"If I really don't like somebody, I kill him.... You remember Malcolm McRae, don't you?"
Melinda Van Allen is beautiful, headstrong and sexy. Unfortunately for Vic Van Allen, she is his wife. Their love has soured, and Melinda takes pleasure in flaunting her many affairs to her husband. When one of her lovers is murdered, Vic hints to her latest conquest that he was responsible. As rumours spread about Vic's vicious streak, fiction and reality start to converge. It's only a matter of time before Vic really does have blood on his hands.
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If Carlsberg did Thrillers
...they'd probably write thrillers like this. This isn't a whodunit or even a whydunnit. It's more of a howdunnit. Nobody does the IKEA flat pack assembly instructions of a murder - usually of someone rather unlikable - better than Highsmith. Few writers can, with a surer hand, sketch the arc of relationships fraying and tearing, or better show how oddness or eccentricity with the slightest of pushes, can turn to madness or evil. This book is gripping and in the last chapter almost as horrific as the story of a real murder. We grow so involved with all of the characters involved: killer, prey, cats-paw, child, a puppy playfully gamboling around a scene of brutality, self-righteous enablers and innocent friends offstage. Yet she can be so funny and of course cutting while she's being funny. Of one character she writes, "He looked as if he had spent all his life dodging blows that were probably aimed at him for good reason." I'm stopping here to order my next Patricia Highsmith, which will probably be The Price of Salt/Carol.