Excerpt from Strangers on the Train

After my sales last week on the first six books of Auntie Clem’s Bakery, book 7 is on for $0.99 today, and books 8 and 9 are on sale Wednesday and Friday.

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme. Read the rules and more teasers at The Purple Booker. Anyone can play along.

Believe it or not, I have actually never read Strangers on a Train before. I believe I saw the Hitchcock movie, some time ago. Or if not, I have seen enough clips about it to recall it as I am reading the book. I knew the premise of this classic, but it has been interesting, it’s actually quite different than I thought it would be. Rather than being a pure mystery, where there is a detective or some other sleuth trying to solve a murder, it is more of a psychological thriller where you know who the murder is, but are waiting to see how they are going to get caught.

I got a theory a person ought to do everything it’s possible to do before he dies, and maybe die trying to do something that’s really impossible.

― Patricia Highsmith, Strangers on a Train

The world of Patricia Highsmith has always been filled with ordinary people, all of whom are capable of very ordinary crimes. This theme was present from the beginning, when her debut, Strangers on a Train, galvanized the reading public. Here we encounter Guy Haines and Charles Anthony Bruno, passengers on the same train. But while Guy is a successful architect in the midst of a divorce, Bruno turns out to be a sadistic psychopath who manipulates Guy into swapping murders with him. “Some people are better off dead,” Bruno remarks, “like your wife and my father, for instance.” As Bruno carries out his twisted plan, Guy is trapped in Highsmith’s perilous world, where, under the right circumstances, anybody is capable of murder.

The inspiration for Alfred Hitchcock’s classic 1951 film, Strangers on a Train launched Highsmith on a prolific career of noir fiction, proving her a master at depicting the unsettling forces that tremble beneath the surface of everyday contemporary life.

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