Tentatively, Convenience's Reviews > Found in the Street

Found in the Street by Patricia Highsmith
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really liked it
bookshelves: literature, mysteries, psychology

** spoiler alert ** Once again, I find myself returning to Highsmith for an engrossing tale. I particularly liked this one for its focus on things somewhat 'ephemeral' to the deaths. As always, Highsmith's psychological insights are stunning. In this, written (or, at least, published) in the last decade of her life, there's a fairly sensitive portrayal of a multitude of characters in the art world & in the world of sexual variance. Most importantly, perhaps, a character that is probably usually just a peripheral 'type' is central here: the crank who files 'well-intended' but somewhat naive & misinformed & paranoid police reports.

This particular 'crank', Ralph Linderman, starts off as sympathetic enuf by returning a lost wallet to its owner w/ a substantial amt of cash in it untouched. He informs the astonished recipient of the wallet of his philosophy of honesty & goes on to talk about his atheism. So far, so good - he's someone I can relate to. But he immediately becomes suspect to the wallet's owner, Jack Sutherland, as a bit of a nut to be avoided. Things develop from there as Linderman's revealed to be considerably more out of touch w/ 'reality' than this intro to him might imply.

What's interesting, for me, is the way Highsmith slowly develops the relations between the characters. Most of the main people manage to have what might seem to most to be difficult relations w/ a fair amt of reasonableness - except for a few fringe characters like Linderman who don't quite have what it takes to cope. Linderman's just enuf 'off' to be a 'failure' - but where he's failed, at a psychological level, isn't necessarily completely obvious.

When the 2nd of the 2 deaths happens, who's eventually caught for the crime is almost of no consequence in the overall scheme of things. What's important is the relationships of all the characters not so much to the crime but to the overall social circumstances. Highsmith, w/o making it too obvious, seems to be making a case for sensible attitudes, as personified by the Sutherlands, & for an understanding of the banal grating delusions, trials & tribulations of the 'crank' Linderman. As usual, she does it w/ a depth of development & finess that makes Highsmith worth reading over & over again & makes me happy that she wrote enuf to keep me busy for yrs to come.

Unlike most crime fiction, there's no genius detecting or great leaps of deductive reasoning by the hardboiled protagonist - & this is precisely what makes Highsmith so special. She's not a hack writer pumping out stories revolving around a likable eccentric detective that's capable of great insight & survivalism. Instead, the perpetrator, in this novel, is fairly easily caught by a combination of a character's common sense & fairly routine police work - both revolving around experience w/ human nature. SO, instead of sensational heroes we have a social milieu & various outcasts.

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Reading Progress

Started Reading
November 19, 2010 – Finished Reading
November 20, 2010 – Shelved
November 20, 2010 – Shelved as: literature
November 20, 2010 – Shelved as: mysteries
November 20, 2010 – Shelved as: psychology

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