Strangers on a train ne level 4/book Paperback – Apr 2 2008
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From Library Journal
Highsmith's 1950 debut novel made her famous (and inspired a Hitchcock film) but, unlike some of her later titles, was never recorded. William Roberts does the reading honors.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
An incredible study of psychological torture and how fine the membrane is between normality and the underlying darkness. — Tana French
Strangers on a Train is a moral-vertigo thriller: Crime and Punishment for a post-atomic age. — Tom Nolan (The Los Angeles Times) --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
Through the whole story a very complex relationship between these two men evolves just because of this accidental meeting on the train. Patricia Highsmith shows her ability to describe such relationships in a wonderful way. She tells a whole story with a relationship and has no need of any kind of big surprise effects to turn around the whole story. The reader is always up-to-date concerning the main action. Although it's not boring at all, because the real tension of the story is not created by the progression of the actions but by the progression of the relationship.
"Straingers on a Train" is not a typical detective story. Highsmith's protagonist is not a private detective who solves the case gloriously. The two murderers are protagonists, the reader even shares the suffering of the two men running away from the "bad" police. This complete role reversal - together with many other unusual initial positions - makes the book to a unique reading enjoyment. Absolutely recommendable!
Highsmith's book focuses on two men in their twenties, Charlie Bruno and Guy Haines. The former is of great New York wealth, but is troubled and is headed for cataclysmic disaster, which he appears eager to reach fast through his alcoholic dissipation and all-purpose troublemaking. The latter has worked his way upward from a modest, middle class background in his native Texas to become one of America's premier architects before reaching his thirtieth birthday.
Under normal circumstances these individuals would probably never cross paths, but fate intervenes when they travel on the same train and meet as a result of the extroverted Bruno forcing himself on the more introspective Haines, who does not want to appear rude. When Bruno learns that Haines is faced with an unpleasant divorce situation in dealing with a promiscuous wife, the inebriated Bruno jolts his more stable traveling companion by suggesting that they swap murders. Someone who avidly reads mystery books, Bruno states that they would each perform a perfect crime since they would each be killing total strangers and there is nothing to link them to their victims. Bruno wants Haines to kill his father, who is standing in the way of his getting access to the family wealth. The reason for his hatred of his father is also linked to his slavish devotion to his mother, who is seen as a quasi-deity to the troubled young man.Read more ›
With that said, Strangers on a Train lives up to its reputation as a significant first effort by Highsmith. Those familiar with her work will recognize the beginnings of themes she continues to explore throughout her life. Primarily, this work presents a sympathetic murderer-- like Ripley-- a person who, the reader believes has to murder. Like Flannery O'Connor, Highsmith has an uncanny ability to place us in the minds of characters who face circumstances that seemingly force them to do unthinkable things. She follows with guilt-- or lack thereof-- that confronts characters based on the strength of their conscience. It reminds us that often the worst decisions are made at times when the choice seemed rational under the circumstances.
I have yet to view Hitchcock's take on this novel. It is, undoubtedly, immensely difficult to portray a story that takes place mostly inside the characters minds on the big screen. For that reason alone, those who have seen the movie should consider reading this book.
Most recent customer reviews
Delightful read. This story strung me along and made me wonder how people can get caught up in very unsavoury situations.Published 5 months ago by Amazon Customer
You've seen the movie of this book even if you don't realize it. A sound tale that will give you wonder to those you've shared some secret with.Published 12 months ago by Aaron Taylor
I went into this already familiar with Hitchcock's film version of the same story. The opening premise of the film and HighSmith's novel are the same. Read morePublished on Jan. 10 2012 by Arah-Lynda Hay
This is one of those rare cases when the movie is actually better than the book. If you want the definitive version of this story, then watch the movie. Read morePublished on July 4 2008 by Joel Cormier
I don't know why it surprises me to discover that Hollywood has tampered with a novel. Having only seen the Hitchcock film scripted by Raymond Chandler, I was blown away by this... Read morePublished on July 9 2004 by I. Sondel
"Stranger on a Train" is a really interesting book. It has a lot of crazy things in it and the main person is a real psychopath but I guess that's what makes the book so special. Read morePublished on June 22 2004
Highly entertaining and original, even though so many rip-offs have been produced since its debut. Highsmith does a titanic job of studying the cat-and-mouse psychology of Guy and... Read morePublished on Dec 12 2003 by Nelson Aspen
...than the movie! As I recall it, the character of Bruno never develops in the movie beyond that of a randomly-met psychopath; the portrayal of Guy, for that matter, is rather... Read morePublished on Oct. 30 2003 by P. Micocci
I found the dialog between the two potential accomplices in the train was the best part of the book. Read morePublished on July 13 2003 by Jean-Marc M Salama