Today, we will be reviewing the psychological thriller Strangers on a Train by Patricia Highsmith. Keep reading to find out what we thought of the novel and if you should read this novel next!
Strangers on a Train Summary
Guy Haines is on a training, headed to see his wife who he wants to divorce. While on the train, he meets a stranger named Charles Anthony Bruno who starts conversing with Guy. Bruno imposes himself on Guy and soon after, Bruno shares his idea with Guy.
Bruno wants to kill Guy’s wife Miriam and Guy would kill Bruno’s father who Bruno hates with a passion. Guy is horrified by Bruno as Bruno goes into detail about how he would do it and nobody would suspect them because they don’t know each other and have no motives.
After meeting up with his wife, Guy finds out that she isn’t eager to divorce him just yet and she plans to follow him to Florida. That forces Guy to give up his new gig and he decides to visit Anne, the woman he is currently in love with.
While in Mexico, Guy gets a phone call and finds out that his wife has been murdered. Guy has suspicions that it was Bruno that killed her. After the murder, Bruno stalks Guy and wants him to kill Bruno’s father as he mails Guy letters about the plan. Guy is haunted day and night by Bruno and is afraid that Bruno will incriminate Guy. Will Guy follow through with the murder or be driven insane by Bruno first?
The summary is longer than usual and while it may feel like a spoiler, that is mostly stuff that happens in the beginning. The murder of Miriam kickstarts the novel and is a pivotal part of the novel. More than the murder, the novel is about after Guy and Bruno meet on the train and what soon follows.
Most people will know the film directed by Alfred Hitchcock in 1951. But not many people will know that it is also a novel. This was Highsmith’s first novel and while it was a successful one, she went underappreciated in the United States. Her novel The Talented Mr. Ripley brought her the fame in the states that alluded her with her previous novels.
If you haven’t read a novel by Highsmith, then you are missing out. Her protagonists are often mischievous and morally questionable. There are few authors that can do what she does. I enjoyed the novel and loved the themes of morality, guilty conscience, and what society judges as right and wrong.
Highsmith may not be for everyone but if you want a thriller unlike anything else, then this is a must read. Her novels are unique and you will see why they are adapted into films often. Whether it is Strangers on the Train or The Talented Mr. Ripley, her characters will stay with you even after you read the last page.