Book Review – Strangers on a Train

This is Patricia Highsmith’s first novel.

Two strangers meet on a train, discuss their problems and one says, “How’s this for a perfect murder?  I kill your wife and you kill my father”.  I was hooked by such a premise and I enjoyed the first part of the book.  However the book soon becomes more of a psychological thriller and less a ‘who done it’.   I did find some of the psychology interesting especially how one protagonist manages to ensnare the other and the guilt feelings of one of them.  However there was a lot of repetitive interior dialogue as the author described what was going on inside the protagonists’ heads and this made for very slow reading. There were a few moments of suspense as the detective Gerard closes in, but rather than solve the case step by step he gets to the truth in a couple of giant leaps. I did find some of the characters unrealistically gullible and the actions of one of the protagonist quite unconvincing.  I found the ending unsatisfying.  Readers who have a taste for psychological thrillers will enjoy this book but I must admit I prefer the straight crime or conspiracy thriller genre.  I think the author improved with the Tom Ripley books. I haven’t seen the Hitchcock film so I can’t make comparisons. 3 stars.

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