If you’ve never read a Patricia Highsmith novel then you need to re-prioritize your life. And if you’re looking for additional advice, you need to add Snoop Dogg on Snapchat.

I haven’t seen Hitchcock’s version of Strangers on a Train but even if you have I recommend reading the book as I’ve heard there are lots of differences. Regardless I always love a good mystery so I was excited to get my hand on this.

SOAT

Strangers on a Train book cover

The premise of the story itself is pretty easy to guess based on the title, two strangers do in fact meet on a train. After that it gets a bit more complex; Bruno really hates his father and would like his new friend Guy to murder him. He even offers to murder Guy’s estranged wife and because they don’t know each other outside of the train it’ll be the perfect crime. Guy says “nah fam, you’re drunk” and goes back to his car. SPOILER ALERT.  Bruno decides to murder the wife any way and then stalks Guy until the favor is returned.

Moral of the story, don’t talk to strangers.

I’m a fan of this book’s overall style. You can tell which era it’s from but it’s intriguing instead of annoying.  I do wish it weren’t always so short and there were a few more details but that’s a preference, not a critique. The writing was also effective in that I was able to feel the long, slow, torturous stalking just by reading. Additionally the characters were interesting and the ending was good. Mostly my praise for this novel is in reference to the plot itself.

I thought it was genius. Such an innocent thing, to ride a train (cough cough Paula Hawkins) but here that chance meeting essentially ruins Guy’s life. He admits he’s been extremely angry before but he doesn’t think he could ever murder someone. Until he’s driven almost mad and then we see a bit of a transformation in him. But even when he finally does go after Bruno’s father it’s like an out of body experience.

And besides “Bruno made him do it.” And Bruno himself seemed to be an actual psychopath. It was fascinating to see it unfold from a psychological perspective. And there was enough suspense that every time the phone rang I felt myself get a little tense knowing Bruno was on the other end. True, the section between Guy’s murder and the end did stretch a bit long. But the ending was good enough that I’m willing to over look it.

Conclusion:

If you haven’t read it, I would definitely recommend. It’s a captivating story that shows a lot about true human nature. And if you’re really into it, I would recommend listening to Twenty One Pilots “Heathens” on repeat because how perfect is that.