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Strangers on a Train
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Archive - Group Reads > Strangers on a Train by Patricia Highsmith - February 2020

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message 1: by Jenny (last edited Jan 21, 2020 10:57PM) (new)

Jenny (diggensjenny) Hello fellow Crime, Mystery & Thriller readers! This discussion is about Strangers on a Train by Patricia Highsmith, your discussion leader is Christina
about spoilers

Please note: If you have not finished reading the book spoilers are permitted in this discussion from the start.
Strangers on a Train by Patricia Highsmith Strangers on a Train by Patricia Highsmith Strangers on a Train by Patricia Highsmith Strangers on a Train by Patricia Highsmith


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 public. Here we encounter Guy Haines and Charles Anthony Bruno, passengers on the same train. But while Guy is a successful architect in the midst of a divorce, Bruno turns out to be a sadistic psychopath who manipulates Guy into swapping murders with him. “Some people are better off dead,” Bruno remarks, “like your wife and my father, for instance.” As Bruno carries out his twisted plan, Guy is trapped in Highsmith’s perilous world, where, under the right circumstances, anybody is capable of murder.

The inspiration for Alfred Hitchcock’s classic 1951 film, Strangers on a Train launched Highsmith on a prolific career of noir fiction, proving her a master at depicting the unsettling forces that tremble beneath the surface of everyday contemporary life.

Beth  (techeditor) | 1005 comments Although STRANGERS ON A TRAIN is said to be a classic among thrillers, I was disappointed.

I hated reading all the thoughts that went on and on and on with endless repetition. They were so monotonous and difficult to read that I found myself skipping paragraphs.

I'm also not a fan of this book because everyone but one detective is stupid. The man being stalked, especially, makes one stupid decision after the other. And then, in spite of the stupidity of everyone in the book, the one exception I make, a detective, miraculously understands what happened with the two strangers on a train. Yet nowhere are we told how he figures it out other than his prior understanding of the stalker.

Martha (marthas48) | 17 comments I'll try to read this in February … I've had a copy for a few months. I love noir usually & love the movie.

Bruce | 1949 comments I read it several years ago and really enjoyed it. I WAS thrown off, having seen the movie first, but I liked the book on its own. I think the movie was more a conventional mystery or noir, whereas the book was more literary and deep. I probably did like the movie better, while the book can be a slow read.

Barbara K | 325 comments Highsmith's brilliant depiction of Guy Haines' gradual mental disintegration as he is unable to extract himself from Bruno's demented manipulations is, to me, the essence of this book. I think that most of us can be confident that we would not intentionally murder someone, but what would happen if we were in the clutches of someone like Bruno? Would we turn him in at the risk of losing everything we'd work for in life?

There are many action-focused books featuring individuals who are put in compromising situations when something in their lives (typically their family) is threatened. The focus of Strangers on a Train is less on action and more on Haines' inner life. That's probably why it was less successful as a movie than a book.

Abhinaya (abhi_danviji) | 3 comments Something I can’t understand. If Bruno said he was smart enough to plan a murder without evidence why did he constantly call text or get in touch with Guy? Also I couldn’t understand why couldn’t Guy go and inform police about what Bruno did without his acceptance. It was not surely his fault and his girlfriend would have understood it for sure. Doing a murder for a guilt which he shouldn’t carry is something I am pondering on now.

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