These stories are sometimes rather creepy, often kind of bizarre and sometimes tragic. In one of the best of these, The Kite, a boy, Walter, of around twelve who is a solitary kind of kid, makes a kite in memory of his younger sister Elsie, who has died of pneumonia. The making of the kite is described in some detail, and during this we get the cold atmosphere between his parents, who argue constantly. Highsmith is so good at suggesting this undercurrent of displeasure with just a few words and a visit to his least-liked grandmother where he spills a dish of ice-cream and gets a mild but humiliating rebuke. The kite is the most sophisticated he has built, and the strongest. You won't like the ending one bit.
Highsmith often sites her stories in banal, ordinary settings but the action is often out of anyone's experience, as when in Something The Cat Dragged In, a whole small community of people collude in keeping quiet about a murder. In Under A Dark Angel's Eye, a man discovers he has been lied to and his money stolen in an ingenious scam perpetrated by the Manager of an old people's home. Then, after having found out what has been happening, a series of events leads to two deaths, and a very discomforting denouement. Sometimes the most unobnoxious of events gets out of control, as in Not One of Us, when callousness reaches too far. The title story is enigmatic to the nth degree when a younger man is attacked after exploring an abandoned house - he ends up in a coma. Odd, out of sync, unexpected and sometimes chilling, these stories defy genre, they are, just as they are. Confounding and grim, but a very easy read. Perhaps, sometimes, too easy to really make an impact.