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Customer reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5 stars

on 23 March 2017
Deep Water is a classic Highsmith tale of Vic, un urbane, intelligent book loving sociopath and his wife Melinda, a sexual predator who has affairs with a succession of young men under the eyes of her husband and their friends and neighbours.

This is a precise, almost clinical tale of the deconstruction of a marriage and the feelings that lurk under the outwardly calm exterior of Vic who finds the sexual cominglings of snails more absorbing than relations with his adulterous wife.

Highsmith is the mistress of claustrophobic dread. Slowly, inevitably the novel builds to its climax with a few twists along the way. Highly recommended
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on 20 June 2014
I am a recent convert to Highsmith's work having heard a discussion about her on the radio. This novel was quick and absorbing to read. Highsmith has a knack of making the reader have sympathy for the villainous Vic in this novel about infidelity in marriag and its fatal consequences for the extra marital lovers of the capricious Melinda.. It is the first of her novels I have read and has induced me to try others.Not sure why the Gove has banned American literature in English GCSE examinations. He clearly isn't as widely read as he would have us believe.
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on 27 June 2017
Very entertaining. Kept you guessing how it would end.
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on 2 March 2016
A fine old-fashioned murder, told through the eyes of a frighteningly normal psychopath. A silly wife, an innocent daughter and a psychopathic husband - marvellous. Highsmith excels at this sort of thing.
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on 31 October 2016
I loved the fact that I had no sympathy for the victims and was rooting for Vic to get away with it all. If only he could have engineered a horrible death for Don Wilson as well! The only thought I had at the end was about the future for Trixie. Hopefully she and Roger get taken in by the Petersons and live, as much as can be expected, happily ever after.
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on 8 September 2017
Rather boring, no sub plot, entirely predictable
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on 27 March 2006
If your only experience of Patricia Highsmith is the Ripley novels, and you're looking for more, you should definitely pick up this book. Deep Water was her first novel after 'The Talented Mr Ripley', and is a similar suspensful and psychological study of murder. I'm about three quarters of the way through Highsmith's books, and this is my new favourite.
The classic Highsmith ingredients are there: the finely observed, almost mundane domestic setting (which feels like a social history of 1950s US middle class life); the matter of fact, and therefore profoundly shocking way her killer switches between domestic routine, murder and back again; the stupidity/complicity of small town neighbours, and so on. The final few chapters also provide some fine moments of suspense: we know something's going to happen, we know where it's going to happen, we know who it's going to happen to, but we don't know exactly how it is going to unfold.
So get this one, and then move on to 'Cry of the Owl', 'The Blunderer' and 'Edith's Diary'.
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on 21 January 2013
It's probably not in her top books but just under. The ending pays off so well and it's very worth the ride. Incredible book and you have to read it if you're a Highsmith fan at all. Even in the ballpark. Highsmith was an entertaining misanthrope and this book shows that. She hates us all and revels in showing what weasels we can be.
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on 14 March 2006
As with her better known Ripley novels, in Deep Water (a welcome reissue from Bloomsbury in a handsome edition), Patricia Highsmith gives us a portrayal of a killer who is not entirely unsympathetic: or at least (as with Tom Ripley), it seems to the reader that the people who suffer at his hand are a lot worse than he is... Here, she sets Victor Van Allen, a small publisher with an independent income, against his vampish wife Melinda, or, as the blurb puts it:
"Melinda Van Allen is beautiful, rebellious, tempestuous and sexy. Unfortunately for wealthy socialite Vic Van Allen, she is his wife."
When one of Melinda's lovers is murdered, Van Allen seizes the opportunity to frighten off another by telling him that he, Van Allen, was the murderer. No-one believes him, but word gets around, and soon enough, Van Allen finds himself the true possessor of the title. The transition from wronged husband to killer seems to us logical, fluent and plausible, and our sympathy is, if not unequivocally with Van Allen, certainly never with the victims (though Highsmith dextrously forces this by never delving into the reactions of those left behind: the other victims of any murder). She is more interested in exploring what makes a man do these things, and in interesting us in it too, by making the books so devourably readable. "She writes about men like a spider writing about flies," said one critic, and it's a sticky, addictive web once you're in.
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on 22 November 2015
This is a truly excellent novel. There is an elegant, understated unfolding of the plot. Rather unusually, the tension increases post-murder, rather than in the lead up to the victim's demise, as you will the murderer to watch his step, and his words, in order to evade arrest. Thus, Patricia Highsmith adeptly manipulates the reader into the role of willing accomplice.

Gone Girl has been compared to this novel, but that is an unfair comparison which only benefits Gone Girl. Gone Girl is written in an overwrought style that I cannot admire and the story itself is beyond ridiculous. Deep Water is pure elegant brilliance. Patricia Highsmith is a first class writer who does not have to reach for a far-fetched plot to engage the reader and carry them along in the event of poor writing style. The simplicity of her writing elegantly delivers the authenticity of this plot, driven by real and excellently drawn characters whom we all recognise. The combination of flawlessly simple writing style and the common or garden suburban environment slowly stifling the characters within its confines, is what makes this novel so gripping, stark and disturbing,

I am only sorry that I did not discover this author's work sooner and will definitely be reading 'Strangers on a Train', next.
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