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The Glass Cell

3.75  ·  Rating Details ·  658 Ratings  ·  58 Reviews
Rife with overtones of Dostoyevsky, The Glass Cell, first published forty years ago, combines a quintessential Highsmith mystery with a penetrating critique of the psychological devastation wrought by the prison system. Falsely convicted of fraud, the easygoing but naive Philip Carter is sentenced to six lonely, drug-ravaged years in prison. Upon his release, Carter is a m ...more
ebook, 256 pages
Published June 17th 2004 by W. W. Norton & Company (first published 1964)
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I didn't like this nearly as much as the other books I've read by Highsmith. Apparently based at least partly on truth, from letters she exchanged with a convict in 1961. Quite naturally, then this is also the story of a convict who serves six years in prison for a crime he didn't commit and then gets released and reunited with his wife and son.

The book is mainly about relationships the convict forms, both with other inmates while in prison, and with his family and friends after he gets out. Unf
I begin this post with a warning to the many devoted Goldfinch fans who evidently put the latest Tartt magnum opus on a par with the Bible. You won’t like this, not one little bit. You see, I put down The Goldfinch smack bang in the middle of it and picked up The Glass Cell, which I didn’t stop reading until I finished it. ‘OMG, How COULD you? The greatest book in the whole history of books ever and you did THAT????’ I can hear them all, as I write. Well, I did, so there.

I needed to take somethi
Andreia Silva
May 29, 2012 Andreia Silva rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: leituras-de-2012
Este livro é perfeito para ser lido quando não queremos ler algo muito profundo, quando queremos ler algo para descontrair. Peguei nele e quando dei por ela já tinha acabado, com muita pena minha. Não é uma história, mas sim vários contos policiais mas que têm um toque de diferente. Aliás, acho que os contos dariam excelentes livros de acção. São muito bem pensados e têm finais sempre imprevisíveis. Muito bom!
Maria João Fernandes
"Sem o resto do mundo para dizer a um homem quando devia comer ou dormir, quando devia trabalhar e parar de o fazer, sem todas as outras pessoas a fazer coisas para imitar, um indivíduo podia ficar louco."

Ao aproximar-me do fim dos livros da Patricia Highsmith, penso que qualquer leitor apaixonado pelo género mistério devia ter vergonha, se ainda não conhece a autora. Por outro lado, esperam-lhe grandes estranhos, maravilhosos e assustadores livros! Ninguém escreve como Patricia Highsmith e as s
Description: Philip Carter has spent six years in prison for a crime he didn't commit. On his release his beautiful wife is waiting for him. He has never had any reason to doubt her. Nor their friend, Sullivan. Carter has never been suspicious, or violent. But prison can change a man.

Opening: It was 3.35pm, Tuesday afternoon, in the State Penitentiary, and the inmates were returning from the workshops.

When Highsmith started communicating with a prisoner she was drawn into his story and this is t
M.J. Johnson
Mar 08, 2016 M.J. Johnson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As a Highsmith fan I wasn't disappointed by this book about a man who is changed both physically and mentally after spending six years in prison for a crime he didn't commit. It is very dark, psychologically disturbing and morally ambiguous. I daresay for some readers there may not be enough action in the book, but I loved the chilling way the story slowly unfolded. It's a book that stays with you and continues to resonate long after you've put it down.
Lou Robinson
Jan 31, 2016 Lou Robinson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An excellent dose of Patricia Highsmith, with plenty of suspense and violence. A book of two halves with the first based around Philip Carter's time in prison for a crime he didn't commit. The second his return to life outside back in New York. Great stuff again from Highsmith, her writing certainly has longevity, this is as relevant now as it was in the 1960s when she wrote it.
Bruce Beckham
Jun 08, 2016 Bruce Beckham rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In her treatise ‘Plotting and Writing Suspense Fiction’ Patricia Highsmith explains how simple ideas come to be the ‘germs’ of her novels.

Having now read several of her non-Ripley works, I am really beginning to appreciate her ability in this regard.

‘The Glass Cell’ is about a guy who is incarcerated – probably unluckily – for his association with fraudsters. He becomes concerned that the diligence of his lawyer in filing continual appeals is because of the access it provides to his attractive w
Jan 05, 2015 Jennyb rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked this book, although I think that, compared to contemporary standards for suspense novels, it is probably a little tame. It's like comparing a Hitchcock movie to the Bourne Ultimatum. What transpires here happens slowly, and it's subtle enough that it may bore the pants off more impatient readers. However, if you are not one of those, you will probably enjoy that Highsmith is a talented writer, if not a flashy one (She reminds me of another of her similarly overlooked contemporaries, Paul ...more
Carla Remy
Apr 20, 2014 Carla Remy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The first half of this 1964 novel is about life in prison, anxious and violent but surprisingly readable. The second half is about life after prison, developing into a classic Highsmithian tale of murder, guilt and lack of guilt.
Jul 22, 2016 J rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If it's Highsmith then you know it's going to be compelling, and The Glass Cell is no different. There is less of the pursuit aspect than in her other novels, like the Ripleyad, but what little there is is exciting and tense.
May 25, 2016 Laura rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I bought a number of the latest Virago reprints of Highsmith recently. Why? She's not my usual sort of writer, largely because read at length, the flatness of her prose gets monotonous and frustrating. However, the themes of her work, and the fact that she has nothing but contempt for the notion of a providential universe, mean that there is no 'safety net' for her characters. 'The Glass Cell' is an oddly haunting book, one I liked far more than 'The Two Faces of January' or 'Those Who Walk Away ...more
Aaron Mcquiston
Oct 21, 2015 Aaron Mcquiston rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If there were half stars, I would give "The Glass Cell" 4.5. I am still tempted to give five stars but five stars is too hard to give. As it is, this is a four and a half star book.

What makes this so good? Phillip Carter is in prison for six years. Whether he did it or not is not explained, and all prisons are filled with the innocent. The first half is Carter going through the dark years of being without his wife, without his son, and wondering if his wife is going to run off with David Sulliva
Jun 08, 2015 Lynne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Of the three recently read Highsmiths, this is the best. Engineer Philip Carter is wrongly-imprisoned and spends six years inside, slowly becoming addicted to morphine and paranoid that his wife is having an affair with lawyer David Sullivan. During his incarceration Carter becomes hardened both physically and emotionally, capable of murder. Perhaps surprisingly for a female writer, Highsmith's male characters are more rounded and credible than their female counterparts who tend to be stereotypi ...more
Mar 25, 2014 Gabi rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The first part was so heavy that I needed to get away from the book from time to time, even though the writing is superb. The second part, however, I found so fascinating that I literally couldn't put the book down. One of the best Highsmith novels I've read.
Max Tomlinson
May 27, 2014 Max Tomlinson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Move over Ripley.

If you read suspense and have not read Patricia Highsmith yet, first of all, shame on you and second, you have some weird and wonderful (and terrifying) books ahead. No one wrote like Highsmith did, and at the time she did. Her novels deliver in the classic thriller/mystery/suspense department for those of you simply looking for an edgy ride over a psychological cliff but they’re also weighty and literate and truly unique. Her characters are odd, not in the Elmore Leonard sense,
Homens que matam por amor, mulheres que os envolvem nas suas histórias para os poderem enganar... Este livro transmite, sobretudo, a visão de Patricia Highsmith em relação ao motivo que leva o homem a matar. As personagens femininas eram, em grande maioria, frias e calculistas, manipuladoras. Enganavam-os, levando-os a cometer assassínio, ou, simplesmente, ser acusado de um crime que não cometeu. Não posso dizer que gostei, talvez por não ser do tempo de Highsmith (obviamente), ou, simplesmente ...more
Daniel Gamboa
Jul 16, 2012 Daniel Gamboa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a pleasent and engaging surprise this book was. This is the 6th non-Ripley Highsmith book that I read and I am surprised it hasn't received the attention it deserves. I have never been a fan of books about life in prison, and that's why I think I enjoyed it even more.

The first half of book is about Phill Carter's life in prison. It mostly deals with his experience during his first years there, but after a while, I was a bit bored because it offered nothing I didn't know already. However, th
Jul 06, 2015 Cheryl rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I spent the whole first half of this book waiting for something to happen and the whole second half of the book wishing that what happened were more suspenseful or more interesting. From another author it might have been fine but I set such a high bar for Patricia Highsmith that I expect her to deliver more suspense, more tension, more surprise and less predictability. 2.5 stars.
Jul 20, 2015 Virna rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recientemente asistí a ver una obra de teatro basada en la historia de Extraños en un tren que escribió Highsmith y que fue llevada al cine por Hitchcock. Así qué cuando por azares del destino cayó en mis manos este librito de apenas 95 páginas y vi su portada y contraportada, no dudé en elegirlo como compañero de un corto viaje. Las historias que componen La coartada perfecta no hicieron más que acrecentar mi interés y ese escalofriante sentimiento de acompañar en sus afanes homicidas a los per ...more
Tom O'brien
Nov 15, 2014 Tom O'brien rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Originally published in 1964 (1965 in the United Kingdom), The Glass Cell is the product of a correspondence between Highsmith and a prison inmate who wrote her about enjoying Deep Water. According to her biographies, Highsmith thought her novels should not be in prisons, due to the themes around which they centre. Highsmith struggled to write and finish the novel; however it has gone on to gain modest popularity within Highsmith fan circles. It has gained extended critical attention in Fiona Pe ...more
‘Wrong was right and right was wrong, and everything was made of paper: sentences, pardons, pleas, bad records, demerits, proof of guilt, but never, it seemed, proof of innocence. If there were no paper, Carter felt, the entire judicial system would collapse and disappear.'
Dec 07, 2015 fcrazeg rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Bueno... en realidad bastante bueno. Es interesante como la autora construye el personaje y los cambios que se dan en él. Uno alcanza a sentirse de su lado, lo cual me lleva a preguntarme: hasta qué punto los escritores de libros, películas, etc. nos hacen querer a personajes amorales? hasta qué punto aceptamos acciones de éstos y cómo esta aceptación podría poner en duda nuestra moralidad?
Barbara Nutting
Aug 09, 2015 Barbara Nutting rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
She keeps you guessing right up to the last page. I like that her characters actions are plausible - not impossible escapes or scenes that could never have occurred in reality!!
Kate B
Aug 03, 2015 Kate B rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not a cheery read. Have something light-hearted to hand to read after as an antidote, but be warned - the light-hearted book will seem like utter crap in comparison.
José Antonio
No es posible juzgar a Philip Carter en términos de bien o mal. Pese a matar, es difícil pensar en él como en un asesino y, en su amoralidad, resulta mucho más coherente que las personas que le rodean. La descripción de la vida carcelaria, sin caer en los tópicos usuales, resulta realmente asfixiante, y pero también lo es el día a día después de la cárcel.
Jan 21, 2014 Hans rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is my fifteenth Highsmith book and it covers new ground. The change in setting to a prison brings a new mix of problems to her characters. In classic Highsmith storytelling, (view spoiler). Like many of the Highsmith novels, the characters and events circle around and around until they reach the breaking point.

The dedication:
To my dear cat
born in Palisades,
Sep 14, 2016 Raquel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Contos deliciosos de uma das grandes senhoras do policial, todos com o tema álibi perfeito.
Feb 16, 2015 Stuart rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Kafkaesque in its dark nightmarish portrayal of the individual fighting against the beurocratic system. Being framed for a crime he didn't commit. Showing the barbaric realities of prison looking life. Even after the tortures endured for 6yrs the anti-hero is still no longer free from his pursuers and his never ending nightmare of trouble, blame and murder! But he is certainly not whiter than white. After the hardened and drugged fulled experience of prison Carter is no longer willing to be the ...more
Clare Walker
Dec 26, 2015 Clare Walker rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love this author! One of the only decent crime writers out there.
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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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“The justice I have received, I shall give back.” 30 likes
“And everything was made of paper: sentences, pardons, pleas, bad records, demerits, proof of guilt, but never, it seemed, proof of innocence. If there were no paper, Carter felt, the entire judicial system would collapse and disappear.” 1 likes
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