Patricia Highsmith (1921-1995) got her start as a comic book story writer. In 1950 she published Strangers on a Train, one of the great first novels of all time. Alfred Hitchcock would turn it into one of the top movies of 1951, securing Highsmith’s reputation as an author of psychologically complex thriller. Her short stories made regular appearances in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine throughout the 1950’s.
1955 saw the first of five appearances of Tom Ripley, the author’s most enduring creation. With the creation of Ripley, Highsmith succeeding in creating a character, both likeable and utterly devoid of morality. A psychopath the reader cheers on.
In a pulp world with precious few female leads (there are others, but so few compared to men), Highsmith seemed to float to the top with her first novel and stayed there with her keen awareness of the human psyche. She knew what the readers wanted, even if they themselves did not.
Ripley’s Game (1974)