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Highsmith at Her Very Best,
This review is from: Those Who Walk Away (Paperback)Those Who Walk Away is Patricia Highsmith at her very best. She throws her reader into the middle of an ambiguous, but charged, situation; the wife of a young man named Ray Garrett has just committed suicide. The young woman's father, Mr. Coleman, blames Garrett for her death and swears to take a bloody revenge. The civilized Garrett, meanwhile, wants only to work things out with his former father-in-law.
Highsmith focuses on the sources of evil and on our subjective reactions to evil. It will come as no surprise to her regular readers that many characters have no sense of morals and there is no sense that adopting a moral code would make a difference in any event. More specifically, the juxtaposition of the "vicious" Coleman and the "innocent" Garrett is a key to the novel; Highsmith suggests that the differences in these two men may not be as great as one might suppose at first glance.
The City of Venice co-stars in this novel. I've been fortunate enough to visit and I enjoyed reliving that experience through the novel. Highsmith knows Venice well. She contrasts the relatively-poor, hard-working Italians and the aimless, wealthy expatriates who vacation in Venice. Unfortunately, I think that the novel will not be as rich for those readers who have not been to Venice.
Highsmith had no betters in the world of suspense novels and Those Who Walk Away is among her very best novels. Potential readers should be aware, however, that Highsmith will force them to make a mental effort and she provides no easy answers in the end. Throughout her career, Highsmith smashed the clichés associated with the old "private-eye"-style suspense novel.
I highly recommend Those Who Walk Away.