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Strangers on a Train

3.86  ·  Rating Details  ·  9,105 Ratings  ·  797 Reviews
"An incredible study of psychological torture and how fine the membrane is between normality and the underlying darkness." —Tana French

The world of Patricia Highsmith has always been filled with ordinary people, all of whom are capable of very ordinary crimes. This theme was present from the beginning, when her debut novel, Strangers on a Train, galvanized the reading publ
Paperback, 281 pages
Published August 28th 2001 by W. W. Norton & Company (first published 1950)
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Jan There is a thread of the book in the movie but the book is far better. It wouldn't have been accepted as a movie in the 1950's, too dark. If you like…moreThere is a thread of the book in the movie but the book is far better. It wouldn't have been accepted as a movie in the 1950's, too dark. If you like psychological thrillers, don't miss this one.(less)
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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
Jun 21, 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
Aug 23, 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
Aug 10, 2015 Caroline rated it liked it

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
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
Jan 15, 2015 Arah-Lynda rated it it was ok
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
Jun 18, 2016 ☮Karen rated it it was amazing
Two men meet on a train ride to Texas, worlds collide, and their livesare 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 murderplot out on. Having learned that Guy is separated from his wife, and that wife is
Jul 16, 2011 Catie rated it really liked it
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
Aug 28, 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.
Mar 29, 2016 Darwin8u rated it really liked it
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 13, 2015 M.J. Johnson rated it it was amazing
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
Mar 18, 2016 Isidora rated it it was amazing
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
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 27, 2016 Leslie added it
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
Mar 16, 2016 Faith rated it really liked it
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!
Laura Leaney
Jun 06, 2015 Laura Leaney rated it really liked it
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
Jun 25, 2011 Marvin rated it really liked it
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 30, 2013 Jack rated it it was amazing
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
Feb 19, 2016 Rebecka rated it really liked it
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.
Jul 15, 2015 Franky rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery, thriller
A simple ride on a train and meeting with two strangers begins this tale. The scenario: a perfect murder. One man, Guy Haines, begins to discuss with another man, Charles Bruno, about topics as they ride to their destination. Bruno seems to have a way of sizing up Guy from the get go, and eventually he pushes the discussion to how much he hates his father and Guy, in turn, reveals too much about his own struggles with his wife. Bruno, laughing, comes up with the perfect plan, which he suggests t ...more
Dec 31, 2013 Eric_W rated it liked it
It's perhaps ironic that, having read all of the Ripley novels years ago and loved them, that I would only now get around to reading (listening, actually) to Strangers on a Train. The basic plot must, by now, be well-known to just about everyone. For the three of you who don't know the story, two men meet while having drinks on a train and discuss their respective complaints about Bruno's father and Guy's ex-wife, both of whom are making their respective lives miserable.

Bruno, hatches a one-side
La Coneja de Papel
Oct 14, 2015 La Coneja de Papel 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)
Keith Chawgo
Mar 01, 2016 Keith Chawgo rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Stranger on a Train is an interesting read which is very stuck in its time period which gives an interesting insight to the 50's. The characters are extremely refined and well mannered to a fault which tends to sometimes gets caught up in their psychosis.

Highsmith does write the flaw characters very well but she does suffer from re-trending character types and sometimes the characters have a wall between the reader and what is on the page. The lead characters though well drawn sometimes get swa
Nov 05, 2014 Marian rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites

Up and coming architect Guy Haines is traveling by train to meet his estranged wife Miriam to pursue a divorce. Miriam has given Guy nothing but heartache, nothing but trouble, and his nerves are getting the better of him. What if she refuses the divorce? He has a lot riding on this. He has a big job in the works that could finally make for him the name he's been waiting to make. He also has a wonderful supportive woman, Anne, waiting to give her his hand in marriage. He needs this divorce more
Sep 08, 2013 Brian rated it liked it

One of the few instances where the movie is better than the book.
Picture this: You are on a train. You’re minding your own business and reading Plato. You can’t really concentrate on your book because you have other thoughts occupying your mind. There are thoughts of a love lost and an enemy gained and you don’t really pay any attention to the surroundings while you’re lost in your thoughts. After a while, you notice a stranger sitting close by. He’s watching you with curiosity and it almost feels like he’s about to say something to you. But you go back to yo ...more
Oct 07, 2014 Ishita rated it liked it
Shelves: ebooks
WARNING: The review may contain certain spoilers
It's seemingly 3 stars.

The book started with two complete strangers, Guy Haines and Charles Bruno, meeting on a train where one was completely uninterested in the other while the other held a morbid fascination towards the first. The two get to talking, something strikes and suddenly they find themselves sharing some personal details that they've never shared with anyone before. This is where the "conspiracy" starts. At first you'd think Bruno is
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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.” 30 likes
“How easy it was to lie when one had to lie!” 21 likes
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