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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars dark, disturbing and sophisticated.
"Strangers On A Train" bears many comparisons with Patricia Highsmith's other great work "The Talented Mr Ripley", in fact it can almost be seen as a precursor to it. Both introduce central characters that are incredibly dark and complex, and both show extreme obsession ending in murder. The character of Charles Bruno in this must surely rank as one of the greatest...
Published on 25 Nov. 2003 by S. Hapgood

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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Psychopathy & Tragedy - Shakespeare on a Train
An interesting idea - two men meet on a train and discover that they each have someone in their lives whom they want dead. They discuss the possibility of swapping murders, thus leaving no trace of themselves at the scene and allowing each of them to constuct an alibi. Ingenious.

But the real power of this book lies in Highsmith's exploration of a murderer's...
Published on 18 Mar. 2010 by Book Scout


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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars dark, disturbing and sophisticated., 25 Nov. 2003
By 
S. Hapgood "www.sjhstrangetales.com" - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Strangers On A Train (Paperback)
"Strangers On A Train" bears many comparisons with Patricia Highsmith's other great work "The Talented Mr Ripley", in fact it can almost be seen as a precursor to it. Both introduce central characters that are incredibly dark and complex, and both show extreme obsession ending in murder. The character of Charles Bruno in this must surely rank as one of the greatest psychological profiles of a villain/misfit/outsider (take your pick) ever committed to paper, comparable with Graham Greene's portrayal of Pinky in "Brighton Rock", or Alex in Anthony Burgess's "A Clockwork Orange". We know he is a disturbed young man right from the outset, when he meets Guy on the train and indulges in a fatal and macabre "what if?" game with him. There is something almost Faustian about all this, as Guy gets drawn into a deadly game with someone who could almost be the Devil in human form.
As the book goes on and Guy gets himself deeper and deeper into Bruno's web, you find yourself asking if Guy is perhaps as innocent himself as he would like you to believe. That this isn't a simple case of a variation on the good twin/evil twin plot, but that Bruno is bringing out a dark side to Guy's character that he deep down wants to indulge. Bruno's own derangement, his alcohol-fuelled deleriums are disturbing, as is his infantile dependance on his awful mother, who wants to keep him forever as her spoilt little boy.
There are many classy touches to this book, including Bruno's seeming ability to be able to appear supernaturally inside locked rooms! And I can't see a fairground carousel anymore without thinking of Guy's wife and "The Girl With The Strawberry Curl", or whatever it was. There have been a few attempts to film this, (including a perfectly abominable t.v film in which Guy and Bruno's characters were done as women instead), but Alfred Hitchcock's is the only one worth seeing.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Always Worth Reading, 27 Feb. 2014
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M. Dowden (London, UK) - See all my reviews
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I was very happy to find this available on kindle as it means that now I won’t have to buy any more copies as my tree book copy is falling to pieces. I have always enjoyed this darkly delicious tale although I suspect more people have seen the film than have read the book. Within a few pages you will see why Hitchcock wanted to buy the film rights for this. The tale is just so psychologically dark, and is full of suspense. This was Patricia Highsmith’s first novel and in many ways set the tone for most of her later works.

Guy Haines is travelling by train and gets talking to Charles Bruno. Bruno, who is already slightly drunk, tells Guy of his plan for a perfect murder, and thus inadvertently Guy finds himself caught up in something he would rather not be. When Guy’s wife, whom he wants to divorce anyway, is murdered, Guy finds he has to reciprocate for Bruno, and kill his father.

As the story continues on its dark path it is Bruno, a drunk, most probably psychotic person who can’t seem to take his original advice to heart. Indeed it is Charles Bruno who is the most interesting character. You feel homosexual undertones coming off him, as well as a slightly incestuous feeling towards his mother. The question is always though, will the perfect crime have been committed and the two get away with murder, or will they become undone?

This is always well worth reading and draws you in from the very beginning with its darkly fantastic plot.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Cool, dark and compelling, 30 Jun. 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: Strangers On A Train (Paperback)
This may be Patricia Highsmith's first published novel but it shall certainly not be my last. I love everything about Highsmith's style. I love her straight, confident story-telling manner. I love her settings (here it's New York City and other American cities). I love her characters: affluent Americans from another age and the people they rub shoulders with, and I love the chilling world she creates of dirty deeds, guilt and temptation.
Until the closing chapter, I really did not know how this story would end, nor did I know how I wanted it to end. I was completely in the hands of the writer, entrapped in her strange world.
This book has a lot in common with Robert Louis Stevenson's "The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde". The haunting of the 'good' character by his 'evil' twin is the guts of the novel.
In summary, this is a cool, dark, stylish thriller. Highsmith is in excellent form here. This book is perfect summer holiday reading!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An original and enthralling crime story, 11 Dec. 2014
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This review is from: Strangers On A Train (Paperback)
I don't read many crime stories but this one is outstanding with a wholly original idea as far as I know. I'm sure most people know the plot, perhaps from the Hitchcock film even more than from the book. The premise is that two strangers meet on a train and one of them offers the idea that because both of them have someone of whom they would like to be rid, each will commit the murder for the other with whom they have no connection, thus leaving no obvious motive for the police to investigate.

Charles Bruno who devises the scheme, is rich, alcoholic and a psycho with an abnormal affection for his mother. He is also very likely gay though this is not stated overtly, rather by suggestion that he falls in love with Guy Haines, the other man on the train. In contrast to the crazy Bruno, Haines is a normal individual.

Haines gives no more thought to the plan after leaving the train, regarding it as just drunken talk. However Bruno is serious and murders Haines' estranged wife, then expects Haines to murder his, Bruno's, father as his part of the bargain. Haines, horrified by this and lacking Bruno's craziness, has no intention initially of doing so but Bruno invades his personal and professional life, stalks him and drives him to despair whereupon he eventually does the deed.

The ending is quite different to the Hitchcock film so don't expect that.

I can't find much to criticise here. It's well written and you have just got to keep reading to find out what happens.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Superb suspense of how a good person can be dragged into a nightmare., 25 Mar. 2013
This review is from: Strangers On A Train (Paperback)
I liked the first two thirds of the book, but found the last third very hard to get through. The repetitious nature of primary character Guy's self torture was relentless and really draining; the same thing over and over.

I did though love the first part, particularly the opening scene is superb. The raising of and maintaining the suspense at a relentless pace is also superb. I loved the vivid portrayal of how an essentially good person can be blackmailed and dragged into a nightmare by a madman is presented. These people were innocent and trusting and did not know how to handle the crazy person invading their lives.

The author has used mainly 2 POVs - that of the main character Guy and the crazy protagonist Bruno's, but has interspersed 3 other POVs sparingly - that of Bruno's mother's, of Guy's wife Anne's, and the investigator Gerard's. At times POVs switch between Bruno's and his mother's, Bruno's and Anne's in the middle of the same scene. I didn't think Bruno's mother's or Anne's POVs were necessary; they slightly weakened these scenes.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It is very good, but I am not sure if my coming ..., 24 Aug. 2014
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I had never read any of Highsmith's books, so I decided to start with this. It is very different from the Hitchcock film, except for the murder, which is the same. I saw the stage version at Christmas last year, and that was quite true to the novel. It is very good, but I am not sure if my coming to the book after the film and stage production makes it less exciting, because there are no surprises. I recommend it, and am very happy I bought it.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent, 8 Aug. 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: Strangers On A Train (Paperback)
Highsmith's ability as a writer is clear in this novel. Her depiction of Guy and Bruno and the claustrophobic atmosphere she creates throughout Strangers on a Train combine to make a compelling read. Read this book, its what crime writing is all about!
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Psychopathy & Tragedy - Shakespeare on a Train, 18 Mar. 2010
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This review is from: Strangers On A Train (Paperback)
An interesting idea - two men meet on a train and discover that they each have someone in their lives whom they want dead. They discuss the possibility of swapping murders, thus leaving no trace of themselves at the scene and allowing each of them to constuct an alibi. Ingenious.

But the real power of this book lies in Highsmith's exploration of a murderer's guilt. The minute but constant decay of a tortured psyche. The impact that the wrong decision can have on one man's life as it steadily unravels beyond his control.

At times this book is philosophical and questions the validty of good and evil co-existing in all men. But the plot is incredibly frustrating too - there are too many bad decisions made by the main protagonist that leave you incredulous. In this respect it reminded me of a Shakespearean tragedy, played out with Othello and Iago or Macbeth and Lady Macbeth. Tragedy is inevitable when a character allows his weaknesses to be exploited and Highsmith achieves this in a masterly way, never letting the tension ease, and one catasrophe and bad decision roll into another creating a demonic snowball of events.

There are moments of true genius in Strangers on a Train but I found it labourious to read at times, with too many peripheral characters and the main characters' actions were sometimes too frustrating and lacked genuine resolve. But I may be being too harsh. Strangers on a Train is a cut above your average thriller and contains many things worth thinking about. On another reading I may give five stars, as it is a book that needs to savoured and turned over in your mind, and not all crime/thrillers can be accused of such psychological depth.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Classic suspense, 8 Jan. 2004
By 
HORAK (Zug, Switzerland) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Strangers On A Train (Paperback)
This is the author’s highly acclaimed debut novel. Two men, an architect, Guy Haines, and a psychopath, Charles Bruno, meet on a train to swap murders. Charles will kill Guy’s wife Miriam and Guy will kill Charles’ father. A chance meeting and a rash conversation will trap Guy Haines, almost against his will, in a nightmare. This is a cunningly plotted melodrama and I read it with thorough enjoyment. Alfred Hitchcock shot a film baring the same name and the movie is equally thrilling. Classic suspense is still the best in my view!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars more than Hitchcock, 28 Jan. 2014
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This review is from: Strangers On A Train (Paperback)
If you only know this through Alfred Hitchcock's superb film than you are in for a real treat.
gripping
wonderful writing
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Strangers On A Train
Strangers On A Train by Patricia Highsmith (Paperback - 12 Aug. 1999)
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