A Dog's Ransom - Patricia Highsmith

‘Oh, the hell with the money,’ Ed said. He was thinking what a disgusting city New York really was. You had to rub elbows, you did rub elbows with creeps like this one every day of the week, every time you rode a bus or a subway. They looked like ordinary people but they were creeps.

This is the premise of many a good Highsmith thriller, and it really is what is so scary about them – this could be true.

I looked forward to reading A Dog’s Ransom, not just because buddy reads with Lillelara are always fun but also because I knew absolutely nothing of the book, which is generally a great way to experience Highsmith – just go with the story and see where the mess becomes so entangled that you can’t but keep reading.

And it was the same with A Dog’s Ransom – we learn from the very first page that something is not right when a nice New York couple receives threatening letters.

Shortly after, the story escalates when their dog goes missing and the story swings into full action.

We meet several other characters, and it actually takes a while to figure out which characters will be the reliable ones and which will be completely bonkers.

With this one, there was more of a sad and creepy edge to the story than with some other Highsmith books, and I cannot put my finger on it, but the characters and story just didn’t work as well. Yes, the main characters were complete psychopaths, but the dark, sad, and terrifying aspect in this story was that they – even when open about their deeds – were not  held accountable by the other characters. It was hugely disturbing, and yet the story moved at a pace that did not support the character development, and in the end I just wanted the book to be finished.

I still feel raw about the dog.

Not one of Highsmith’s best.


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