Patricia Highsmith : Selected Novels and Short Stories / Patricia Highsmith

This collection includes Patricia Highsmith’s first two novels and a number of her most representative short stories. Highsmith’s work is often dark, centering on love, murder, and the macabre. She achieved her reputation as a practitioner of the murder mystery genre with the publication of her first novel, Strangers On A Train in 1950. The story captured the interest of Alfred Hitchcock who turned it into a well-received movie. Its plot is a simple one, two strangers meet on a train and one of them suggests that they exchange murders, and since they are not connected with each other, the crimes will be unsolvable. One of the men is an architect involved in a messy divorce and he has no idea the other is serious about the proposition. The other man, Charles Bruno, is an alcoholic and a true psychopath who does indeed kill the architect’s wife. As a result, the architect finds himself in a tangled web from which he cannot extract himself without looking as though he had a hand in the murder. The second novel included here, The Price Of Salt (1952) is much different than the first. It centers on a lesbian relationship between a young woman and an older married woman who is going through a divorce. It is a sympathetic portrayal of homosexuality and quite a daring topic for an author at the time to tackle. Highsmith had a difficult time finding anyone to publish it despite the success of her first novel. This collection serves as an excellent introduction for anyone unfamiliar with her work. These two novels and the accompanying thirteen short stories showcase her range as an author. While much of her output was murder mysteries, this compilation is proof that Highsmith deserves to be recognized as a serious author who transcended that genre, creating serious works of fiction that have stood the test of time.

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