'Highsmith writes the verbal equivalent of a drug - easy to consume, darkly euphoric, totally addictive . . . (She) belongs in the moody company of Dostoevsky or Angela Carter' Time Out
Nowhere is Patricia Highsmith's affinity for animals more apparent than in The Animal-Lover's Book of Beastly Murder, for here she transfers the murderous thoughts and rages most associated with humans onto the animals themselves. You will meet, for example, in 'In the Dead of Truffle Season', a truffle-hunting pig who tries to whet his own appetite for a while; or Jumbo in 'Chorus Girl's Absolutely Final Performance', a lonely, old circus elephant who decides she's had enough of show business and cruel trainers for one lifetime. In this satirical reprise of Kafka, cats, dogs, and breeding rodents are no longer ordinary beings in the happy home, but actually have the power to destroy the world in which we live.
Grisly and atmospheric, these are perfectly nasty little tales told by an acknowledged mistress of the form ( Little Tales of Mysogyny. Whether it's Eddie, the Capuchin monkey, annoyed at the petty thief who employs him, or Djemal, the camel, getting back at a cruel driver, Highsmith's creatures are intelligent, vengeful and bloodthirsty. Even the aged Baron, a pampered and sophisticated city dog with worn-down teeth, finds a way of settling the score with the human he dislikes. Tales are told of a truffle-hunting pig, a ferret, a goat who gives rides in an amusement park, a sleek Siamese cat, chickens raised on an automated farm and an extended family of hamstersall sympathetically, but never sentimentally, portrayed. The stories feature small worlds of animal amorality in which the sweet taste of revenge leaves no aftertaste of guilt. It's a rich offering, best sampled in small bites.