really can't put down." This is one of them. After 25 or 30 pages, I defy any crime & suspense fan to stop reading.
All the usual Highsmith elements are here -- smooth, accomplished writing, an absorbing plot, eerily believable characters, and an authentic feeling for locale (in this case, 1970s Manhattan); on the whole, however, the book isn't nearly as successful as many other Highsmith works. The ending is something of a shock, and leaves one wondering just what she was trying to say and accomplish; the thematic material also -- though never overt in Highsmith -- is especially hard to assemble, and creates a suspicion that, in this book, there wasn't any.
Though it's well worth reading for the page-turning suspense, I wouldn't pay too much for some rare copy -- esp. as there are plenty of other Highsmiths that are very exciting and work quite well on other levels too ("Cry of the Owl," which is still in print; "This Sweet Sickness," which isn't; and "Strangers on a Train," which has been out of print for years but will be re-issued by Norton in August 2001).
Not bad, but if you're not a Highsmith fan, trying something else first.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.1 out of 5 stars  11 reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars should have used a leash... Dec 13 2001
By lazza - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
A Dog's Ransom is classic Patricia Highsmith - that is, it is a study of how feelings of apprehension and fear overwhelm the guilty (or persons suspected of guilt). Despite its title, the book has little to do with dogs or ransom really ... although this is where the story begins.
In this novel we have a middle-aged couple in Manhatten whose little poodle is kidnapped by a mentally disturbed loner. Having reported the crime, the police are unattentive with the exception of a "do gooder" rookie. However soon this rookie, due to incompetence and personal weaknesses, gets over his head ... and soon finds himself in big trouble. Despite its slow (and somewhat contrived) beginning, the tension builds very nicely. And the ending is rather ... upsetting.
Bottom line: amongst Highsmith's better works despite a relatively low "wow!" factor. Strongly recommended for Highsmith fans. Highsmith neophytes are advised to first read her more famous works (The Talented Mr Ripley, Strangers on a Train, ..).
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not just Highsmith's best, it's the best novel period. Nov. 30 2003
By Jeffrey T. Kane - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book tricks you into thinking it's the story of a grouchy old man who cruely kidnaps and murders a grieving Manhattan couple's poodle and the couple's efforts to get help from an apathetic police department following the loss of their dog. Early on but completely out of nowhere the book shifts it's focus to a dedicated and heroic young cop, Clarence, who decides to help the couple out of pure kindness, a kindness that leads to Clarence's destruction.
I loved the portrayal of Clarence as an obsessive do gooder who's fear of doing the wrong thing causes him to commit evil acts in the name of justice. The villain, Rowajinski, is one of her most hateful since the lawyer in A Suspension Of Mercy or David Pritchard in Ripley Under Water.
I reccomend this book highly to anyone who loves a good read and a story where the characters don't always act rational but the story stays true to life. This book shows there truly is no such thing as good or evil, it's just a matter of perception.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Clear your schedule! Jan. 20 2001
By Joseph W. Smith III - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
The Sunday Times said of Highsmith, "She makes books that you really can't put down." This is one of them. After 25 or 30 pages, I defy any crime & suspense fan to stop reading.
All the usual Highsmith elements are here -- smooth, accomplished writing, an absorbing plot, eerily believable characters, and an authentic feeling for locale (in this case, 1970s Manhattan); on the whole, however, the book isn't nearly as successful as many other Highsmith works. The ending is something of a shock, and leaves one wondering just what she was trying to say and accomplish; the thematic material also -- though never overt in Highsmith -- is especially hard to assemble, and creates a suspicion that, in this book, there wasn't any.
Though it's well worth reading for the page-turning suspense, I wouldn't pay too much for some rare copy -- esp. as there are plenty of other Highsmiths that are very exciting and work quite well on other levels too ("Cry of the Owl," which is still in print; "This Sweet Sickness," which isn't; and "Strangers on a Train," which has been out of print for years but will be re-issued by Norton in August 2001).
Not bad, but if you're not a Highsmith fan, trying something else first.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Highsmith, a master of psychological suspense! Feb. 1 2011
By H.D. - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
On the surface this book deals with two men at opposite ends of society, the criminal and the police office. Beneath the surface both men are misfits and loners, the criminal obviously so, the police officer, not so apparent. Both men are drawn into a vortex, helpless to resist their own compulsions. In many ways this book is reminisent of "Strangers On A Train".
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Pet murder, stalking, obsession--Highsmith Country March 31 2010
By Kevin Orth - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Another enjoyable novel from Patricia Highsmith that shows our world of obsession, violence, envy, and urban weirdness in a fine light.
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