In honor of the 20th anniversary of Patricia Highsmith's death and the 40th anniversary of Per Wahlöö'sdeath, Clues 33.2 (2015) has been published. It is a theme issue on the work of Highsmith, plus reveals Wahlöö's plans for another Martin Beck novel near the end of his life. Abstracts follow below. Contact McFarland to order the issue or to subscribe to the journal. Introduction: Re-Evaluating Patricia Highsmith
FIONA PETERS (Bath Spa Univ, UK)
Conformity and Singularity in Patricia Highsmith’s Early Novels
This essay explores Highsmith’s critique of the American suburbs in the novels of the 1950s and early 1960s. It focuses on This Sweet Sickness, highlighting not only Highsmith’s critique of conformity but also her recognition of the threat of psychic breakdown for those who resisted cultural norms.
“Sooner or later most of us get hooked”: The Question of Insanity in Patricia Highsmith’s Strangers on a Train and The Talented Mr. Ripley
SAMANTHA WALTON (Bath Spa Univ, UK)
This article considers constructions of insanity in Strangers on a Trainand The Talented Mr. Ripley in the context of historical understandings of psychopathy and sociopathic personality disturbance. It examines Patricia Highsmith’s psychological influences and assesses how her novels have been read in relation to changing notions of criminal insanity in psychiatry, law, and culture.
Under an Atomic Sky: Patricia Highsmith, Fyodor Dostoevsky, and the Apocalyptic Imagination
ILSE SCHRYNEMAKERS (Queensboro Community College, NY)
This essay contextualizes Patricia Highsmith’s crime fiction within the ethos of a world with the atomic bomb, examining how her characters fit the prototype of Americans striving for and achieving a comfortable life. It also explores the significance of characters in such a world committing seemingly irrational actions.
Living “As If”: Ripley’s Imaginary and the Problem of Other People in The Talented Mr. Ripley
BRUCE WYSE (Wilfrid Laurier Univ, Canada)
In Patricia Highsmith’s The Talented Mr. Ripley, Tom Ripley finds reading people a challenge but copes through a form of everyday detection. The author argues that Ripley is an “as-if” character who passes for “normal” until his fantasized rapport with Dickie collapses. Through Dickie’s murder, he recaptures this imaginary bond.
The Tremors of Forgery: The Palimpsest of Tom Ripley’s Identity
JACQUI MILLER (Liverpool Hope Univ, UK)
Forgery is a recurrent theme in Patricia Highsmith’s work, both as a transgressive act and a metaphor for transformation. Positioning the films within their socio-historical context, the essay will examine the ways in which Tom Ripley is reconstructed or “forged” in the adaptations of Highsmith.
Frenching Mr. Ripley
K. A. LAITY (College of Saint Rose, NY)
The Criterion edition of René Clément’s Plein Soleil/Purple Noon (1960) gives vivid life to the French adaptation of Patricia Highsmith’s The Talented Mr. Ripley (1955). The script by Clément and Paul Gégauff retains the author’s moral ambiguity but eschews the character’s abjection and its related sexual ambiguity for a vigorous and untroubled heteronormativity.
Patricia Highsmith and the Dark Carnival
CRAIG A. WARREN (Penn State Behrend)
A study of the amusement-park sequence in Strangers on a Train(1950) reveals that Patricia Highsmith should be recognized as a founder of “dark carnival” writing, a subgenre of suspense and horror fiction that emerged during the second half of the twentieth century.
Strangers in Tunisia: Edgar Allan Poe’s Confessional Imp and Patricia Highsmith’s The Tremor of Forgery
A. B. EMRYS (emerita, Univ of Nebraska–Kearney)
This article discusses how Patricia Highsmith reworks dynamics from Strangers on a Train, including redirection of a scene from Edgar Allan Poe, to support Howard Ingham’s rejection of conventional judgment in The Tremor of Forgery. Ingham’s experiences, the author argues, anticipate Highsmith’s last novel, Small g.
Those Who Follow: Homosocial Choreography in Highsmith’s Queer Gothic
BRAN NICOL (Univ of Surrey, UK)
Many of Patricia Highsmith’s plots are versions of what Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick calls the gothic “reversible male chase.” Focusing on The Two Faces of January and Those Who Walk Away, this essay explores how Highsmithian homosociality exposes the empty reflexivity of late–twentieth-century existence.
The Queer Death of Timothy Porter: Crime and Punishment in Patricia Highsmith’s “The Black House”
ALEXIS M. EGAN (Univ of New Orleans)
This essay examines Timothy Porter’s death in Patricia Highsmith’s “The Black House” as a symptom of violated gender norms in the public and private spheres. The article also examines Tom Ripley’s murder of Dickie Greenleaf in The Talented Mr. Ripley, considering whether it is space itself or a violation of gender that influences this act of violence.
RESEARCH NOTE Last Words, 1975: Per Wahlöö and the Book That Went Up in Smoke
PER HELLGREN (Strangnas, Sweden)
When Swedish crime writer Per Wahlöö died in 1975, he and his writing partner, Maj Sjöwall, had barely managed to finish their final novel, The Terrorists (1975). Following the recent discovery of Wahlöö’s last notes from his deathbed, previously unknown to the public, the author explores Wahlöö’s plans for an 11th Martin Beck novel.
REVIEWS True Detection. Ed. Edia Connole, Paul J. Ennis, and Nicola Masciandaro JACK DUDLEY
Paul Elliott. Studying the British Crime Film
CHRISTOPHER K. COFFMAN
Peter Messent. The Crime Fiction Handbook JOHN SCAGGS