April 13, 2005 12:50 PM   Subscribe

I have read Patricia Highsmith's entire ouvre, and now I'm hungry for more. Does anyone know of other mystery writers that would appeal to fans of Highsmith?
posted by jgballard to Media & Arts (8 answers total)
Daphne du Marier! Especially Rebecca.
posted by agropyron at 1:11 PM on April 13, 2005

Not sure how much Daphne has in common with Patty. Mr. Ballard, what is it you like about Highsmith's work--the psychological tension? The venality of most of her characters? For the former, try Cornell Woolrich. For the latter, try Jim Thompson.
posted by scratch at 1:37 PM on April 13, 2005

Not sure how much Daphne has in common with Patty.

* Psychological drama
* Twisted, evil characters
* Mystery-ish plots
* Unconventional

Sure, Rebecca is not Talented Mrs. Ripley, but I felt they were in the same vein, and worth a mention.
posted by agropyron at 1:48 PM on April 13, 2005

Minette Walters, possibly?
She doesn't have quite the same simplicity and cynicism, but it's the closest thing I can think of offhand.
I'd recommend her earlier books, like The Sculptress or The Scold's Bridle.
posted by exceptinsects at 1:57 PM on April 13, 2005

I have only a very little to add here, but add it I will:

My wife and I both love the film version of Rebecca. My wife loves it so much that she read the book, and she loved that. Then she tried more du Maurier, and she hated it.

I've been meaning to read Highsmith myself, but never get around to it...
posted by jdroth at 2:01 PM on April 13, 2005

Not sure how much Daphne has in common with Patty.

Both were also adapted by Alfred Hitchcock.
posted by SoftRain at 6:05 PM on April 13, 2005

Ann Rule, which is true crime, but similarly psychological.
posted by dydecker at 6:53 PM on April 13, 2005

Ira Levin comes to mind as a writer whose best works, like Highsmith's, are located on the boundary between thriller and horror. You might try Levin's first novel, A Kiss Before Dying (1954), which is very Highsmithian.

I expect you've read Donna Tartt's The Secret History -- hasn't everyone? -- but if not, I strongly recommend it. Again it has a very Highsmithian feel to it.

For me, Ruth Rendell (aka Barbara Vine) is the reigning queen of the psychological thriller. I have enthused about her before, in a previous AskMeFi thread, so I won't repeat myself here, except to suggest that you start by reading some of her novels from the late 1970s / early 1980s (my personal favourite is The Lake of Darkness), and then move on to the more ambitious Barbara Vine novels from the late 1980s (e.g. A Dark-Adapted Eye, A Fatal Inversion) where you can watch her developing the art of suspense. (Avoid the Inspector Wexford novels, which are more mainstream detective novels with less psychological depth.)

So what exactly do these novels have in common with Highsmith? Most obviously, a sense of impending disaster -- you just know, from the very first page, that things are going to turn out badly. And the disaster is usually set in motion not by external events but simply by the interaction of the characters, one of whom often turns out to be psychologically damaged in some way (like Highsmith's Ripley) and somehow contrives to bring out hidden flaws in other people. These are very character-driven novels. And often, as in The Secret History, there is an element of unlucky chance, with the implication that these characters would have led perfectly normal and unremarkable lives if fate hadn't brought them together to form a combustible mixture.

Finally, let me also recommend the novels of Henry James -- which may seem an odd suggestion, but James is in many ways the father of the modern character-driven novel, and his influence lies heavily on some of the writers I have mentioned. The Talented Mr Ripley is a reworking of Henry James's The Ambassadors, just as Barbara Vine's The House of Stairs is a reworking of Henry James's The Wings of the Dove. You could even see Ira Levin's Rosemary's Baby as a reworking of Henry James's The Turn of the Screw.
posted by verstegan at 4:51 AM on April 14, 2005

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