Strangers on a Train

Strangers on a Train



The Pequod Review:

Patricia Highsmith (1921-1995) said in an interview, “I find the public passion for justice quite boring and artificial, for neither life nor nature cares if justice is ever done or not.” This amoral principle guided virtually all of her novels, which generally feature characters indifferent to higher principles, and who usually kill because someone gets in the way. One of her closest peers in many ways is the crime writer Jim Thompson (whose novels had a similar amorality), but Highsmith’s novels are more modern (and more European) and her prose has a more deadpan style.

Strangers on a Train, Highsmith’s first novel, features an ingenious plot, something out of James M. Cain: two men meet on a train, and discover they both want to murder women they no longer love. They strike an agreement commit the other’s murder, which will leave them both with the perfect alibi. While the characters are not as well-developed as in Highsmith's later novels, and a few plot developments strain credibility, the book is overall a very good psychological thriller. It was made into the classic 1951 Hitchcock film, one that Hitch has called his favorite.