Guy Haines is a young, talented architect on the brink of stardom. Before embarking on the project that will make his reputation he travels to Texas to ask his wife for a divorce. On the train meets a stranger and soon becomes embroiled in a nightmare tangle of deceit and murder that he finds impossible to extricate himself from.
American novelist Patricia Highsmith wrote twenty two novels, most of which were psychological thrillers. She is best known for the Tom Ripley books, including her 1955 novel The Talented Mr Ripley which was adapted into a visual feast of a film starring Matt Damon, Jude Law and Gwyneth Paltrow in 1999. Published in 1950, Strangers on a Train was the first of Highsmith’s novels and was adapted into a film by Alfred Hitchcock in 1951.
Patricia Highsmith was a master of the psychological thriller genre. The plot of Strangers on a Train is clever and deceptively simple and although the story is rather grim and depressing, it is also addictive and believable.
I found it hard not to sympathise with Guy as his predicament leads him down into a spiral of depression and hopelessness that threatens his promising career and his relationship with Anne. As he gets dragged further and further into Charles Bruno’s orbit, the only way to extricate himself seems to be murder. But will this give Guy the peace that he is looking for?
The book is a little slow in places but this does add to the menace and tension. I spent the whole book wondering whether he’d get away with it and Highsmith kept us guessing until the very last page.
Have you read the book? What did you think? Do leave a comment below…
How to join the book club
The Bleak House Book Club is free and is open to everyone. We discuss the book here on my blog so that anyone can join in, no matter where you live. Each month we read a book by a woman writer, pre-2000.
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The next book…
The next book is I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith, for discussion at the beginning of September. I hope you join us in reading and discussing it.