Read Strangers on a Train by Patricia Highsmith Online

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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 novel, 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 thThe 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 novel, 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....

Title : Strangers on a Train
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 16008208
Format Type : Kindle Edition
Number of Pages : 292 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Strangers on a Train Reviews

  • Delee
    2019-03-18 02:37

    When I was in my 20s- living in Toronto and traveling on the train to visit my parents 4 hours away- I always thought there was nothing worse than trying to read my book while having some annoying fellow passenger try to start a conversation...but then I watched Alfred Hitchcock's STRANGERS ON A TRAIN and realized- Nope it could have been worse. I usually have a hard time reading the book once I have watched the movie, but Patricia Highsmith's novel is very different than Hitchcock's adaptation of it. It is much darker and much more sinister...Guy Haines life is just about perfect- he is about to get his big break as an architect, and he is in love with and wants to marry Anne- his girlfriend of two years. There is just one small problem. His wife Miriam is making life difficult for him, so Guy is on his way to his hometown of Metcalf to meet with her, and get the divorce finalized.While on the train Guy meets Charles Anthony Bruno- a shiftless young man who hates his rich father- Samuel Bruno...but loves spending Samuel's money. As the hours pass and the alcohol flows, the idle chatter between the two men takes a dark turn when Bruno turns the talk to murder. The perfect murder. His idea- I kill your wife, you kill my father...STRANGERS ON A TRAIN is a psychological thriller that stays with you. One that will make you think twice about striking up a conversation with a seemingly innocent stranger. Do yourself a favor and keep your nose in a book. *Note -Not to be confused with Throw Momma from the Train....sorry I just had to get that picture in.

  • Dan Schwent
    2019-03-21 01:57

    When Guy Haines and Charles Anthony Bruno meet on a train, they discover they have one thing in common: each of them has someone they would be better off without. When Haines' estranged wife winds up strangled, he finds himself caught in Bruno's psychotic, alcoholic web...Yeah, that makes the book sound really gripping. It wasn't. The Hitchcock film Strangers on a Train is legendary so I thought I'd give the book that inspired it a shot. I would have been better off watching Throw Mama From the Train again.The setup is classic noir: two men, two murders, no complications. The problem is that neither man is all that interesting. Guy Haines is too by the book and Bruno is an alcoholic mama's boy, more sad that anything else.It may have been a case of wrong book, wrong time, but the engine just didn't turn over for me with this one. I was pretty bored for the first half. After that, I was just ready for it to be over. The first murder was boring, the second was kind of illogical considering how flimsy things were, and the rest was just running out the clock.I will say that Patricia Highsmith, like Jim Thompson, writes a very believable alcoholic psychopath. From her Wikipedia entry, I'd say a lot of it came from experience.I'm going to paraphrase Roger Ebert (I think) here: Strangers on a Train is a gripping short story squeezed into 280 pages. Two out of five stars.

  • Kelly (and the Book Boar)
    2019-03-11 07:02

    Find all of my reviews at: http://52bookminimum.blogspot.com/In order to prove that NO, I DON’T ONLY READ PORNOS THANK YOU VERY LITTLE I begged Steve to pull me out of my downward spiral and buddy read this one with me. When my husband asked his nightly question “what are you reading????” I was so very proud to say a classic rather than smut. I also jumped at the chance to say it was a book written by the author of The Talented Mr. Ripley and that this novel became one of my favorite Hitchcock films. It was at this point my husband pointed out that in the course of our 20 year marriage there has been an annual Alfred Hitchcock movie marathon on Turner Classic Movies and that he was pretty sure the winner of first place in my heart was . . . .He also pointed out during said movie marathons that no interaction with me was permitted during . . . . And . . . . And . . . . And . . . . And . . . Either. So basically me saying “a favorite Hitchcockian masterpiece” pretty much amounted to diddly shit.It was at this point I reminded him exactly what this story was about . . . .Guy Haines meets Charlie Bruno on a train and shares a meal with him in order to pass the time. I know what you’re thinking - WHY THE EFF WOULD ANYONE DO THIS WHEN THEY COULD JUST READ A BOOK?!?!?!? Who knows? It was a different time when men wore hats and ladies had to worry about stuff like whether the seam on their stockings was straight. Basically, people were cray. Anywho, over the course of this dinner between strangers (*shudder*) Guy shares that he’s an architect sitting on the cusp of making it big, has a real beaut of a gal he’s planning on marrying and that the reason he’s on the trip is to finalize a divorce agreement with his first wife. Bruno’s story is pretty much that he’s a drunk with an Oedipus complex who would like someone to off his dear ol’ dad. Which leads us to the offer of a murder swap and Bruno mistaking a clearly stated no for YAAAAAASSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS leading to turnabout being fair play and Guy getting blackmailed into fulfilling his half of the bargain as well. Sounds like a real winner, don’t it??? Yeah. It definitely could have been if it were about 100 pages lighter. There just wasn’t much to this one aside from the stabby stabby (or in this case the strangley shooty). The majority of the book was just “meh” page filler with little character development aside from each respectively losing their marbles. The Hitchcock film, on the other hand? Magnificent. Please remember, however, that this is the man who could sniff out something so brilliant in an itsy-bitsy little 14-pager. ORIGINAL "REVIEW"Buddy up with my pal Steve

  • Eve
    2019-03-14 03:46

    “My mistake was telling a stranger my private business.” — Guy HainesThis is my first Highsmith book, which is a shame because I have seen most movie adaptations of her novels. Throw Mama from the Train is one of my all-time favorite movies, and now I’ve finally read the book that the movie is loosely based on.The book itself is far from comedic. Written in 1950, this gritty noir novel is mostly set in New York. Guy Haines, an up and coming architect, meets Charlie Bruno on a train bound for his Texas hometown, where he is due to meet up with his estranged wife. Though he doesn’t exchange too much personal information, Bruno has an uncanny perception of Guy’s mind and the real nature of his relationship with Miriam, his wife. He quickly offers up a foul-proof solution to getting rid of the “Miriam problem” in exchange for a small favor.Even though the plot was predictable, I did find the psychological and philosophical themes on duality pretty interesting. Do each of us have a twin that is both our exact opposite and enemy? Another person that is the embodiment of evil? Are all of us capable of murder given the right circumstances? While I did enjoy the novel, I felt that Highsmith worked too hard to convey that message, and that it could have been a hundred pages shorter.

  • Robin
    2019-03-17 00:53

    Everything has its opposite close beside it.Why don't people write thrillers like Patricia Highsmith anymore? This, her first novel, boasts an iconic plot, gruelling tension, characters with psychological complexities, and plenty of intellect to balance out murderous actions. Plus, a psychopath. She's so good at the psychopaths.I'm not surprised Alfred Hitchcock found this book worthy inspiration for his 1951 film. It's clever. Two men meet on a train journey. Guy, our 'hero', on his way to secure a divorce, makes the fatal error of sharing personal information with Bruno. He tells him he hates his wife. He gives names and details. Bruno shares that he wishes his father were dead, and suggests a plan for the "perfect murder": Bruno kills the wife, Guy kills the father, and >pouf< all their problems disappear. No one would be the wiser because the men are strangers and can't be connected.Guy being normal, is repelled by Bruno and his switcheroo idea, and removes himself. The train journey ends. That's the last he'll see of that weirdo... right? Well, of course not, that would be boring. Murder is committed. Bruno is a nasty smell that just won't go away.Highsmith's novel is haunted by concepts made famous by Robert Louis Stevenson's Jekyll and Hyde. The idea of opposites, good and evil, as naturally coexisting forces, is exemplified in the characters of Guy and Bruno, but also within Guy himself. How much threat is necessary to cause a basically 'good' person to commit murder? And, for that matter, is anyone 'basically good'?Highsmith's clear prose paints a stylish picture of the time: train travel, omnipresent alcohol, glamorous women. There are also glimmers of homoeroticism, compulsion, wealth, and an innocent female love interest, which all feature in her later novel, The Talented Mr. Ripley. I found the ending, while not predictable and dappled with clever and logical twists, lost some of the power built in the first two thirds of the book. But I still enjoyed this classic thriller that gives new meaning to the old adage "don't talk to strangers". Just don't!He felt rather like two people, one of whom could create and feel in harmony with God when he created, and the other who could murder.

  • Barbara
    2019-03-20 03:53

    Architect Guy Haines is on a train to Texas to see his estranged wife Miriam to discuss their divorce. Before long Charles Bruno, a rich n'er do well, sits down opposite him. Haines talks about his problems with Miriam and Bruno talks about his hatred for his father. Before long Bruno makes a suggestion: the two men should "exchange murders." That is, Bruno should kill Miriam and Haines should kill Bruno's dad - and having no demonstrable motive - neither man will be suspected. Haines strongly opposes this scheme, refuses to participate, and goes on his way. Before long, however, Bruno tracks Miriam down and murders her. He then proceeds to stalk Haines and insert himself into Haine's life at every opportunity - pressuring him to carry out his part of the plan. To say any more would be a spoiler. The book is a well-crafted psychological thriller with believable well-rounded characters. I wanted to jump into the book and shout at Haines to "get that nutcase out of your life" but of course that would have spoiled the plot. I enjoyed the book. And Alfred Hitchcock made it into an excellent film as well.You can follow my reviews at https://reviewsbybarbsaffer.blogspot....

  • Algernon
    2019-03-11 00:57

    [7/10] Any kind of person can murder. Purely circumstances and not a thing to do with temperament! People get so far - and it gets just the least little thing to push them over the brink. Anybody. Even your grandmother. I know! A disturbing proposition that I happen to strongly disagree with, but I can't think of a more able writer to raise doubts in my mind and to argue the merits of the case. According to her biographical notes, Patricia Highsmith started her study of perverted human nature at a very early age ( At the age of eight, she discovered Karl Menninger's The Human Mind and was fascinated by the case studies of patients afflicted with mental disorders such as pyromania and schizophrenia. ), and a list of her favorite authors include Kafka, Dostoyevsky, Camus, Conrad. It is no surprise then that, when she turned her talent towards writing crime fiction, she concentrated not on the whodunit questions, but on the motivations and the twisted reasonings in the mind of the killers."Strangers on a Train" is her debut novel, and the circumstances alluded to in the opening statement are as follows: two men accidentally meet and start a conversation during one of those long nights traversing the praerie. One of them, Guy, is a young arhitect on the brink of success, who goes back to his native Midwestern hometown to get a divorce from his embittered wife. The other, Bruno, is a rich socialite with an alcohol addiction and a deep seated hatred for his tight-fisted father. I am simplifying things here, as there are undercurrents and side issues that will come into play, a baggage of repressed feelings and unackowledged yearnings that would put a roomfull of psychologists to work for a year to untangle - Oedipal, Faustian, homosexual, envy, greed, anxiety - the list could go on and on, but basically Guy sees himself a a straight shooter, and Bruno is revealed even from the first statements a raving psychopat. The object of Highsmith's study is then not Bruno, already damaged goods, but Guy, and the path that will lead him to abandon all his principles and participate in the psychopat's game.Mention of the game, means that from this point forward the review will contain spoilers, so tread carefully if you are unfamiliar with the story or with Alfred Hitchcock's famous movie adaptation.- - - - The plan is for each man to solve the other man's problem. Bruno will get rid of Guy's wife, and Guy will knock off Bruno's father. In this way both will have unbreakable alibis, and the police will find no motive for the murders, since the two men are supposedly strangers to one another. As any sane person would do, Guy rejects the offer without a second of doubt. But Bruno is another kettle of fish. - "What do you want, Bruno?" - "Something. Everything. 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." The first half of the novel concentrates more on Bruno's side of the story, and it was a page turner for me, despite the repulsive feeling I got from dwelling so long inside the mind of a deranged person. Patricia Highsmith is the writer that sets down the standard by which other psychological thrillers will be judged in the future. Arguably, her Ripley books are more subtle and better argumented, but the major themes and the style is already evident here, in her first novel. One quote I think is enough to illustrate my point: Oh, yes, he had felt terrific power! That was it. He had taken away a life. Now, nobody knew what life was, everybody defended it, the most priceless possession, but he had taken one away. That night there had been the danger, the ache of his hands, the fear in case she made a sound, but the instant when he felt that life had left her, everything else had fallen away, and only the mysterious fact of the thing he did remained, the mystery and the miracle of stopping life. The second part of the novel switches focus on Guy, and here is where I started to struggle a little, not with the pacing, which remains tightly wounded, but with the lead character's motivations. I found the weakening of the ethical principles in the young arhitect a touch too abrupt and convenient for the needs of the plot. The moral blackmail that Bruno exercises on Guy is still within the parameters of that deranged mind, but the response of Guy is for me out of character - a debilitating weakness and a torturous chain of reasoning that swings wildly from denial of facts to fatalistic acceptance of Bruno's arguments. Case in point: despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, Guy still pretends Bruno has nothing to do with the death of his first wife. I know temporary insanity is an accepted pledge in American courts of law, but for me this a cop out. To illustrate the kind of debate that goes oninside Guy's head, I have picked up one of his monologues: ... love and hate, he thought now, good and evil, lived side by side in the human heart, and not merely in different proportions in one man and the next, but all good and all evil. One had merely to look for a little of either to find it all, one had merely to scratch the surface. All things had opposites close by, every decision a reason against it, the male and female, the positive the negative. Had this novel been writen by a male author, such association between evil and the female principle would have been cause for burning at the stake by feminists. Why did Highsmith include it here? Is it a mirror of the relationship between sexes in the early 50's? Or some other deeper disappointment in her own sentimental liaisons? Since the author preferred to be discreet about her personal life, my speculations here are gratuitous, but it is interesting to note the level of analysis that can be supported in the behaviour observations of Highsmith's characters.The third part of the novel started to drag on for me, as the lines are already drawn in the conflict of personalities between Bruno and Guy, the action is concluded, and the only unresolved issue is the aftermath of the crime. Who will punish the successful criminal? Society seems unable to, and an appeal to Bruno's conscience is an exercise in futility. The only one left is Guy, and his late arrival misgivings rang as contrived to me as his earlier acquiescence to Bruno's demands. In all honesty, Highsmith is still brilliant in her exposition and in her ability to go from the personal to the problems of society as a whole, but as a reader I was surprisingly eager to get it over with, not caring one way or another if Guy embraces his Dark Side, or if he returns to the fold of the responsible social animal.Conclusion: mixed feelings, admiration for the author's talent, coupled with personal dislike for one of her main characters (surprisingly, not the openly corrupt one). The rank of the novel among the classics of crime fiction is well deserved. I have started with a controversial theory, and I would like to finish on a more ambiguous note, one that is easier to get behind, even as it deconstructs most of my arguments above:Logic doesn't always work out, so far as people go.

  • ❀Julie
    2019-03-08 03:48

    3.5 stars. After reading The Talented Mr. Ripley, I confess I really did want to like this book more. But, given this was her debut novel it's pretty darn good and does make one think: Could a manipulative psychopath really drive one to this kind of evil by the arousal of fear?? A seemingly normal “Guy” and psychopath Bruno are strangers on a train whose secrets revealed lead to Bruno suggesting they create the “perfect murder". Guy doesn’t take him seriously, just wants to be rid of him, and is eventually led on a downward spiral. Patricia Highsmith certainly has a knack for creating unlikable characters and disturbing scenes--and it was worth listening to the audiobook for the true essence of the characters’ distinct voices. Strangers on a Train was more like watching a train wreck—it made me really uncomfortable yet somehow I couldn’t bring myself to turn away, but wanted to get past it quickly!

  • Darwin8u
    2019-03-16 08:37

    “People, feelings, everything! Double! Two people in each person. There's also a person exactly the opposite of you, like the unseen part of you, somewhere in the world, and he waits in ambush.” ― Patricia Highsmith, Strangers on a TrainI put off watching the great Hitchcock's take on this Highsmith classic until I actually read it. The book has a neat narrative symmetry and logic to it. It contains a lot of the early hints of some of her later, great Ripley novels: obsessiveness, insanity, meticulous crimes, impulsiveness, boats, doppelgängers, homoeroticism, art, food, etc. I didn't enjoy it as much as the Ripley novels, but even without knowing the great body of work to follow this one book, 'Strangers on a Train' contains enough to convince even the most hardened skeptic that Highsmith wasn't just an innocent young writer hoping to make her mark. No. Highsmith, it is obvious from the beginning, was a dangerous talent, an unpredictable force prepared to execute on her literary desires and vision. I can only begin to imagine how this novel (dropping in 1950), written by a woman, would have contained its own unique blast zones. Don't look at the explosion, just turn your cheek to the heat.

  • David Schaafsma
    2019-02-25 03:42

    Possibly I have been reading too many Cornell Woolrich and Jim Thompson gutter noir novels, tightly constructed, no waste, down and dirty, but I thought this was both elegant and about 1/3 longer than it needed to be. Patricia Highsmith imo gets high marks for this book that Hitchcock made into a classic movie, but it is also full of too many rather dull and sophisticated suburbanites. And yes, I am also reading #34 of Agatha Christie’s Hercules Poirot so I have a fairly high tolerance usually for rich snobs as characters, but usually they are less dull than many of these folks. Guy and Bruno, our two main characters, are interesting, though, because they are corrupt in ways that the Good and Boring are not. These two operate homo-erotically, and dopplegangerishly and Oedipally as a lot of mid- nineteenth-century mysteries seemed to be, with lost of psychopaths and sociopaths. Apparently Highsmith liked both psychology and “literary” fiction; she studied the psych texts of her time, and also liked Camus, Dostoevsky, the darker guys that inform a lot of noir. So her work is something along the lines of psychological thriller more than detective fiction. We read this from the perspective of Guy and Bruno.Guy, an up-and-coming architect, is talking to a stranger, Bruno, on a train and for some (bad) reason he spills all the details about his train wreck of a personal life: He and his wife are separated and seeing other people and they are seeking an amicable divorce. The stranger hears the story from a Guy he increasingly likes (and “likes,” maybe) and he talks about murdering her for Guy. Guy says no, he finds out she is pregnant and then she miscarries, but (spoiler alert!) Bruno does in fact kill her. Can Guy now go on with his life with his new love, Anne? Well, it's not that simple. Bruno wants to get rid of his Dad, and he says to Guy, if you don’t kill my Dad for me, I will make it clear you are implicated in the killing of your own wife, so. . . . Guy does kill Bruno's Dad. This is a stretch to believe, I’ll admit, but the point about them is that they are essentially one character, Jekyll and Hyde, and they are dopplegangers, and they are attracted to each other, and they are both more in love with their mothers than any other women. This is the Oedipal part, for both men. Anyway, there's a lot you are going to have to question about in this story beyond your disbelief about Guy becoming murderer.But, Highsmith has other concerns in her psychological drama:“Any kind of person can murder. Purely circumstances and not a thing to do with temperament! People get so far -- and it takes just the least little thing to push them over the brink. Anybody. Even your grandmother. I know.” And this stems from our “doubleness,” our capacity for good and evil:“People, feelings, everything! Double! Two people in each person. There's also a person exactly the opposite of you, like the unseen part of you, somewhere in the world, and he waits in ambush.”Guy, the good architect, has as his opposite Bruno, the loser, and this relationship is an emblem of the human condition: “But love and hate, he thought now, good and evil, lived side by side in the human heart, and not merely in differing proportions in one man and the next, but all good and all evil. One had merely to look for a little of either to find it all, one had merely to scratch the surface. All things had opposites close by, every decision a reason against it, every animal an animal that destroys it, the male the female, the positive the negative.”The attraction to their mothers by our two antiheroes is kind of creepily interesting in this story, as is the mention of mother characteristics in each woman either of them gets involved with in some way. Drink, present in most detective stories and noir in particular (and looking back to Dostoevsky), is also an interesting aspect of this story:“The way to see the world was to see it drunk. Everything was created to be seen drunk.” “The tragedy was not even the first drink, because the first drink was not the first resort but the last." “The taste of Scotch, though Guy didn’t much care for it, was pleasant because it reminded him of Anne. She drank Scotch, when she drank. It was like her, golden, full of light, made with careful art."This is like a lot of noir sort of Calvinist in that it assumes kind of baseline total depravity. That's an interesting aspect of noir in general. Strangers is maybe 3.75 for me, not as good as the Ripley novels I recall reading years ago or as deliciously evil as the Thompson or Woolritch books. I glanced at reviews that gave it 1 or 2 stars from friends I respect, but hey, I liked it quite a bit in the end.

  • Margitte
    2019-02-20 06:49

    Since I haven't seen this movie, I wasn't aware that this book was the inspiration for Alfred Hitchcock's classic 1951 film with the same title until after I finished reading this book. Published in 1950, this book is remarkable in the sense that it has a modern, contemporary tone. Guy Haines, the architect, and Charles Anthony Bruno, the wealthy shiftless wanderer, meet on the train and share personal details.From the blurb: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. 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. Of course it did not work out as planned, but evil did gain the upperhand in this classic, dark, gritty, psychological thriller. The duality of the weak versus the strong determines the outcome of the two people who meet on the train. It's a gripping story, but gritting on the teeth. It's morally disgusting but psychologically exciting. It's the evil weak against the evil strong. There's no good anywhere in sight between the two main characters - although it might have appeared differently at first. But wow, what a story! The role of women bring another chilling dimension and darkness into the sinister tale.Way beyond my comfort zone. But I wanted to read it for a long time, and now I did. Ticked off from the Bucket List. Finito And really, I do not want to watch the movie. I won't survive it! :-))

  • Caroline
    2019-03-19 08:53

    ***ALL SPOILERS HIDDEN***Nightmare on a train. The premise is simple enough. Two men meet on a train, and a weird discussion about swapping murders ensues. Patricia Highsmith’s intriguing but imperfect tale is definitely a chilling portrait of obsessive psychopathy. It also asks an unsettling question: Do we all have a dark side?Strangers on a Train is short and mostly to the point, though it could have been shorter, perhaps even a novella. Told in third person omniscient point of view, Strangers on a Train features nicely fleshed-out main characters Guy Haines, a buttoned-up architect, and Charles Bruno, a relaxed character who spends most of his time inebriated. The story’s hook is decent and propels it forward most of the time, though Strangers on a Train is dead in the water time and again when attention turns to Guy’s career woes. (view spoiler)[This instantly destroys the nicely building tension surrounding the murders and subsequent investigation. (hide spoiler)] Guy’s work situation has little, if any, relevance to the greater story, so it’s hard to care about his work worries. This is partially where Strangers on a Train carries on for too long.The story has an odd set-up (view spoiler)[in the sense that for all the focus on murder, the murders are dispatched with easily and too early in the story. The story then devolves into a focus on Guy and Bruno’s respective domestic affairs, with a hyper-focus on Bruno’s drunkenness. Here, the tension trickles away while the story is prolonged far past where it should have ended. Bruno is drained of the creepy--but controlled--malice he displays so perfectly in the first half of the story and is merely pathetic. Guy is no longer paranoid and scared of him; on the contrary, their strange dysfunctional relationship morphs into one in which Bruno is enamored of Guy and Guy can’t seem to--doesn’t want to--detach from Bruno (though a part of him does want to). It’s as if Highsmith didn’t know how she wanted Guy and Bruno to be, despite crafting them distinctly. (hide spoiler)] It’s all very muddled, and the second half is thus markedly weaker than the first.The attention on obsessive psychopathy is mostly in the beginning and is fascinating and the main reason to read Strangers on a Train. Highsmith didn’t portray it complexly, but it’s very clear she understood this frightening disorder--and she knew how to portray harassment and obsession at its creepiest. All in all, Strangers on a Train is a simple, merely good story. For every strength, it has a matching weakness, and its loose organization and capricious main characters may frustrate.Final verdict: Read but don’t expect greatness.

  • Nancy Oakes
    2019-03-01 04:55

    "And Bruno, he and Bruno. Each was what the other had not chosen to be, the cast-off self, what he thought he hated, but perhaps in reality loved."Strangers on a Train is another case where most people have seen the movie but haven't read the book or didn't know there was a novel behind it. In this case, if you've seen the movie, and then go to read Highsmith's book, you end up with two different entities. The basic plot is the same -- two men, total strangers, meet on a train; one (Bruno) is a psychopath and in conversation things eventually come around to the concept of the "perfect murder." Bruno will get rid of the woman who stands in the way of the other man's (Guy Haines) path to happiness, and Guy in return, will get rid of Bruno's father. Guy has no intention of carrying out his side of Bruno's imaginary bargain, but Bruno kills Guy's wife anyway. I can see why Hitchcock got involved with this movie -- it seems tailor made for the man. But this is where movie and novel take different paths. Actually, the book and movie part company very early on. There's really no need to rehash the plot of this book since it is so very well known, but it's worth saying that the strength of this novel is in Highsmith's ability to very quickly bring the reader inside of her characters' heads. The same is true in her Talented Mr. Ripley. In Strangers on a Train, she examines the very complex relationship between two men, strangers before they had that fateful meeting on the train, but whose lives afterward become inescapably interwined. The reader sees what drives each man not only individually, but also in the complexity of the ties that bring them "closer than brotherhood," even when they are not together. The quotation at the beginning of this post, to me, allows the reader to comprehend this tangled and tortuous relationship (and I could talk forever on the topic but I'll spare you), but the true genius of this novel is this: most of what creates the tension and suspense in this story plays out in the space of their minds. Sure, there are the physical murder scenes, but even here, you are taken step by step through the entire process of killing as seen through the respective characters' eyes. As the story progresses and you feel that all-too human need to sympathize with someone, you begin to realize that sympathy becomes an elusive, rather slippery concept where the two main players are concerned. If I had read Strangers on a Train as my first foray into the mind of Patricia Highsmith, I would have bought every single book she ever wrote just praying that that they'd all be this good. I had to disagree with someone recently who complained that the book just didn't have enough "action," because frankly, action is not what Highsmith's writing is all about, a point evidently lost on the person but whatever. Anyone who picks up one of her books should know that she's going to dive right into the psyche and pull out whatever's there for all to see -- and then you're along for the ride as she slowly starts the dissection. I can't speak highly enough about this book, or the author: Highsmith is genuinely in a class of her own.

  • Arah-Lynda
    2019-03-11 07:39

    I went into this already familiar with Hitchcock’s film version of the same story. The opening premise of the film and HighSmith’s novel are the same. Two strangers meet on the train and discuss among other things, people in their lives: a Wife, a Father, who they would be better off without. One of these strangers, Charles Bruno, is an extremely well imagined sociopath, while the other, Guy, is a mild mannered architect whose role in this story I never entirely accept. (view spoiler)[Bruno murders Guy’s wife, (hide spoiler)] even though Guy never agreed to this plan. Now he is pressuring Guy to do his part and eliminate Bruno’s Father. After this setup the film and the book are very different. The book delves into the conscience of Bruno and Guy and takes you into their heads. While at first interesting this became quite tedious.Then again it could be that I simply preferred Hitchcock’s adaptation.

  • Nandakishore Varma
    2019-03-10 05:50

    Warning: Mild spoilers ahead.As I have said earlier, it is a dicey affair to one-star a classic on GR. Some people may see it as blasphemy: and maybe, one can expect a lynch mob. But what to do? I did not like this book: could not bring myself to finish it even; so one-star is the only option.My only acquaintance with Patricia Highsmith before this novel was The Terrapin, a terrifying short story. So I was pretty sure I would like this novel, even though the story was familiar to me from Hitchcock's famous movie of the same name. I was prepared for some lack of suspense because I knew the story - but was not at all prepared for boredom, which is all the book gave me.The movie itself has plot holes - only to be expected in any Hitchcock film, as he himself touts his use of the MacGuffin - but the director always gets away with it because of his masterly handling of pace and suspense. Well, the book is even worse. IMO, the story itself is a huge plot hole. Two strangers, Guy Haines and Charlie Bruno casually meet on a train. Guy tells Bruno about his unfaithful wife, who wouldn't give him a divorce. The clearly deranged Bruno suggests that he kill Guy's wife, and Guy return the favour by killing his troublesome father: a sort of murder swap. He refuses the screwy offer, but Bruno goes ahead and carries out his part of the plan anyway - then begins dogging Guy's footsteps to carry out his part of the "bargain", and from there onwards it's a descent into darkness.The problem I had with this premise is the tenuousness of the case against Guy that Bruno could muster. It is true that he could cause some unpleasantness, but which court would convict a man based on the unsupported testimony of another, about an extremely dubious "contract", based on a drunken conversation in a train? And why doesn't Guy confide in Anne, his girlfriend, at the beginning itself? Can psychological guilt be so strong? For me, it was unbelievable.Also, I found the writing to be ponderous and a chore to get through. Deep psychological examination of the characters' mindset would have been fascinating in a serious work of literature: but in a suspense novel, it became tedious after a while. I got seriously fed up with Guy's ruminations.Maybe I'd have enjoyed the novel if I had come to it without expectations. Maybe I'd have enjoyed it if I had not seen the movie at all. Maybe.But I doubt it.

  • Maria (Big City Bookworm)
    2019-03-05 05:55

    3.5 starsStrangers on a Train is one of those novels that I constantly kept hearing about. I knew it was an older novel and that it is considered a classic thriller, but that was about the extent of my knowledge. It’s no secret that I love a good psychological thriller, but I’ve only read recent books from within this genre so I decided to broaden my range.Strangers on a Train tells the story of Charles Anthony Bruno and Guy Haines, two men that meet while they are on the same train. As the men start to get to know one another, and more alcoholic beverages are consumed, secrets start to come out. Guy reveals that he is angry with his ex-wife for sleeping with another man and becoming pregnant with his child. Bruno admits he hates his father immensely. That’s when Bruno comes up with an idea…what if he murdered Guy’s ex-wife and what if Guy were to murder Bruno’s father? Of course, Bruno was just joking around…wasn’t he?I enjoyed that the story alternated between both Guy & Bruno’s perspectives. It provided a pretty interesting and dynamic insight into how both men reacted differently to the same scenarios. Both men could not be more different from one another. On one hand, we have Guy, an architect who is pretty well-off thanks to his own professional success. He is set to be married again soon and his life seems well put together. Then we have Bruno, a younger man who comes from a rich family due to his father’s profession. He is whiny, and quite frankly, really annoying and almost conceited. He is spoiled and becomes upset when things don’t go his way. The narrator within this audiobook did a good job of changing his performance based on which character’s perspective he was reading from. While he was reading as Bruno, he would get extremely whiny and would yell a lot which was slightly unpleasant when listening through headphones.I was quite entertained while listening to this story and I was really excited to see how each character reacted to their decisions as the story continued. I really enjoyed listening to Strangers on a Train until about the last half hour or so. Things really slowed down and the last little chunk of the story almost felt unneeded. There was also a moment that felt very sudden and that wasn’t explained with a lot of detail. It kind of happened and that was that. Although the ending died down a little for me personally, I did like the last 5 minutes or so of the story…although it did leave me wanting a little more.Although Strangers on a Train was published back in 1950, it felt really modern and that it could still be relevant to psychological thriller fans today. I barely even realized that there was no mention of cellphones or the internet, the story and the writing style were that well done.I would recommend Strangers on a Train to those who like to read thrillers and mysteries. Strangers on a Train has a very film noir feel to it and if you are in to that style, this novel is perfect for you!--Initial Post Reading thoughts:I didn't really know much about Stranger on a Train before I jumped into it. I had heard of it before, but other than that, I didn't really do any research. I decided to listen to it as an audiobook through Audible and I found I really enjoyed reading it that way. The narration from the points of view of Bruno kind of bothered me. The narrator was very whiny and he raised his voice a lot when reading in Bruno's perspective and it kind of irritated me while listening with headphones. I found the last half hour or so of this story slowed down a lot and I became slightly bored. The last few minutes were pretty great though!

  • Catie
    2019-03-21 05:54

    Why is it so much easier to unburden yourself to a stranger? Is it that awareness of anonymity? Is it the knowledge that this person has no history, no preconceived notions upon which you might be judged? Whatever the underlying reason, I’ve always found this to be true. I’m pretty sure that the entire realm of internet communication is so prevalent in part because of this truth. In this unforgettable work, Patricia Highsmith examines the sinister outcome of a chance meeting, and a momentary intimacy, an unburdening of miseries between complete strangers. Guy Hanes and Charles Anthony Bruno share a compartment on a train. Guy is on his way to finalize his divorce as his wife now carries another man’s child. Charles is frustrated by his father’s seemingly tyrannical control of his mother’s life and finances. As the hours pass, the two men, loosened by alcohol, begin to share their miseries. These two men are inherently different, yet they become closely bound by the feelings shared within the space of a few hours, and by the terrible aftershocks of that meeting. The most intriguing part of this novel to me is the examination of these two men in parallel: their innate morals, their methods, and their coping mechanisms. Charles is a disturbed man with an Oedipus complex and a well of inferiority. He spends his hours planning scenarios for the perfect murder. As the months pass, he develops a sort of homoerotic fascination with Guy, but he can never truly connect with him like he wants to. Guy has a conscience, but he is constantly in conflict with himself. He hates Charles, but he feels a deep connection to him. He feels a massive amount of guilt that’s slowly driving him mad, but the next moment he is at peace and content.The writing is beautiful and intimate. We are allowed to go deeply into the minds of these men, and it is both frightening and highly compelling. Here is one of my favorite passages:“But love and hate, he thought now, good and evil, lived side by side in the human heart, and not merely in differing proportions in one man and the next but all good and all evil. One had merely to look for a little of either to find it all, one had merely to scratch the surface. All things had opposites close by, every decision a reason against it, every animal an animal that destroys it, the male, the female, the positive, the negative. The splitting of the atom was the only true destruction, the breaking of the universal law of oneness. Nothing could be without its opposite that was bound up with it. Could space exist in a building without objects that stopped it? Could energy exist without matter or matter without energy? Matter and energy, the inert and the active, once considered opposites, were now known to be one. And Bruno, he and Bruno. Each was what the other had not chosen to be, the cast-off self, what he thought he hated but perhaps in reality loved.I stumbled across Patricia Highsmith in a quest to find female authors of noir fiction. Noir has always seemed like a boys’ club to me, and I wondered what the female contribution to this genre had been, if any. I am so grateful to have come across this author. My edition contains a fascinating introduction to Patricia Highsmith, who was by all accounts an extremely focused and peculiar woman. She was fascinated by the darkness and evil inherent in human nature, and through her characters, she delved deeply into the human psyche. I will definitely be seeking out more from this author in the future.Perfect Musical PairingR.E.M. – Hollow ManMy daughter calls this song, “the fast and slow song,” because it is equal parts slow, melancholy reflection, and fast bouncy tune. This song is bipolar. The lyrics are decidedly dark, about a person losing himself, feeling hollow, and begging for someone to believe in him again.

  • ☮Karen
    2019-03-02 08:02

    Two men meet  on a train ride to Texas, worlds collide, and their lives  are changed forever.  Charles Bruno is a spoiled rich kid grown up now into a wealthy young man wanting more. The only path he can see to "more" is for his father to die. Bruno has never had a job and feels such a thing is not necessary for him.  He is a lazy, slovenly lush. Despicable.  Insane. And then some.Guy is the poor sap Bruno lays his murder  plot out on. Having learned that Guy is separated  from his wife, and that wife is carrying another man's child, Bruno decides she needs to die. Bruno is just the person to do it, in exchange for Guy murdering Bruno's  old man.  Neither would be suspected and both would have perfect alibis.  Guy does not agree and finds it all quite disturbing, but then Bruno takes things into his own hands.A very detailed psychological study, where you can't  help but get sucked up into the plot.  It dragged in a few spots where Guy goes inside his head and tries to imagine what he's  going to do about the changes in his life, about the Bruno problem. But this truly is a classic. It's been years--decades actually--since seeing Hitchcock 's take on this, so I can't say how they differ, but the surprise ending makes you gasp. I'm glad I had no memory of that while listening to this. As to the audio interpretation, another perfect narration by Bronson Pinchot, the reason I sought this out in the first place.

  • Melki
    2019-03-01 06:49

    A genius idea drowned in a soup of too many uninteresting characters. Most of the book could have been edited down to one taut, terrific short story.

  • Tara
    2019-03-11 00:51

    3.5 stars.

  • M.J. Johnson
    2019-03-15 04:44

    What an astounding first novel! This book is sixty-five years old but remains to this day a considerably shocking edge of the seat read. And I don’t mean that it contains graphic violence or gripping action sequences - not at all. This book is a psychological novel that gets deep under the skin of its two main characters. We plough straight into the story from page one; we’re suddenly there, in the train compartment where our strangers meet. Believe me, what ensues is increasingly tense and quite unnerving. The compulsive way this novel is written makes the reader feel like they too are trapped, just like the book’s main protagonist Guy Haines, in an unceasing nightmare. As trains are driven along an irrevocably permanent track, we its readers, often squirming with anticipation, observe two increasingly desperate men reach their inevitable destinations. As in The Talented Mr Ripley, Strangers on a Train has a strongly understated homo-erotic element lurking just underneath the story’s surface. I’m assuming this would have made the book unpublishable in 1950 if it had been more overtly stated. If you like exceedingly well-written, utterly compulsive and rather disturbing psychological novels/thrillers, then I can highly recommend this one.

  • The_Paperback_Peruser
    2019-03-20 08:56

    Now, you see, if you ask me to write a review on this book, I'm going to write it in relative to Hitchcock's infamous Strangers On A Train.(Brain: No one's askin' you, Pri!Me: ...Me: Shut up, Brain!)Leave it to Hitchcock to find such little gems, especially in their obscurity, while others deemed it to be "just a silly story". (Raymond Chandler's words, not mine!)Now, why am I talking about Hitchcock? It's because of him that I found this perfect embodiment of- what is popularly known as- psychological thrillers. Simply put- it contains everything you expect in this genre. A villain with little or no sense of normalcy? Check!; An actual crime? Check! Conflict of guilt? Double check! A turning point? CHECK CHECK all the fuckin' CHECKS!!*takes deep breaths**drinks water*Sorry, got a li'l excited back there! Anyway, let's get to the story. Bruno and Guy meet on a train, and Guy reluctantly shares about his dislike for his wife who- although, separated- is refusing to divorce him. And Bruno, with an ardor for crime fiction, divulges how much he dislikes his father, and he further imparts one of his schemes for a perfect murder(where, both swipe their respective victims so that no one will suspect their motive to the crime, and hence cannot be linked). Guy, who bears all the world's morals on his shoulders (Oh, Guy!), refuses to be pulled into it and leaves. And so the drama ensues.Well, you know how inevitable it is, that the morally rigid are the one who always break easily. You must dissect the characters when it comes to psychological dramasWhen you look at Bruno and Guy, you really begin to appreciate how- for the lack of a better word- jumbled Highsmith's characters are. Bruno has the emotional maturity of a five-year-old and criminal mentality of fifty. One who thinks everyone not in favor with his thoughts are the enemies(just like an adorable five year old), and yet, plans to murder them all the same. He hates his father, but there never is specific reason as to why. He claims his mother hates him, too, but, she never expresses her hate anywhere in the book. Clearly, it's all in his head.About Guy, now you might say, Guy?? Why Guy?? Guy is perfectly innocent!! But, is he, though? Do you think Guy's affinity towards Bruno- even though, he knows Bruno is a sociopath- is out of "innocence"?? Do you think his reason for his "deed" as self-defense is justified?? He is just as bad as Bruno. All that conflicts he faces when Bruno murders Miriam, do you think he kept quiet because he was afraid of Bruno?? Everything Bruno feels towards Guy, Guy feels it towards Bruno, too. This book is the mother of all homo-erotic subtexts(don't you get me started on that!!). He was equally selfish, he just didn't want to reciprocate!Not just the storyThere were some bits woven into the story that I found very amusing. For example, when Bruno muses over how he should "take a rocket to moon". This book was written in 1950, whereas, the Apollo 11 mission(the first time man landed on moon) happened in 1969(umm, if I'm not wrong). And the casual mention of Abortion. I liked how Guy didn't make a big fuss on when Miriam had her abortion. Neither did Bruno, when he found out. I liked how Guy is an architect, unlike in movie where he was a Tennis player. More believable. Glad, I'm not a stranger to this book anymore.

  • Steve
    2019-03-18 07:01

    2 bored stars.Buddy read with Kelly (and the Book Boar).This is the source material for the classic 1952 thriller of the same name in which director Alfred Hitchcock and script-writer Raymond Chandler greatly improved upon Patricia Highsmith’s first novel. I’m not sure what I was expecting, perhaps a lot more suspense and a lot more thrills, but not the back-and-forth banter, the dragging on and on and on with the exceedingly weird, almost perverse, relationship between Guy and Bruno. This was like watching a tennis match in which nothing exciting ever happens.I couldn’t sympathize with any of the characters. Aspiring architect Guy was too passive, too spineless, and simply too much of a whiner. Wealthy alcoholic Bruno was the complete opposite, but had no redeeming qualities whatsoever as we read about (and read his thoughts) in his desire to commit the perfect murder (Guy’s estranged wife) while having Guy commit one (Bruno’s father), too.Overall, this book left me sort of flat, though it was interesting in the fact that Hitchcock was able to create one of his classic films out of this book.

  • Isidora
    2019-02-21 02:50

    It is one of those books where the writer brings the reader inside of the characters’ minds very quickly. The picture there is not a pleasant one. The two strangers who accidentally meet on a train one night, Charles Bruno and Guy Haines (I believe the plot is well- known, if not from the novel, then from the Hitchcock’s film), are both conflicted personalities, although it seems from the start that it is only Bruno who is a disturbed man. As the story progresses, it becomes more obvious that Guy is facing his dark side as well (feeling guilty is his mantra), bringing us to the disturbing hypothesis that any kind of person, any guy, can murder. I do hope that it is not true. On the contrary, I can easily accept another quote from the book: “Logic doesn’t work out, so far as people go.” I just love the writing. It is clear, beautiful and insightful. This was the first novel of Patricia Highsmith, yet with it she set the high standards in the genre. I can hardly think of any other writer that describes guilt and atonement in the more tense and disturbing way (right, if we agree to draw “Crime and punishment” in the competition, then “Strangers on a train” wins the silver medal). You see, I can’t say enough good things about this book and would like to recommend it for all who like well-written psychological thrillers.

  • Leslie
    2019-02-26 07:01

    This was another fun airport read because it is all about the perils of oversharing with strangers on public transportation. This is like literary B.O. for travelers, I'm sure. If only I had a Team Bruno shirt to don (and sully with literary b.o. pit stains!) in the air.This book explores a nightmarish scenario: you wind up sitting next to a creep who'll ply you with scotch, force you into the confession zone and try to seduce you into a murder pact (e.g., you bump off my father and I'll make worm food of your pesky wife) and then he misreads your reticence as consent. Whoopsie! Next he'll threaten you with blackmail when you spurn him and insist on repeat that you're The One. Voila! Strangers on a Train! Despite falling into the familiar "I'm a gay killer who is a misogynist because no lady can ever compare to my mother" cliche, Bruno is ultra-compelling. At the very least, read the titillating carnival scenes in Chapter 12--they get a ten on on a scale of one to ten in which one is not creepy and ten is exceedingly creepy. There's some very brainy stuff around guilt and atonement here if you, as I am, are into that sort of thing.

  • Faith
    2019-03-11 03:55

    I've liked other Highsmith books more than I liked this one, but I still thought this book was good, although some parts of it definitely could have been shortened. I listened to the audiobook and that may be why my chief impression of Bruno is that he was a whiny, self-pitying drunk. Maybe the narrator did too good a job. Bruno was nothing like the charismatic sociopath that Highsmith created in her Ripley series. I saw the movie based on this book eons ago and all I remember is that both actors were extraordinarily handsome, so I have no idea how closely the movie followed the book. The book is worth reading, but if you're new to Highsmith I would recommend starting with "The Talented Mr. Ripley".

  • Sheila Beaumont
    2019-03-21 02:54

    I was mesmerized by this creepy, suspenseful story of a sociopath (Bruno) and how he gets a fellow train passenger (Guy) to swap murders with him, i.e., each will kill a person the other would like out of his life, so there will be no apparent motive for the murders.After reading this novel, I watched the Hitchcock movie based on it. I don't want to introduce any spoilers, so I'll just say that in the book, I didn't find what Guy did credible. The movie was more believable in this respect, and for me it had a more satisfactory ending. But the book was well worth reading for a chilling, menacing portrait of a twisted psychopath and how he goes about manipulating others into doing his bidding.

  • Lesley
    2019-03-17 08:38

    I loved this sinister tale!

  • Sara
    2019-03-06 07:01

    This is one of those books that lingers. You finish it and you realize that what might have seemed like a simple whodunnit on the surface really had quite a bit more to say than you anticipated. Don't get me wrong Patricia Highsmith turned out quite the classic thriller with this book, Alfred Hitchcock clearly thought so anyway. But there was so very much more here.Two men meet on a train. Total strangers who slowly realize they're each caught in similar no win situations. One is the Ne'er–do–well son of a wealthy business man tied to his father's purse strings and the other an up and coming architect trapped in a marriage to a woman pregnant with another man's child. Over dinner the son proposes a deadly trade. He'll kill the architect's wife if the architect will do in his dad. It's the perfect crime. They're strangers to each other and no one will ever be able to connect them. Their problems will be solved.Of course nothing is ever that simple where murder is concerned. But Highsmith takes everything a bit deeper for her two characters as their relationship slips deeper and deeper down into something that becomes far murkier then hate or love.This book preceded Ms. Highmith's The Talented Mr. Ripley series and its hard not to see both these characters as almost prototypes for one of the most well known literary psychopaths and his first victim.(view spoiler)[Bruno, the sociopathic son, reminded me of a grown up Holden Caulfield. Nothing holds his interest and everyone he encounters is a phoney until he meets Guy, the architect unable to cut his wife loose. Guy seems to awaken something in Bruno. For the first time he becomes engaged with another person and by extension the world and perhaps because its the first time and is such an unfamiliar feeling he becomes obsessed. Even when their business is concluded Bruno can't bear to be separated from Guy and the level of his frightening devotion mirrors almost exactly Ripley's obsession with Dickie Greenleaf. He wants Guy to the point where he literally wants to become him. The act of killing Guy's wife almost seems to be an attempt to rid himself of this wanting he's become consumed by. As if killing her will extinguish Guy from his life. When that doesn't work he becomes obsessed with making Guy do the same thing so they can be equals, together in a sense. I almost wanted to sympathize with someone who would, given the time in which he lived, have been almost entirely unable to even consider what his feelings and attraction might mean.What fascinated me was how utterly unlikable Guy actually is. I kept thinking "dishrag" the entire time I was reading the book. He's a man completely incapable of making decisions. He can't even bring himself to divorce the wife who has cheated on him with innumerable men from day one of their marriage because it would require too much effort, it would force him to do something. Everything in his life happens around him. He has a few interactions with his mother who he still call's "mama" and even the woman he's fallen in love with an intends to marry becomes continually exasperated with his never ending whining and hand ringing declaring that she wishes he would "just grow up."When he finally does do something it's committing a murder. Driven nearly insane by Bruno's constant presence and insinuation that he will ruin Guy if he doesn't go through with his half of the deal Guy messily murders Bruno's father. Predictably he becomes consumed with guilt. The one decision he finally makes in his life, the one action he finally takes destroys him even as everything else begins to work out for him. He doesn't quite share Bruno's obsessive attraction but when Bruno drown's in the final chapters his crazed efforts to save him certainly put a new slant on the relationship. He nearly drowns himself in the effort to save Bruno and with his death seems to lose all interest in anything except paying for his crime.Highsmith really does seem to be making just as much of a statement about repressed sexual desires as she is telling a really good murder mystery and that makes sense given her own life experience. I was totally fascinated by the relationship between her two killers and just as interested in what made them tick as I was in what they'd done. (hide spoiler)]This was an excellent read that only lacks a star because of my personal feelings about its main characters. I just HATED these guys. I know that's a little unfair because the level of my hatred only reflects on how well crafted they are but they really just that awful.

  • Shawn Mooney
    2019-03-11 00:51

    Some decent prose aside, I detested this novel so intensely—its eye-rollingly predictable plot, a short story's worth stretched thin and ponderous—that by the end I was considering approaching indiscriminately homicidal strangers on the train myself, begging them to please please please put me out of my misery.