In the geography of crime fiction works of the late Patricia Highsmith are one of the peaks. He cool prose is the perfect form for stories in which character, plot intention are inextricably entwined, and which betray a fascination with violence, real and threatening. She is a fastidiously honest, often unconvertible writer who does not pass facile judgements on her characters. Her first novel, Strangers on a Train, filmed by Hitchcock, was the story of chance-met travellers agreeing to commit murder for each other. In 1957 she published The Talented Mr Ripley, the first of a series about an amiable American who will cheat, and even kill, to suit his convenience. Her work, especially the Ripley books, has spawned many imitators.
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