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A Dog's Ransom

3.55 of 5 stars 3.55  ·  rating details  ·  277 ratings  ·  44 reviews
Long out of print, this Highsmith classic resurfaces with a vengeance. The great revival of interest in Patricia Highsmith continues with the publication of this novel that will give dog owners nightmares for years to come. With an eerie simplicity of style, Highsmith turns our next-door neighbors into sadistic psychopaths, lying in wait among white picket fences and manic...more
Paperback, 256 pages
Published August 17th 2002 by W. W. Norton & Company (first published 1972)
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Community Reviews

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Maria João Fernandes
Mais uma vez Patricia Highsmith faz um retrato arrepiante de um pequeno grupo de sociopatas, cujos caminhos se cruzam para originar confusão e destruição. Á medida que o pior de cada um deles é despertado, o seu comportamento amoral tem consequências devastadoras na vida dos cidadãos chamados "comuns".

Estamos em Nova Iorque, onde o crime, a ganância, a violência e tudo o que há de mais obscuro neste mundo adquirem contornos mais definidos.

Um casal perde a sua cadela, Lisa e reporta o acontecime...more
This is a very disturbing story - surprise surprise - that is what you get when you enter the world of Patricia Highsmith. This is a story of a psycho who dognaps (is that the correct term?) a pet dog and gets a ransom for his deed. He killed the dog right away - and a nice policeman goes after the dog-killer. Which leads to that cops downfall.

What's interesting is Highsmith's well-known love for the animal kingdom and how she plays with that angle with respect to the policeman's eventually (ev...more
Oct 24, 2010 Lobstergirl rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Brett Favre
This tale of a pathetic loner who kills the poodle of an upper middle class Manhattan couple, sends ransom notes and money demands, and is pursued by an idealistic, Cornell-educated rookie cop, left me feeling skeeved, as much by its datedness (the cop's temporary-secretary, cop-hating girlfriend constantly referring to police as "fuzz") as by the story and unsavory characters.
Patricia Highsmith is the master of stories where ordinary people starts piling up small mistakes one on top of another, until they are completely drowned by the events. In "A Dog's Ransom", the initial sin of a young police officer is to take care of a case that everyone else would have paid no attention to at all. He gets involved too much, up to the point where his private life is affected, and from then it gets completely disrupted. This element can be found also in the the plot of "Stranger...more
Dana Jennings
Published in 1972, A Dog's Ransom was heralded by the press at the time:

"Highsmith edges her readers toward the insane territory inhabited by . . . readers are sure to be left feeling by turns startle, oppressed, amused and quest." New York Times Book Review
"No one has created psychological suspense more densely and deliciously satisfying." Vogue

The theft of Reynolds' dog is the instigating incident that precipitated the collision of the lead characters and placed them in their moral quandary. T...more
Sep 27, 2007 Cynthia rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: people who like short stories
this story started off well but by midpoint it really started to ramble. the ending was disappointing; as the pages slipped away I kept thinking "How is she going to end this??" The author apparently was thinking the same thing; she just kind of cut it off abruptly with a final event that was about as satisfying as "and then I woke up and realized it was all a dream."
About a year ago, I discovered the "Most Read Authors" feature on GoodReads. I discovered two things that bothered me: 1) James Patterson was in my top 10 most read authors & 2) the first female author appeared in the 25th spot (J.K. Rowling and only because there were 7 Harry Potter books). This book marks the important shift that there is now a female author in the top 10 (Patricia Highsmith) and Mr. Patterson moves out of the top 10. Who needs professional sports when I can deal with my o...more
Cindy Huffman
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
This book was especially interesting given the recent Gov. Spitzer scandal. The main character, Clarence, is a goody goody newby cop who gets pushed into being bad and then finding himself in the hands of his colleagues. All of this because of a kidnapped dog. This is supposed to be a social satire but, I think it falls a little short really. It is odd that the cop, Clarence, is so moved by the plight of a middle-aged couple whose dog has been kidnapped when there are rapes and larcenies that ne...more
So much disappointment from this book.
*warning: contains spoilers*

The book is basically a dog being kidnapped. The kidnapper Kenneth asks for ransom twice, although he has actually killed the dog the moment he got his hands on him.

The reasons I bothered reading this book:
1) Highsmith has written 2 other mystery novels that I loved (strangers on a train, talented mr ripley)
2) the book started off really good.

The kidnapper was revealed at the very beginning, which I found very interesting, becau...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
I keep fearing that Patricia Highsmith's going to fall of the pedestal I put her on, but it hasn't happened yet. To the contrary, this again turned out to be one of the best of hers that I've read. Which also means one of the best books I've ever read in general, because I really agree with the blurb by one Auberon Waugh from Harpers & Queen: "One thinks of comparing Miss Highsmith only with herself; by any other standard of comparison, one must simply cheer."

There are a couple of scenes tha...more
I like all things by Highsmith, even when I want to pull one of her average books off my shelf like this one.
Sharon Speevak
Ultimately, this was a novel about obsession. However, it seemed to take a long time making up its mind about what it wanted to be when it grew up and I was frankly annoyed at the stark, dry writing style. Had the story been as tight as the manner in which it was written, it may have been well served by such a style. As it was, it just made the ride to the bleak end all the more unpleasant. I also found the characters only marginally believable. I had trouble buying into their responses to event...more
It kills me to write this.

If A Dog's Ransom had been written by some two-bit writer ... If I'd merely picked up the book at a flea market without expectations instead of seeking it out ... If I hadn't read and loved the works of Patricia Highsmith in the past ... well, maybe I'd rate the book a tad higher.

But it was disappointing. Dull. Redundant. The ending left me feeling nothing.

I still adore Ms. Highsmith and will seek out another of her works I've yet to read. Or perhaps I'll return to the...more
Henry Paulus
why-Highsmith's definitive novel. also it brings out a dimension of what Zizek calls subjectivization of non-subjectivized object. This is done via rending palpable the vanishing mediator stage of story telling that lies in the middle of a simple story of terrorized regular folks vs total immersion into psychological pathological immersion into criminal psychotic mind: the novel portrays both and thus brings out this uncanny dimension that both of the previous kinds of blah and overdone and conv...more
Bri Ana
Certainly not my favorite Highsmith, but Highsmith being a favorite sets the bar high. It's a quick read thanks to her minimal prose and fast paced plos... As I read it, I couldn't help but see it as an darkly twisted alternate universe take on "Confederacy of Dunces", not for specific parallels but rather the odd cast of characters who manage to be both stereotypical and idiosyncratic in the same breath.
Unpleasant parable about how hot-button crimes like narcotics and prostitution get immediate action from law enforcement, while other crimes like extortion and animal abuse get lesser attention. I don't know if this topic is worthy of a full-length novel, especially when the main protagonist is such an inept policeman he makes Inspector Clouseau look like a Captain of Industry.
???? I haven't been so disappointed in an ending since I read Lovely Bones. I really like Highsmith and recommend her other novels and short stories. But it seems like she gave up on her story and ended it very abruptly. I would have given it a much higher rating because I enjoyed the plot and her characters, but the lack of a credible ending weakens the book.
A little trouble at the outset with seemingly shallow characters reacting foolishly to an obvious situation. But worth getting past that to find an engaging psychological thriller with well-drawn and flawed characters. It's set in a New York with which Barnard-educated Highsmith seems familiar, but for the many odd Britishism that appear throughout.
Quintessential Highsmith, where seemingly small decisions by the characters (here, the decision by a young cop to give extra attention to a dognapping case) lead in a downward spiral to...I won't give it away. As always, Highsmith does a great job with internal narration and the everyday details of her characters' lives.
As always, Patricia Highsmith, a master of psychological suspense, offers unexpected and disturbing twists and turns. If this novel, set in New York City during the late 1960s, isn't quite up to the level of her masterpieces Strangers on a Train and The Talented Mr. Ripley, it's still a page-turner.
I learned that just because I liked one Patricia Highsmith book, I may not like another. Nothing much happens here except a couple's dog is kidnapped at the outset of the novel. I abandoned it after about 100 pages.

Go pick up The Talented Mr. Ripley by Highsmith instead. You won't be disappointed!
Jason McNamara
Highsmith always writes great characters but doesn't always know what to do with them (The Boy Who Followed Ripley for example) and this is another one. Once the murder occurs half way through the book the plot begins to recycle scenes and spin its wheels until its abrupt and unsatisfying conclusion. Avoid.
Tom Lichtenberg
Like many of Highsmith's books, there is a point, somewhere in the middle, where you have to put the book down, take a deep breath and say, "". This is probably my favorite of all her books because of the unpredictable trajectory of the characters' development.
Feb 09, 2012 Admiral rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Admiral by: My dad
My father passed me this, saying it was surprisingly good. We are talking about 30 years ago and I half turned my nose up at it. 20 hours later, thoroughly gobsmacked. Terrific read. Can remember naff all of the plot, but I can recall how much I enjoyed it.
You stand helpless watching a car driving over an embankment into a rocky canyon...yeah, like that.

oh, and did I mention your grandma is driving?

With a puppy she just bought you?

the Highsmith genius perception at work again.
Peggy Jeffcoat
I thought I would like this book more than I did. I loved the movie based on her book, The Talented Mr. Ripley, however, this one wasn't up to my expectations. The ending was a disappointment.
Dog’s Ransom starts of slowly, then about 1/3 of the way through becomes a suspenseful no-good-deed-goes-unpunished page-turner. Suspenseful but still somewhat unsatisfying & a little depressing.
Couldn't put it down. Highsmith's characters are existential and was left wondering at the end. Had recently finished Camus' Exile and Kingdom, which made for a very interesting companion read.
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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
More about Patricia Highsmith...
The Talented Mr. Ripley (Ripley, #1) Strangers on a Train The Price of Salt Ripley's Game (Ripley, #3) Ripley Under Ground (Ripley, #2)

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