Saturday, August 1, 2015

Five old-school thrillers that would be hits today

Jeff Somers is the author of Lifers, the Avery Cates series from Orbit Books, Chum from Tyrus Books, and We Are Not Good People from Pocket/Gallery. He has published over thirty short stories as well.

At B & N Reads Somers tagged five timeless old-school thrillers, including:
Strangers on a Train, by Patricia Highsmith

Perhaps one of the most brilliant setups in thriller history, you can find elements of Strangers on a Train in plenty of modern books—but there’s only one original. An unhappy man wants to be rid of his wife, an unbalanced heir wants to be rid of his father. When they meet and exchange their stories, they agree to “trade” murders, committing crimes they have no motive for. That’s brilliant enough, and remains brilliant no matter how many years go by. Highsmith ups the ante when the husband fails to take the conversation seriously—and then fails to go to the authorities when his wife is killed and his friend from the train starts to press him to keep his side of the bargain. The pressure mounts as Highsmith pursues one of her favorite themes: people becoming linked irrevocably to others they neither control nor understand. The reader is left wondering at the power of idle chat with the wrong person, an element of paranoid chaos that is just as powerful today as it was decades ago.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Strangers on a Train is on Stella Gonet's six best best books, Lars Iyer's top ten list of literary frenemies, and John Mullan's list of ten of the best railway journeys in literature.

--Marshal Zeringue