Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Books: "Deep Water", A Novel by Patricia Highsmith, 1957

Returning to Patricia Highsmith is always such a pleasure. And this novel in particular is such a delightful, despite late, "discovery" (thanks to Gillian Flynn.) A suburban marital thriller plays out like a magnificent war of the sexes tragedy where no extreme is incredible. The wife is pushing all the buttons, the husband is taking all the imaginable abuse, and then punishing her by killing others. The killer is both sympathetic and sociopathic. The wife is not a victim, she playfully and spitefully explores the boundaries of someones submission. And despite some critical opinion, this is not a "loveless" marriage that both characters are trapped in. A fatal marriage never is. One of the characters, in this case the man, is pathologically in love. And he is quietly destroying both -- himself and Her -- one chilling murder after another. Immediately after the second murder, Vic Van Allen, goes to a school concert to hear their daughter sing. He hands in his ticket at the entrance and the ticket says "Admit two". Highsmith's sense of humor is superb - it never fails to bring chills in the appreciating reader.

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