HIGHSMITH AT 100

      Patricia Highsmith, the doyenne of the psychological suspense novel, was born in Texas one hundred years ago this January. Her five Ripley thrillers – the so-called “Ripliad” – are among the most disturbing books ever written. Few writers fathomed with such intensity the dark places of the human mind. Tom Ripley, with his social envy and bouts …

SWIMMING WITH THE RUSSIANS

Anton Chekhov, medical doctor and writer, died of tuberculosis at the age of only 44. Ironically for such a reticent figure, it was a darkly theatrical death. The refrigerated railway car repatriating his corpse from Germany to Russia in 1904 was marked ‘FRESH OYSTERS’. His widow Olga became a leading actor and spy in post-Revolutionary Russia, but Chekhov was too …