By Patricia Highsmith. I finished this novel today for one of my book clubs. It was OK, interesting premise, but no characters to root for, not even a fun bad guy, just a slog toward the inevitable. Don’t really understand why a few pages contained sloppy typos; that was an unsolved mystery. Nevertheless there were several chewy philosophical meanderings that saved the book for me, such as the following…
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. [page 180]
However I’m not sure I agree with the premise the novel hinges on to begin with: that a murderous psycho can find a kindred soul pretty easily. But we don’t really know until we’re tested, do we? I mean, have you ever been hounded and blackmailed by a lunatic for months on end until you can’t function? No? So, you can’t say what you won’t do, ooh.
Except there was always the option of going to the cops. (Which would have wrecked the whole book.) Highsmith weakly covers why the second man, who does have a conscience, didn’t go to the police instead of following along, but I didn’t find it compelling enough.
We have to watch out for that in romance writing as well — the convoluted plot that could have been resolved halfway through by one of the protags asking a simple question or taking a reasonable action. But, OK, this second Train dude is supposed to be slimy, not a hero, so that’s different. I guess.
Anyway, it’s good for me to read out of genre, not that I’ll probably pick up another Highsmith novel after this (though I bet Hitchcock did a fine job on the film). I’m looking forward to the meeting at the end of the month.