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21 of 22 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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8 of 9 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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21 of 22 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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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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8 of 9 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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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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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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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Most brain taxing book I've read in a long time!!, 23 Nov 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Strangers on a Train (Hardcover)
This book provides a lot of answers and the interesting part is it has also given you a lot of questions. Recommended for future philosophers!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Very good read, 11 Jun 2014
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This review is from: Strangers On A Train (Paperback)
Another brilliant read from Patricia Highsmith. I really didn't want to put it down. She draws you deeper & deeper into the story. Excellent.
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5.0 out of 5 stars strangers on a train, 20 Feb 2014
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This review is from: Strangers On A Train (Paperback)
a really good read psychological thriller by patricia highsmith page turning glad i bought it would reccomed it to all
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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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5.0 out of 5 stars The True Story Alfred, 23 Dec 2013
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W. Russell - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Strangers On A Train (Paperback)
Hitchcock's film is undeniably terrific but so is the book, which is very different - same premise, nutter who hates his father focuses on unhappily married man he meets on a train and proposes they do each other's murder. But after that things go rather differently. Highsmith is a fine writer and this is a book to savour.
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Strangers On A Train
Strangers On A Train by Patricia Highsmith (Paperback - 12 Aug 1999)
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