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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars one of the best by Highsmith
If you are already a Patricia Highsmith fan, I would highly recommend this book next.
While the book starts out somewhat slowly, I think this pacing helps set the overall mood of the book and allows the reader to settle into a Highsmith "high" in anticipation of another skillfully written book. At any rate, by chapter two, everything starts to wind/unwind...
Published on January 1, 2002 by Ann Ueda

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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars It Cries Out for a Good Movie Director
"The Two Faces of January" a psychological thriller by Patricia Highsmith, American author who was expert in that genre -- "Strangers On A Train,""The Talented Mr. Ripley --" was published in 1964. It's set largely in Greece, particularly Athens, also Crete, and does an excellent job of giving the reader the look and flavor of that country. It also drops into Paris, and...
Published on September 24, 2007 by Stephanie De Pue


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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars one of the best by Highsmith, January 1, 2002
This review is from: The Two Faces of January (Highsmith, Patricia) (Paperback)
If you are already a Patricia Highsmith fan, I would highly recommend this book next.
While the book starts out somewhat slowly, I think this pacing helps set the overall mood of the book and allows the reader to settle into a Highsmith "high" in anticipation of another skillfully written book. At any rate, by chapter two, everything starts to wind/unwind as the book settles into typical Highsmith high-gear which, if you're like me, will soon leave you physicially and mentally breathless in an attempt to keep up!
The foreign setting of the book is also a delight, and the reader quickly becomes a part of the story, shadowing the 3 main characters in and out of the various cities, hotels, towns, and nefarious deeds that happen. There is also this undercurrent of very fine wit and humor throughout the book.
The ending is, of course, the best part. It's been many, many years since I was last compelled to rush to the last page, as I neared the end of the book, to find out what happened. The ending is also prime Highsmith and a bit of a surprise--not, perhaps, for the characters in the book or the storyline, but certainly for Highsmith during this particular period of her writing.
A great holiday/vacation read for anyone with a few days of peace to settle into the book--and to savor it from start to finish!
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars It Cries Out for a Good Movie Director, September 24, 2007
By 
Stephanie De Pue (Wilmington, NC USA) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: The Two Faces of January (Highsmith, Patricia) (Paperback)
"The Two Faces of January" a psychological thriller by Patricia Highsmith, American author who was expert in that genre -- "Strangers On A Train,""The Talented Mr. Ripley --" was published in 1964. It's set largely in Greece, particularly Athens, also Crete, and does an excellent job of giving the reader the look and flavor of that country. It also drops into Paris, and gives the reader a good picture of that city at that time. In fact, as it is set among people we might once have known, who drink and smoke heavily without even thinking about it, it gives the reader a surprisingly accurate picture of its early 1960's era.

The plot concerns one Rydal Keener, young American hanging around Europe, collecting his mail at American Express, hoping something memorable will happen before his money runs out. He trips over it in a top Athens hotel, the King's Palace, where a rich, crooked American businessman, Chester MacFarland, has accidentally killed a Greek policeman come to call on him. Rydal, a graduate of Yale Law School, had issues with his recently-deceased father, a stuffy Harvard professor, and McFarland somehow reminds the young man of his father, whose funeral he had refused to attend, gone bad. The young man gets involved with the older one, and his pretty young wife Colette, helping them to hide the body, get new fake passports, and flee Athens. Rydal never entirely understands why he has chosen to get involved with Chester, though the author makes that pretty clear to us. However, the author leaves us on our own when it comes to figuring out Chester's relationship with Rydal.

"Two Faces" will be a bit dated and dusty for most readers. It really cries out for a good contemporary movie director to blow off the cobwebs and capture the clever plot at its heart.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An absorbing suspense novel, July 20, 2004
By 
HORAK (Zug, Switzerland) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Two Faces of January (Hardcover)
Chester Mc Farland, a clever swindler and defrauder, is travelling in Greece with his wife Colette. They are about to arrive in Athens and settle into The King's Palace.
Another American also present in Athens at the same time is Rydal Keener. He is spending several months in Europe on what money he inherited from his grandmother.
It is when Rydal sees Chester at the Benaki Museum for the first time that his resemblance to Rydal's father's twin brother strikes him. Rydal then decides to keep an eye on Chester. A few days later, Chester gets the unpleasant visit of a Greek police officer who informs him that he is working in co-operation with the American authorities. The latter are apparently more and more interested in Chester's shady past. Realising that he may well be arrested and extradited, Chester hits the policeman who then stumbles and falls, banging his head against the bathtub. A fatal blow. Chester immediately understands that he must hide the body in a small store-room down the corridor. It is at the precise moment when Chester is dragging the corps in the corridor that Rydal appears on the landing and witnesses Chester's act. Will Rydal help or blackmail Chester?
As good as "Strangers on a train" or the Ripley series by the same author.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Greek Drama from Patricia Highsmith, May 21, 2014
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This review is from: The Two Faces of January (Highsmith, Patricia) (Paperback)
When I heard that THE TWO FACES OF JANUARY was recently made into a film, I decided to read the novel before I see it. I've read several of Patricia Highsmith's novels (Strangers on a Train, The Talented Mr. Ripley) and many of her wonderful short stories, but this title was unfamiliar to me. I'm glad I decided to read it. This is a terrific suspense novel.

Rydal Keener, an amoral, bored young American man (shades of Mr. Ripley!), is knocking around Europe in 1962. In Athens, he comes to the aid of an older American man, Chester MacFarland, who's just accidentally killed a Greek detective. Chester reminds Rydal of his late father, with whom he had issues, and Chester's young wife, Collette, is very pretty and very--um, available. So Rydal joins the pair, getting them false passports and helping them flee to Crete. He soon learns that Chester is a notorious con man who's wanted back in the States. Rydal is very attracted to Collette, and the feelings are mutual. Chester doesn't like that, and we already know he can be a violent man. We also know from the book's title that dual personalities will play an important part in the outcome (the month of January is named after Janus, the two-faced god). Forced to stick together as they run from the authorities, these three people act out a new version of an old Greek drama.

Graham Greene called Patricia Highsmith a "poet of apprehension," and that's a perfect description of her. What I love about her stories is the feeling that we don't always know what's going to happen next. This novel is unsettling, to say the least, and it really casts a spell. It's a gripping read, start to finish. I can't wait to see the movie! Highly recommended.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars atmospheric and entertaining, but Highsmith has done better, April 17, 2001
By 
lazza (Fort Lauderdale, Florida) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Two Faces of January (Highsmith, Patricia) (Paperback)
'The Two Faces of January' is one of many Highsmith's lesser known works written after her early great successes ('The Talented Mr Ripley', 'Strangers on a Train') and before her decline in the 1980s. It follows the formula often used by Highsmith: two men, guilty or accused of murder, playing a psychological duel until either party breaks down. However in this novel the formula didn't work that well for me.
The story is about an American couple (hubby is a crook, wife is unfaithful) on vacation in Greece who 'accidently' kill a cop. Another American, a stranger to them, helps in covering up the crime. Of course they don't get off that easy, and the adventure begins. The relationship amongst these Americans takes odd turns, and ... you'll need to read the rest.
I suppose I found the book 'only entertaining' (versus enthralling) because I felt the main characters were generally unlikable. I had no empathy, let alone sympathy, for their plight. However perhaps the best part of the novel is the perfect capture of early 1960s vagabond European travelling (ie, before the era of jet travel and package tours) to be fascinating. So for this (probably unintentional) reason I found 'The Two Faces of January' to be a very fast read.
Bottom line: an enjoyable romp of mystery and old-fashioned European travel. No, not a Highsmith classic. But even her 'so-so' efforts are better than most.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Psychologically Penetrating Thriller, October 23, 2014
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This novel about an American con man who murders a Greek detective in Athens then goes on the run with the help of his wife and another young American who’s bumming around Europe to escape his family’s high career expectations for him nicely captures a time and a place along with an atmosphere of amoral elegant decadence. The trio flee the scene of the crime, an Athens hotel where they stuff a dead detective in a maintenance closet, and they go to Crete then on to Paris, hiding in bars, restaurants, hotels, and archaeological sites while their mutual suspicions and paranoias play out. They can’t trust each other but they have no one else to turn to because of the crime that implicates all three of them so they must continue on in the company of possible friends and possible enemies. The tension is nicely balanced between their inner demons and the authorities who are in hot pursuit and the setting of tourist post-war Europe gives this novel a sophisticated polish typical of the novels of Patricia Highsmith.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Vintage Highsmith., November 19, 2014
By 
Michael G. "mikefromrochester" (Rochester, NY United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Two Faces of January (Highsmith, Patricia) (Paperback)
If you enjoyed reading The Talented Mr. Ripley, you will in all likelihood also enjoy The Two Faces of January. The two books have many similarities.
Like much of Patricia Highsmith's fiction, The Two Faces of January is dark and disturbing. Another word I would use to describe it is claustrophobic. It takes place mostly in Greece and revolves around the chance meeting of Rydal Keener, an American law school grad and Chester MacFarland, an American con artist traveling in Europe with his young, beautiful wife, Collette.
This is a tale about deeply flawed people and the convoluted thought processes they use to justify criminal, immoral behavior. A shocking view of the darker side of life told in the author's inimitable style.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Predictable, May 20, 2014
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This review is from: The Two Faces of January (Highsmith, Patricia) (Paperback)
It was still a pretty good read, but I started figuring out the ending by the middle of the novel. A man, who uses several aliases, is on the run with his young, and pretty wife. There is an element of spousal abuse, and you'll be able to conclude that he's a real heel early on. Enter, a guy in Greece who starts helping them. A guy they don't really know. So you start to wonder how could he be trusted. Some good suspense. Patricia Highsmith is the author of The Talented Mr. Ripley, which was an excellent movie. The Two Faces of January will be a movie, release date unknown, starring Viggo Mortensen. It will be interesting to read what the critics have to say.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A true Highsith tale, October 21, 2014
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This is a very interesting story. It's a tad too long and has some (to me) unnecessary twists, but the story is interesting, and the action is tense. An ineffectual young man abets a white-collar thief turned murderer and becomes part of an international chase. A true Highsmith tale. Nice read.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Patricia Highsmith is a master storyteller, November 4, 2014
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Her characters begin as ordinary people and morph into scary psychopaths. I loved that in The Talented Mr. Ridley and again here. Also the odd settings in Europe, Athens Crete and sleazy hotels in Marseille and,Paris. A great psychological thriller.
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The Two Faces of January (Highsmith, Patricia)
The Two Faces of January (Highsmith, Patricia) by Patricia Highsmith (Paperback - January 21, 1994)
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