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Set in Tunisia in the mid-1960s, this is the story of Howard Ingham, an American writer who has gone abroad to gather material for a movie too sordid to be set in America. Ingham is cool toward the girlfriend he left behind in New York—but his feelings start to change when she doesn’t answer his increasingly aggravated letters, and the filmmaker who hired Ingham fails to show in Tunisia.
Amid the tea shops and alleys of the souk, the sun-blasted architecture, and the beaches and hotels frequented by international tourists, Ingham tries to pass the time by working on a writing project. But a series of peculiar events—a hushed-up murder, a vanished corpse, secret broadcasts to the Soviet Union—will pull him in, and may finally put his increasingly fragile sense of morality to the test.
“Highsmith’s finest novel.” —Graham Greene, author of The Quiet American
“Her books have stylistic texture, psychological depth, mesmeric readability.” —The Sunday Times
For two years, Walter Stackhouse has been a faithful and supportive husband to his wife, Clara. She is distant and neurotic, and Walter finds himself harboring gruesome fantasies about her demise. When Clara's dead body turns up at the bottom of a cliff in a manner uncannily resembling the recent death of a woman named Helen Kimmel who was murdered by her husband, Walter finds himself under intense scrutiny. He commits several blunders that claim his career and his reputation, cost him his friends, and eventually threaten his life. The Blunderer examines the dark obsessions that lie beneath the surface of seemingly ordinary people. With unerring psychological insight, Patricia Highsmith portrays characters who cross the precarious line separating fantasy from reality.
In a grubby Athens hotel, Rydal Keener is bored and killing time with petty scams. But when he runs into another American, Chester MacFarland, dragging a man’s body down the hotel hall, Rydan impulsively agrees to help, perhaps because Chester looks like his father.
Then Rydal meets Collete, Chester’s younger wife, and captivated, becomes entangled in their sordid lives, as the drama marches to a shocking climax at the ruins of the labyrinth at Knossos.
A winner of a Crime Writers of America award, The Two Faces of January was the basis of a film starring Viggo Mortensen, Kirsten Dunst, and Oscar Isaac.
“An offbeat, provocative and absorbing suspense novel.” —The New York Times
“Patricia Highsmith is one of the few suspense writers whose work transcends genre.” —The Austin American-Statesman
Twisting in a limbo of tension and doubt, Ramón and Theodore seize on a third man, a thief seen at Lelia’s apartment, and their hunt takes them from Mexico City to sun-drenched Acapulco, and to a small colonial mountain town. A thrilling, psychologically complex novel, rich with setting, A Game for the Living is Highsmith at her best.
A 2010 New York Times Notable Book
A 2010 Lambda Literary Award Winner
A 2009 Edgar Award Nominee
A 2009 Agatha Award Nominee
A Publishers Weekly Pick of the Week
Patricia Highsmith, one of the great writers of twentieth-century American fiction, had a life as darkly compelling as that of her favorite "hero-criminal," the talented Tom Ripley. Joan Schenkar maps out this richly bizarre life from her birth in Texas to Hitchcock's filming of her first novel, Strangers on a Train, to her long, strange self-exile in Europe. We see her as a secret writer for the comics, a brilliant creator of disturbing fictions, and an erotic predator with dozens of women (and a few good men) on her love list. The Talented Miss Highsmith is the first literary biography with access to Highsmith's whole story: her closest friends, her oeuvre, her archives. It's a compulsive page-turner unlike any other, a book worthy of Highsmith herself.
These ten stories chronicle a world gone slightly mad, with dark, inventive takes on environmental degradation, apocalyptic disaster, political chaos, religious conservatism, and more.
From a winner of both an O. Henry Award and a Silver Dagger Award, among other honors, and the author of Strangers on a Train, the basis for the classic Hitchcock film, this collection of short fiction is filled with “afterimages that will tremble—but stay—in our minds” (The New Yorker).
“Whereas we read Stephen King or Ruth Rendell to relish the thrills that come from carefully controlled verbal terror, Highsmith is not to be taken so lightly. She conveys a firm, unshakable belief in the existence of evil—personal, psychological, and political. . . . The genius of Tales—and all of Highsmith’s writing—is that it is at once deeply disturbing and exhilarating.” —Boston Phoenix
“Combining the best features of the suspense genre with the best of existential fiction . . . The stories are fabulous, in all senses of that word.” —Paul Theroux
They’re thieves. Heisters, to be precise. They’re pros, and Parker is far and away the best of them. If you’re planning a job, you want him in. Tough, smart, hardworking, and relentlessly focused on his trade, he is the heister’s heister, the robber’s robber, the heavy’s heavy. You don’t want to cross him, and you don’t want to get in his way, because he’ll stop at nothing to get what he’s after.
Parker, the ruthless antihero of Richard Stark’s eponymous mystery novels, is one of the most unforgettable characters in hardboiled noir. Lauded by critics for his taut realism, unapologetic amorality, and razor-sharp prose-style—and adored by fans who turn each intoxicating page with increasing urgency—Stark is a master of crime writing, his books as influential as any in the genre. The University of Chicago Press has embarked on a project to return the early volumes of this series to print for a new generation of readers to discover—and become addicted to. Parker goes under the knife in The Man with the Getaway Face, changing his face to escape the mob and a contract on his life. Along the way he scores his biggest heist yet: an armored car in New Jersey, stuffed with cash.
“Westlake knows precisely how to grab a reader, draw him or her into the story, and then slowly tighten his grip until escape is impossible.”—Washington Post Book World
“Elmore Leonard wouldn’t write what he does if Stark hadn’t been there before. And Quentin Tarantino wouldn’t write what he does without Leonard. . . . Old master that he is, Stark does all of them one better.”—Los Angeles Times
“Donald Westlake’s Parker novels are among the small number of books I read over and over. Forget all that crap you’ve been telling yourself about War and Peace and Proust—these are the books you’ll want on that desert island.”—Lawrence Block
A treasure worth killing for. Sam Spade, a slightly shopworn private eye with his own solitary code of ethics. A perfumed grafter named Joel Cairo, a fat man name Gutman, and Brigid O’Shaughnessy, a beautiful and treacherous woman whose loyalties shift at the drop of a dime. These are the ingredients of Dashiell Hammett's iconic, influential, and beloved The Maltese Falcon.
In The Lady in the Lake, hardboiled crime fiction master Raymond Chandler brings us the story of a couple of missing wives—one a rich man's and one a poor man's—who have become the objects of Philip Marlowe's investigation. One of them may have gotten a Mexican divorce and married a gigolo and the other may be dead. Marlowe's not sure he cares about either one, but he's not paid to care.
“The murderer is with us—on the train now . . .”
Just after midnight, the famous Orient Express is stopped in its tracks by a snowdrift. By morning, the millionaire Samuel Edward Ratchett lies dead in his compartment, stabbed a dozen times, his door locked from the inside. Without a shred of doubt, one of his fellow passengers is the murderer.
Isolated by the storm, detective Hercule Poirot must find the killer among a dozen of the dead man's enemies, before the murderer decides to strike again.
“What more . . . can a mystery addict desire?”—New York Times
In noir master Raymond Chandler's The Long Goodbye, Philip Marlowe befriends a down on his luck war veteran with the scars to prove it. Then he finds out that Terry Lennox has a very wealthy nymphomaniac wife, whom he divorced and remarried and who ends up dead. And now Lennox is on the lam and the cops and a crazy gangster are after Marlowe.
The year is 1327. Franciscans in a wealthy Italian abbey are suspected of heresy, and Brother William of Baskerville arrives to investigate. When his delicate mission is suddenly overshadowed by seven bizarre deaths, Brother William turns detective. His tools are the logic of Aristotle, the theology of Aquinas, the empirical insights of Roger Bacon—all sharpened to a glistening edge by wry humor and a ferocious curiosity. He collects evidence, deciphers secret symbols and coded manuscripts, and digs into the eerie labyrinth of the abbey, where “the most interesting things happen at night.”
“Like the labyrinthine library at its heart, this brilliant novel has many cunning passages and secret chambers . . . Fascinating . . . ingenious . . . dazzling.” – Newsweek
The Handmaid’s Tale is a novel of such power that the reader will be unable to forget its images and its forecast. Set in the near future, it describes life in what was once the United States and is now called the Republic of Gilead, a monotheocracy that has reacted to social unrest and a sharply declining birthrate by reverting to, and going beyond, the repressive intolerance of the original Puritans. The regime takes the Book of Genesis absolutely at its word, with bizarre consequences for the women and men in its population.
The story is told through the eyes of Offred, one of the unfortunate Handmaids under the new social order. In condensed but eloquent prose, by turns cool-eyed, tender, despairing, passionate, and wry, she reveals to us the dark corners behind the establishment’s calm facade, as certain tendencies now in existence are carried to their logical conclusions. The Handmaid’s Tale is funny, unexpected, horrifying, and altogether convincing. It is at once scathing satire, dire warning, and a tour de force. It is Margaret Atwood at her best.
Nominated as one of America’s best-loved novels by PBS’s The Great American Read.
The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s third book, stands as the supreme achievement of his career. First published in 1925, this quintessential novel of the Jazz Age has been acclaimed by generations of readers. The story of the mysteriously wealthy Jay Gatsby and his love for the beautiful Daisy Buchanan, of lavish parties on Long Island at a time when The New York Times noted “gin was the national drink and sex the national obsession,” it is an exquisitely crafted tale of America in the 1920s.
Since his debut in 1955, Tom Ripley has evolved into the ultimate bad boy sociopath. Here, in the first Ripley novel, we are introduced to suave Tom Ripley, a young striver, newly arrived in the heady world of Manhattan. A product of a broken home, branded a "sissy" by his dismissive Aunt Dottie, Ripley meets a wealthy industrialist who hires him to bring his playboy son, Dickie Greenleaf, back from gallivanting in Italy. Soon Ripley's fascination with Dickie's debonair lifestyle turns obsessive as he finds himself enraged by Dickie's ambivalent affections for Marge, a charming American dilettante. A dark reworking of Henry James's The Ambassadors, The Talented Mr. Ripley serves as an unforgettable introduction to this smooth confidence man, whose talent for murder and self-invention is chronicled in four subsequent Ripley novels.
Living on his posh French estate with his elegant heiress wife, Tom Ripley, on the cusp of middle age, is no longer the striving comer of The Talented Mr. Ripley. Having accrued considerable wealth through a long career of crime—forgery, extortion, serial murder—Ripley still finds his appetite unquenched and longs to get back in the game.
In Ripley's Game, first published in 1974, Patricia Highsmith's classic chameleon relishes the opportunity to simultaneously repay an insult and help a friend commit a crime—and escape the doldrums of his idyllic retirement. This third novel in Highsmith's series is one of her most psychologically nuanced—particularly memorable for its dark, absurd humor—and was hailed by critics for its ability to manipulate the tropes of the genre. With the creation of Ripley, one of literature's most seductive sociopaths, Highsmith anticipated the likes of Norman Bates and Hannibal Lecter years before their appearance.
The Boy Who Followed Ripley, the fourth novel in the Ripley series, is one of Patricia Highsmith's darkest and most twisted creations. Tom Ripley meets a young American runaway who has a dark secret that he is desperate to hide. Soon this unlikely pair is drawn into the seamy underworld of Berlin and a shocking kidnapping. In this masterful thriller, Highsmith shatters our perceptions of her most famous creation by letting us glimpse a more compassionate side of this amoral charmer.
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, 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.
Vic and Melinda Van Allen's loveless marriage is held together only by a precarious arrangement whereby, in order to avoid the messiness of divorce, Melinda is allowed to take any number of lovers as long as she does not desert her family. Eventually, Vic can no longer suppress his jealousy and tries to win back his wife by asserting himself through a tall tale of murder—one that soon comes true. In this complex portrayal of a dangerous psychosis emerging in the most unlikely of places, Highsmith examines the chilling reality behind the idyllic facade of American suburban life.
David Kelsey, a young scientist, has an unyielding conviction that life will turn out all right for him; he just has to fix the Situation: he is in love with a married woman. Obsessed with Annabelle and the life he has imagined for them—including the fully furnished cabin he maintains for her—David prepares to win her over, whatever it takes. In this riveting tale of a deluded loner, Highsmith reveals her uncanny ability to draw out the secret obsessions that overwhelm the human heart.
With an eerie simplicity of style, Highsmith turns our next-door neighbors into sadistic psychopaths, lying in wait among white picket fences and manicured lawns. In the darkly satiric, often mordantly hilarious sketches that make up Little Tales of Misogyny, Highsmith upsets our conventional notions of female character, revealing the devastating power of these once familiar creatures—"The Dancer," "The Female Novelist," "The Prude"—who destroy both themselves and the men around them. This work attests to Highsmith's reputation as "the poet of apprehension" (Graham Greene).
Slowly, Slowly in the Wind brilliantly assembles many of Patricia Highsmith's most nuanced and psychologically suspenseful works. Rarely has an author articulated so well the hypocrisies of the Catholic Church while conveying the delusions of a writer's life and undermining the fantasy of suburban bliss. Each of these twelve pieces, like all great short fiction, is a crystal-clear snapshot of lives both static and full of chaos. In "The Pond" Highsmith explores the unforeseen calamities that can unalterably shatter a single woman's life, while "The Network" finds sinister loneliness and joy in the mundane yet engrossing friendships of a small community of urban dwellers. In this enduring and disturbing collection, Highsmith evokes the gravity and horror of her characters' surroundings with evenhanded prose and a detailed imagination.
Patricia Highsmith's story of romantic obsession may be one of the most important, but still largely unrecognized, novels of the twentieth century. First published in 1952 and touted as "the novel of a love that society forbids," the book soon became a cult classic.
Based on a true story plucked from Highsmith's own life, Carol tells the riveting drama of Therese Belivet, a stage designer trapped in a department-store day job, whose routine is forever shattered by a gorgeous epiphany—the appearance of Carol Aird, a customer who comes in to buy her daughter a Christmas toy. Therese begins to gravitate toward the alluring suburban housewife, who is trapped in a marriage as stultifying as Therese's job. They fall in love and set out across the United States, ensnared by society's confines and the imminent disapproval of others, yet propelled by their infatuation. Carol is a brilliantly written story that may surprise Highsmith fans and will delight those discovering her work.
Therese is nineteen and working in a department store during the Christmas shopping season. She dates men, although not with real enthusiasm. One day a beautiful older woman comes over to her counter and buys a doll. As the purchase is a C.O.D. order, Therese makes a mental note of the customer’s address. She is intrigued and drawn to the woman. Although young, inexperienced and shy, she writes a note to the customer, Carol, and is elated and surprised when Carol invites her to meet.
Therese realizes she has strong feelings for Carol, but is unsure of what they represent. Carol, in the process of a bitter separation and divorce, is also quite lonely. Soon the two women begin spending a great deal of time together. Before long, they are madly and hopelessly in love. The path is not easy for them, however. Carol also has a child and a very suspicious husband--dangerous ground for the lovers. When the women leave New York and travel west together, they discover the choices they’ve made to be together will have lasting effects on both their lives.
Considered to be the first lesbian pulp novel to break the pulp publishing industry-enforced pattern of tragic consequences for its lesbian heroines, The Price of Salt was written by Patricia Highsmith (under the pseudonym, Claire Morgan) – the author of Strangers on a Train and The Talented Mr. Ripley.
As one reviewer wrote in 1952, “Claire Morgan is completely natural. She has a story to tell and she tells it with an almost conversational ease. Her people are neither degenerate monsters nor fragile victims of the social order. They must—and do—pay a price for thinking, feeling and loving ‘differently,’ but they are courageous and true to themselves throughout.”
Nowhere is Patricia Highsmith's affinity for animals more apparent than in The Animal-Lover's Book of Beastly Murder, for here she transfers the murderous thoughts and rages most associated with humans onto the animals themselves. You will meet, for example, in "In the Dead of Truffle Season," a truffle-hunting pig who tries to whet his own appetite for a while; or Jumbo in "Chorus Girl's Absolutely Final Performance," a lonely, old circus elephant who decides she's had enough of show business and cruel trainers for one lifetime. In this satirical reprise of Kafka, cats, dogs, and breeding rodents are no longer ordinary beings in the happy home, but actually have the power to destroy the world in which we live.