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Strangers on a Train (Penguin Longman Penguin Readers) Paperback – Import, October 5, 2005

3.9 out of 5 stars 159 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Highsmith's 1950 debut novel made her famous (and inspired a Hitchcock film) but, unlike some of her later titles, was never recorded. William Roberts does the reading honors.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

Review

“Murder, in Patricia Highsmith’s hands, is made to occur almost as casually as the bumping of a fender.” (New York Review of Books)

“Patricia Highsmith’s novels are peerlessly disturbing.” (The New Yorker) --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.
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Product Details

  • Series: Penguin Longman Penguin Readers
  • Paperback
  • Publisher: Penguin (October 5, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1405827475
  • ISBN-13: 978-1405827478
  • Product Dimensions: 5.7 x 0.2 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.5 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (159 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #15,494,650 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Gary F. Taylor HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on May 26, 2005
Format: Paperback
Patricia Highsmith (1921-1991) was among the most lauded of the "noir" writers, an author who published over twenty books and won such prestigious prizes as the O. Henry Memorial Award and the Edgar Allan Poe Award. But in spite of her tremendous fame in Europe, she did not win fame in her native United States until after death, when the 1999 film version of her 1955 novel THE TALENTED MR. RIPLEY at last brought her work the recognition it had long deserved.

The 1950 novel STRANGERS ON A TRAIN was Highsmith's first novel, and the premise was so intriguing that no less than legendary director Alfred Hitchcock snapped up the movie rights and turned it into one of his most admired films. The Hitchcock film is a classic of its kind--but even so the novel was both too hot and too dark to be filmed "as is" in the repressive 1950s. Readers who come to the book from the film are in for a surprise.

The very famous point on which the plot turns, however, is the same. Two men, Guy and Bruno, meet by chance on a train and pass the time in conversation. Each reveals to the other that a specific person stands in the way of happiness: for Guy, it is a wayward wife who refuses to give him a divorce; for Bruno it is a stubborn father who refuses him money. When Bruno playfully suggests that he will kill the wife for Guy if Guy will kill the father for Bruno it seems like a bad-taste joke... But Guy will soon discover there is nothing to laugh about at all.

From this opening salvo Highsmith unwinds and rewinds her plot in a manner distinctly different from the Hitchcock film, and even today the book is best known for its fiendish storyline.
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Format: Paperback
Charles Bruno is not the kind of man you want to confide in, but Guy Haines doesn't listen to his inner voice telling him just that. Under the influence of liquor and the lull of a moving train, he confides in Bruno, revealing his deep distaste for Miriam, his estranged, pregnant, wife.

Thus begins an unrelenting path of secrets, lies, obsession and murder. The fascination lies in Highsmith's ability to twist the everyday into nightmare. Strangers on a Train, is taut, well-crafted, and difficult to put down. It's a brilliant example of suspense done right, & a blueprint for legion's of mystery novels to come.
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Patricia Highsmith was ahead of her time, constructing the perfect crime novel long before it would truly be appreciated. Sadly she was never as famously accepted as she could have been while still living, but thanks to reprints and reissues her novels are being given a new breath of life. Now I say all of this and I have only had the pleasure of reading one of her novels, but that novel was so articulately perfect that I have nothing but the utmost respect for the late author. `Strangers on a Train' is so brilliantly crafted that I'm racking my brain to find a flaw, a drawback of some sort and the only thing I can muster is that here and there there are some grammatical errors, but other than that...I'm coming up empty handed.

Any fan of the Hitchcock film will immediately understand why the famed late director scooped up the film rights to this novel. The premise alone deserves the reader's utmost respect. Two strangers get wrapped up in the perfect crime that escalates into the most horrific journey into the human psyche.

Up and coming architect Guy Haines is traveling by train to meet his estranged wife Miriam to pursue a divorce. Miriam has given Guy nothing but heartache, nothing but trouble, and his nerves are getting the better of him. What if she refuses the divorce? He has a lot riding on this. He has a big job in the works that could finally make for him the name he's been waiting to make. He also has a wonderful supportive woman, Anne, waiting to give her his hand in marriage. He needs this divorce more now than ever.

Charles Bruno so happens to be traveling on the same train. Bruno is traveling to escape his father, a man he abhors with every fiber in his body.
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Format: Paperback
I cannot believe that A) only one Amazon customer has written areview of this book or that B) it is out of print! WHAT! This is,quite simply, one of the finest novels I have ever read. It was as tough to put down as any other book I've encountered, and at times as profound as Shakespeare. I've yet to discover any other writer besides Highsmith whose books are both absolutely riveting and thoroughly penetrating about the human condition. At times, it was so suspenseful I thought I was going to have a heart attack. The only other experience I've had in life that was as ravaging as this book is sex. Yet despite its at-times horrifying suspense, it is excruciatingly compassionate; the ending made me weep. Highsmith's characters are unbelievably real; I still can't figure out how she makes us care so much about people who are so flawed and sinful. It's as close to the divine as a writer can get. WOULD SOMEBODY PLEASE PUT THIS BOOK BACK IN PRINT SO I CAN GIVE A COPY TO EVERYONE I KNOW! END
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