Your rating(Clear)Rate this item


There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.

26 of 26 people found the following review helpful
on January 1, 2002
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!
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on May 21, 2014
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.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on July 20, 2004
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.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
12 of 16 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon September 24, 2007
"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.
88 commentsWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
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.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on December 8, 2014
While it is not her best, it was a good read and worth the time invested in reading it. The movie currently playing and based on this novel had the advantage of hindsight and tightened the plot considerably.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on October 23, 2014
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.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on October 21, 2014
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.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
on May 19, 2015
Patricia Highsmith’s wonderfully deviant, amoral characters set her books apart in a genre where sociopaths are the norm and just about essential for any psychological thriller worth its salt. No other suspense author drills down into the inner workings of their players quite like Highsmith did. Much of the reason is that she took her time to build her characters, letting small details work their tension, blending the mundane with the immoral so that we as readers identify with some fairly reprehensible people before we can be repelled by them. A saved letter about an unattended funeral speaks volumes about a young man’s feelings towards his father, allowing us to comprehend his later actions. A man’s love for his young wife makes us overlook a good deal of his criminal behavior. In Highsmith’s novels it’s not easy to discern the hero from the villain and often, as in her popular Ripley books, it’s the criminal (usually murderer) we end up rooting for. The same forces are at work in The Two Faces of January but to a subtler degree. You won’t find a truly good person in these pages but it doesn’t matter. In this story of three expat Americans who cross paths in early 1960s Athens, you’ll want at least one of them to get away with breaking the law.

Rydel is a wandering Peter Pan living off his grandmother’s money, putting off the inevitable trip back to the US to face responsibility and tedium, when he encounters Chester, a crooked stockbroker on the run, who accidentally kills a Greek policeman who is onto him. For no other reason than Chester reminds Rydel of his father, Rydel helps Chester hide the body and acquires forged passports for him and his comely wife, Colette. Chester then invites Rydel to accompany him and Colette to Crete to help the couple navigate their way out of Greece, beyond the reach of the authorities (Rydel speaks Greek and has shady connections). But Colette’s infatuation for Rydel upsets the applecart, and Chester sees red. No one seems to think twice about the death of a policeman, let alone marital vows. It may even feel like love--for two of the three anyway--but it doesn’t end well.

Rydel is one of Highsmith’s better creations, quite affable as he keeps veering away from doing the right thing. He just can’t seem to. The reader understands. Chester is a perfect villain, because he knows who he is. Colette is a well-nuanced temptress, made of real flesh and blood, with a heart and soul. The secondary characters in this novel are all Highsmith quality as well.

I’m not sure why this book is trending towards three stars in the ratings—it’s one of Highsmith’s better ones, with its simple tale of three people who think they can do no wrong but end up doing an awful lot of it.

My only minor disappointment came in the final few pages, where I was hoping for one final twist that didn’t come. The ending I envisioned seemed glaringly obvious to me but Patricia Highsmith clearly wasn’t thinking what I was thinking when she penned this book—or maybe she didn’t want to be predictable. But it works, and redeems one of the characters.

Regardless, by the time Two Faces is rolling, the plot feels inevitable. And that’s the mark of a master.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on November 4, 2014
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.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse

Send us feedback

How can we make Amazon Customer Reviews better for you?
Let us know here.