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A Game for the Living Paperback – January 21, 1994


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 282 pages
  • Publisher: Atlantic Monthly Press (January 21, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0871132109
  • ISBN-13: 978-0871132109
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.5 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.3 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,105,922 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

Ramn mends furniture. Theodore paints. A devout Catholic, Ramn lives in Mexico City, not far from where he was born into poverty. Theodore, a rich German transplanted to a country where money buys some comfort but no peace, believes in nothing at all. You'd think the two had nothing in common. Except, of course, that both had slept with Lelia. The two were good friends, so neither minded sharing her affections. They did mind, however, when Lelia was found raped, murdered, and horribly mutilated. The two friends, suspects both, twist in a limbo of tension and doubt, each seeking his own form of solace and truth.

"Highsmith in fine form, and if there are terrors in store for readers of A Game for the Living, there are also the rich pleasures of getting to know two men whose affection for each other runs deep enough to survive the possibility that one is a killer."-Janice Harayda, The Cleveland Plain Dealer


More About the Author

Patricia Highsmith (1921-1995) was the author of more than twenty novels, including Strangers on a Train, The Price of Salt and The Talented Mr. Ripley, as well as numerous short stories.

Customer Reviews

3.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Dan Seitz on December 4, 2000
Format: Paperback
I tend to go for the harder edge of mystery and noir (Andrew Vachss, Chester Himes, etc.), but whenever I can afford it, I buy a new Highsmith novel. Why? Because she creates believeable characters and absorbing settings, and her books are more than just the mystery that's a segment (sometimes, as in this case, a small one) of the plot. Unlike the chilling "Cry Of The Owl", this novel is more about Theodore and Ramon than it is about the murder that it opens with. This isn't a wild ride, edge-of-your-seat book. Instead it lures you in by making you care about the characters. Highsmith seems almost to forget about the murder, in fact, and explores these two men, and their relationship, at some depth. The mystery is paid attention to...but the novel ends on a note that implies maybe it isn't as neat as the characters think. If you're looking for an out-and-out mystery, or a suspense thriller, "The Cry Of The Owl", an equally good book, is probably more for you. But if you like psychodrama, definitely pick up "A Game For The Living."
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Dennis Littrell HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on May 9, 2000
Format: Paperback
This is my first encounter with Patricia Highsmith, and I've very favorably impressed and looking forward to reading another of her novels immediately. Not being really conversant with the "who done it" genre, if indeed that is her genre, I can only compare her to Georges Simenon. There is the same intense concentration and a similar interest in the psychology of people at cross purposes. She does a fine job with the third-person introspection of her leading character, Theodore Schiebelhut, a well-to-do Swiss artist living in Mexico. There is an unusual feel not only to her character developments, but to the picture she paints of the upper middle class lifestyle of Mexico in the fifties with their easy privilege amid a restrained carnival atmosphere. Yet there is never a sense of unreality or of anything fake or pasted on. Highsmith doesn't reach for effects nor does she contrive. She carries the burden of veracity very well while giving "reality" an original twist that is hard to define.
Theodore, the contemplative Protestant is contrasted with Ramón, the fiery Latino Catholic, both lovers of the same woman who is found murdered as the novel begins. I was able to guess who did it fairly early on, although I am not sure why. Highsmith produces some red herrings en route to a neatly packaged conclusion, but plays fair at all times. Note worthy is the easy-going, yet savvy police inspector Sauzas. The tension between the sin-filled Catholic Ramón, and the nearly agnostic Theodore is nicely developed and maintained. The feel of the Mexican hotels and the easy Mexican lifestyle is vividly rendered while the contrast between the well-to-do and the poor is presented in a straightforward manner. Highsmith's plot is well thought out and dove tails nicely with the resolution of the psychology of her characters. It's a little slow-going in the middle but finishes well without any artificiality.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Joseph W. Smith III on August 17, 2000
Format: Paperback
Yep -- it's another fine piece of work from Patricia Highsmith, who was, I'm becoming increasingly convinced, one of the 20th century's most accomplished and important writers. I wonder how long it will take folks to figure this out (and to start putting many of her long-lost books back in print) -- esp. since she is cleverly disguised as a suspense/thriller writer (and she is a darned good one); but she's equally interested in exploring the complexities of modern life, with its alienation, widespread atheism, and deliberate cruelty. "A Game for the Living" is something of a whodunit, but also a beautifully realized tour of Mexico at mid-century, plus a flawless character study of two men who are polar opposites, one of whom commits himself to friendship with the other, despite the distinct possibility that the other man murdered the girl they both loved. It's a deeply moving portrait of friendship, and another great read from Miss Highsmith's collection.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By S. J. Osburn VINE VOICE on September 26, 2000
Format: Paperback
I devoured all Patricia Highsmith's "Ripley" books with the appetite of an ice-cream addict, but haven't found some of her others to be as satisfying. Highsmith seems to have certain themes that carry through most of her work: rich expatriates enjoying high living, artists and the art community, and wary, suspicious friendships between men. All these elements are found in A Game For the Living, which is set in Mexico. There's a gruesome murder (of course) and a lot of searching, mysterious clues, false leads, etc. Still, the book seemed in part to be a mere Mexican travelogue, as though Highsmith had made a trip to Mexico City and Acapulco and then put plenty of street names into her book just to prove she'd been there. Especially near the end of the book, the exact descriptions of the two main characters' moves in Acapulco are just too thorough and boring to make literary sense. At times you may wonder why the characters are putting themselves in so much danger, with the blessing of the police - it's unrealistic. Still, if you enjoy being taken into the fearsome, yet fascinating world of Highsmith's imagination, you'll get there through this book. It's just that you'll spend part of your trip on a dull tour bus.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Dennis Littrell HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on May 1, 2000
Format: Paperback
This is my first encounter with Patricia Highsmith, and I've very favorably impressed and looking forward to reading another of her novels immediately. Not being really conversant with the "who done it" genre, if indeed that is her genre, I can only compare her to Georges Simenon. There is the same intense concentration and a similar interest in the psychology of people at cross purposes. She does a fine job with the third-person introspection of her leading character, Theodore Schiebelhut, a well-to-do Swiss artist living in Mexico. There is an unusual feel not only to her character developments, but to the picture she paints of the upper middle class lifestyle of Mexico in the fifties with their easy privilege amid a restrained carnival atmosphere. Yet there is never a sense of unreality or of anything fake or pasted on. Highsmith doesn't reach for effects nor does she contrive. She carries the burden of veracity very well while giving "reality" an original twist that is hard to define.
Theodore, the contemplative Protestant is contrasted with Ramón, the fiery Latino Catholic, both lovers of the same woman who is found murdered as the novel begins. I was able to guess who did it fairly early on, although I am not sure why. Highsmith produces some red herrings en route to a neatly packaged conclusion, but plays fair at all times Note worthy is the easy-going, yet savvy police inspector Sauzas. The tension between the sin-filled Catholic Ramón, and the nearly agnostic Theodore is nicely developed and maintained. The feel of the Mexican hotels and the easy Mexican lifestyle is vividly rendered while the contrast between the well-to-do and the poor is presented in a straightforward manner. Highsmith's plot is well thought out and dove tails nicely with the resolution of the psychology of her characters. It's a little slow-going in the middle but finishes well without any artificiality.
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