Steph's Reviews > Strangers on a Train

Strangers on a Train by Patricia Highsmith
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's review
May 25, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: mystery-and-crime, some-recommendations

I watched Strangers on a Train in college and never felt an urgent need to follow up by rehashing the suspenseful adventure in book form. I was pleased to find that the plot of the novel is very different from that of the movie adaptation. I wasn't prepared for the many surprises of the book, and reading it with the wrong expectations worked out for me very well.

Patricia Highsmith is a masterful writer, and I would recommend Strangers on a Train as much for the haunting atmosphere as I would for the intriguing narrative. There are several fantastic nightmarish passages - I love the wedding scene, for example, where the external description of the trip to the altar is all but ignored in favor of the feeling of terror underneath. Charley Bruno is a frightening villain, with just enough ordinary creepiness to make him like someone you might know. Shivers.

I dislike the ending, unfortunately. I understand and appreciate a lot of the ruminations on human nature and capacity for evildoing in this book, but the final sequence feels heavy-handed and almost unnovelistic, if that's a word.

Anyway, I enjoyed the book overall for its fascinating story and strong writing. Thankfully the events of the novel would be nearly impossible today, when all our connections to each other are so very visible on the internet.

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