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Strangers on a Train

3.83  ·  Rating Details ·  11,005 Ratings  ·  1,010 Reviews
In Patricia Highsmith's debut novel, we encounter Guy Haines and Charles Anthony Bruno, passengers on the same train. But while Guy is a successful architect in the midst of a divorce, Bruno turns out to be a sadistic psychopath who manipulates Guy into swapping murders with him. As Bruno carries out his twisted plan, Guy is trapped in Highsmith's perilous world - where, u ...more
Paperback, 59 pages
Published 1999 by Penguin Books (first published 1950)
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Andrea Orlick After reading Patricia Highsmith's first novel Strangers On a Train, Alfred Hitchcock realized what a gem he'd come upon. He immediately sent his…moreAfter reading Patricia Highsmith's first novel Strangers On a Train, Alfred Hitchcock realized what a gem he'd come upon. He immediately sent his agents to purchase the film rights from Highsmith, which she agreed to for a paltry $7,500. Unbeknownst to her however was that it was the great director and master of suspense making the offer. Hitchcock was thrilled; Highsmith, not so much.
Also noteworthy, Raymond Chandler co-authored the screenplay.(less)

Community Reviews

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When I was in my 20s- living in Toronto and traveling on the train to visit my parents 4 hours away- I always thought there was nothing worse than trying to read my book while having some annoying fellow passenger try to start a conversation...but then I watched Alfred Hitchcock's STRANGERS ON A TRAIN and realized- Nope it could have been worse.

I usually have a hard time reading the book once I have watched the movie, but Patricia Highsmith's novel is very different than Hitchcock's adaptation
Chilling...... Classic psychological thriller!

Strangers on a Train is Patricia Highsmith's first novel published in 1950. It is incredibly creepy and twisted with the premise being that two strangers meet on a train. Each of these men have a person that they would like out of the way. One of the men is a psychopath and establishes a plan that each of them kill the other's nemesis. It would be the perfect murder with no motive - hence, no way of tracing the murderer. The man who is not a psychopa
Kelly (and the Book Boar)
Find all of my reviews at:

In order to prove that NO, I DON’T ONLY READ PORNOS THANK YOU VERY LITTLE I begged Steve to pull me out of my downward spiral and buddy read this one with me. When my husband asked his nightly question “what are you reading????” I was so very proud to say a classic rather than smut. I also jumped at the chance to say it was a book written by the author of The Talented Mr. Ripley and that this novel became one of my favorite Hitchcock f
Jun 06, 2016 Eve rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2016
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“My mistake was telling a stranger my private business.” — Guy Haines

This is my first Highsmith book, which is a shame because I have seen most movie adaptations of her novels. Throw Mama from the Train is one of my all-time favorite movies, and now I’ve finally read the book that the movie is loosely based on.

The book itself is far from comedic. Written in 1950, this gritty noir novel is mostly set in New York. Guy Haines, an up and coming architect, meets Charlie Bruno on a train bound for hi
Dan Schwent
When Guy Haines and Charles Anthony Bruno meet on a train, they discover they have one thing in common: each of them has someone they would be better off without. When Haines' estranged wife winds up strangled, he finds himself caught in Bruno's psychotic, alcoholic web...

Yeah, that makes the book sound really gripping. It wasn't. The Hitchcock film Strangers on a Train is legendary so I thought I'd give the book that inspired it a shot. I would have been better off watching Throw Mama From the
Nov 26, 2016 ❀Julie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook, 2016
3.5 stars. After reading The Talented Mr. Ripley, I confess I really did want to like this book more. But, given this was her debut novel it's pretty darn good and does make one think: Could a manipulative psychopath really drive one to this kind of evil by the arousal of fear?? A seemingly normal “Guy” and psychopath Bruno are strangers on a train whose secrets revealed lead to Bruno suggesting they create the “perfect murder". Guy doesn’t take him seriously, just wants to be rid of him, and is ...more
Aug 09, 2015 Algernon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015

Any kind of person can murder. Purely circumstances and not a thing to do with temperament! People get so far - and it gets just the least little thing to push them over the brink. Anybody. Even your grandmother. I know!

A disturbing proposition that I happen to strongly disagree with, but I can't think of a more able writer to raise doubts in my mind and to argue the merits of the case. According to her biographical notes, Patricia Highsmith started her study of perverted human nature at
Since I haven't seen this movie, I wasn't aware that this book was the inspiration for Alfred Hitchcock's classic 1951 film with the same title until after I finished reading this book. Published in 1950, this book is remarkable in the sense that it has a modern, contemporary tone.

Guy Haines, the architect, and Charles Anthony Bruno, the wealthy shiftless wanderer, meet on the train and share personal details.

From the blurb:
Guy is a successful architect in the midst of a divorce, Bruno turns ou
Nancy Oakes
"And Bruno, he and Bruno. Each was what the other had not chosen to be, the cast-off self, what he thought he hated, but perhaps in reality loved."

Strangers on a Train is another case where most people have seen the movie but haven't read the book or didn't know there was a novel behind it. In this case, if you've seen the movie, and then go to read Highsmith's book, you end up with two different entities. The basic plot is the same -- two men, total strangers, meet on a train; one (Bruno) is a

Nightmare on a train. The premise is simple enough. Two men meet on a train, and a weird discussion about swapping murders ensues. Patricia Highsmith’s intriguing but imperfect tale is definitely a chilling portrait of obsessive psychopathy. It also asks an unsettling question: Do we all have a dark side?

Strangers on a Train is short and mostly to the point, though it could have been shorter, perhaps even a novella. Told in third person omniscient point of view, Stranger
Oct 25, 2011 Arah-Lynda rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011, i-said
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. Two strangers meet on the train and discuss among other things, people in their lives: a Wife, a Father, who they would be better off without. One of these strangers, Charles Bruno, is an extremely well imagined sociopath, while the other, Guy, is a mild mannered architect whose role in this story I never entirely accept. (view spoiler) ...more
Nandakishore Varma
Warning: Mild spoilers ahead.

As I have said earlier, it is a dicey affair to one-star a classic on GR. Some people may see it as blasphemy: and maybe, one can expect a lynch mob. But what to do? I did not like this book: could not bring myself to finish it even; so one-star is the only option.

My only acquaintance with Patricia Highsmith before this novel was The Terrapin, a terrifying short story. So I was pretty sure I would like this novel, even though the story was familiar to me from Hitchco
Maria (Big City Bookworm)

3.5 stars

Strangers on a Train is one of those novels that I constantly kept hearing about. I knew it was an older novel and that it is considered a classic thriller, but that was about the extent of my knowledge. It’s no secret that I love a good psychological thriller, but I’ve only read recent books from within this genre so I decided to broaden my range.

Strangers on a Train tells the story of Charles Anthony Bruno and Guy Haines, two men that meet while they are on the same train. As the men
Why is it so much easier to unburden yourself to a stranger? Is it that awareness of anonymity? Is it the knowledge that this person has no history, no preconceived notions upon which you might be judged? Whatever the underlying reason, I’ve always found this to be true. I’m pretty sure that the entire realm of internet communication is so prevalent in part because of this truth. In this unforgettable work, Patricia Highsmith examines the sinister outcome of a chance meeting, and a momentary int ...more
Two men meet  on a train ride to Texas, worlds collide, and their lives  are changed forever. 

Charles Bruno is a spoiled rich kid grown up now into a wealthy young man wanting more. The only path he can see to "more" is for his father to die. Bruno has never had a job and feels such a thing is not necessary for him.  He is a lazy, slovenly lush. Despicable.  Insane. And then some.

Guy is the poor sap Bruno lays his murder  plot out on. Having learned that Guy is separated  from his wife, and tha
Aug 10, 2015 Melki rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime-fiction
A genius idea drowned in a soup of too many uninteresting characters. Most of the book could have been edited down to one taut, terrific short story.
Apr 01, 2014 Darwin8u rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014
“People, feelings, everything! Double! Two people in each person. There's also a person exactly the opposite of you, like the unseen part of you, somewhere in the world, and he waits in ambush.”
― Patricia Highsmith, Strangers on a Train


I put off watching the great Hitchcock's take on this Highsmith classic until I actually read it. The books has a neat narrative symmetry and logic to it. It contains a lot of the early hints of some of her later, great Ripley novels: obsessiveness, insanity, met
M.J. Johnson
Mar 01, 2015 M.J. Johnson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favourites
What an astounding first novel! This book is sixty-five years old but remains to this day a considerably shocking edge of the seat read. And I don’t mean that it contains graphic violence or gripping action sequences - not at all. This book is a psychological novel that gets deep under the skin of its two main characters. We plough straight into the story from page one; we’re suddenly there, in the train compartment where our strangers meet. Believe me, what ensues is increasingly tense and quit ...more
2 bored stars.

Buddy read with Kelly (and the Book Boar).

This is the source material for the classic 1952 thriller of the same name in which director Alfred Hitchcock and script-writer Raymond Chandler greatly improved upon Patricia Highsmith’s first novel. I’m not sure what I was expecting, perhaps a lot more suspense and a lot more thrills, but not the back-and-forth banter, the dragging on and on and on with the exceedingly weird, almost perverse, relationship between Guy and Bruno. This was l
Now, you see, if you ask me to write a review on this book, I'm going to write it in relative to Hitchcock's infamous Strangers On A Train.
(Brain: No one's askin' you, Pri!
Me: ...
Me: Shut up, Brain!)

Leave it to Hitchcock to find such little gems, especially in their obscurity, while others deemed it to be "just a silly story". (Raymond Chandler's words, not mine!)

Now, why am I talking about Hitchcock? It's because of him that I found this perfect embodiment of- what is popularly known as- psycho
Apr 20, 2015 Isidora rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: svenska, e-books
It is one of those books where the writer brings the reader inside of the characters’ minds very quickly. The picture there is not a pleasant one. The two strangers who accidentally meet on a train one night, Charles Bruno and Guy Haines (I believe the plot is well- known, if not from the novel, then from the Hitchcock’s film), are both conflicted personalities, although it seems from the start that it is only Bruno who is a disturbed man. As the story progresses, it becomes more obvious that Gu ...more
This was another fun airport read because it is all about the perils of oversharing with strangers on public transportation. This is like literary B.O. for travelers, I'm sure. If only I had a Team Bruno shirt to don (and sully with literary b.o. pit stains!) in the air.

This book explores a nightmarish scenario: you wind up sitting next to a creep who'll ply you with scotch, force you into the confession zone and try to seduce you into a murder pact (e.g., you bump off my father and I'll make wo
Feb 03, 2016 Faith rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio
I've liked other Highsmith books more than I liked this one, but I still thought this book was good, although some parts of it definitely could have been shortened. I listened to the audiobook and that may be why my chief impression of Bruno is that he was a whiny, self-pitying drunk. Maybe the narrator did too good a job. Bruno was nothing like the charismatic sociopath that Highsmith created in her Ripley series. I saw the movie based on this book eons ago and all I remember is that both actor ...more
I loved this sinister tale!
Jun 24, 2011 Marvin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was surprised to find out how different the original novel is from the excellent Hitchcock film. Hitchcock went for suspense and thrills which necessitated substantial changes to the original story. In Highsmith's equally excellent novel, Bruno remains the quintessential rich spoiled psychopath yet Guy is a much more complex character. He is still naive but more intelligent (he is an architect in the novel and not a tennis bum). He is also not as morally strict and this is where the tension ar ...more
Oct 25, 2013 Jack rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
I can't say enough good things about this book. This isn't a thriller in the whodunit sense. You know right away who the killer is. Still, Highsmith keeps elevating the tension throughout the book, which studies the effects of guilt and ego upon the commission of the perfect crime. The characters are interesting, and the book's quick pace keeps you reading to the end. Anyone who has read Crime and Punishment will see a lot of Dostoevsky's influence here, and Strangers on a Train holds up very we ...more
This is one of those books that lingers. You finish it and you realize that what might have seemed like a simple whodunnit on the surface really had quite a bit more to say than you anticipated. Don't get me wrong Patricia Highsmith turned out quite the classic thriller with this book, Alfred Hitchcock clearly thought so anyway. But there was so very much more here.

Two men meet on a train. Total strangers who slowly realize they're each caught in similar no win situations. One is the Ne'er–do–we
Laura Leaney
Mar 14, 2015 Laura Leaney rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I sometimes think there's something wrong with me. All these brilliant reviews of Highsmith's book, and when I reached the last page I felt somehow dissatisfied with it. I liked the thing well enough, but Dostoyevsky does psychological guilt better. So does Hawthorne. The characters here, Bruno and Guy, are not wholly believable to me (although Bruno is more so). Guy is supposedly a brilliant architect - and he's got a fine enough mind to attract the well-educated classy Anne (a very flat, unint ...more
Aug 07, 2015 Rebecka rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Brilliantly unpleasant in so many ways. When I bought this, I thought this was a newly released book, mixing it up with The Girl on the Train, but I'm glad it was this one and no other!

I couldn't quite make up my mind when it came to who to root for during a big part of this book, and I really liked that.
La Coneja
Sep 24, 2015 La Coneja rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: para-clase
De entre todos los libros que te mandan leer en la carrera, de vez en cuando, hay alguno que da en el clavo. Muy de vez en cuando y no siempre desde el principio. Esto es lo que me ha pasado con Strangers on a Train. (No empecéis viendo la película, porque lo de hacer adaptaciones libres, por llamarlo de alguna manera, se lleva desde siempre, no es de ahora.)

(view spoiler)
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Patricia Highsmith was an American novelist who is known mainly for her psychological crime thrillers which have led to more than two dozen film adaptations over the years.

She lived with her grandmother, mother and later step-father (her mother divorced her natural father six months before 'Patsy' was born and married Stanley Highsmith) in Fort Worth before moving with her parents to New York in
More about Patricia Highsmith...

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“I know you have it in you, Guy," Anne said suddenly at the end of a silence, "the capacity to be terribly happy.” 33 likes
“The night was a time for bestial affinities, for drawing closer to oneself.” 23 likes
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