Thomas Ripley is a petulant, emotionally stunted young man with a victim mentality, a colossal inferiority complex, and uncontrollable feelings of resentment and envy. He’s not likable, but Patricia Highsmith writes well enough to make you understand and even identify with his feelings, and to make you care what happens to him. Though the novel is narrated in third person, Ripley’s undulating moods color the description of every scene and character.
In Patricia Highsmith’s first novel, architect Guy Haines meets psychopath Charles Bruno on a train to Texas. Bruno isn’t the kind of lunatic who instantly terrifies people. He just comes off as a little odd at first. In the course of a long conversation on the train, Guy reveals his troubles with his estranged wife, and Bruno discusses his hatred of his father. Bruno likes to read detective novels, and he mentions, off-hand at first, how it would be the perfect crime if two strangers who met on a train were to exchange murders.
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