A volume in "Twayne's Authors Series" of literary criticism offers a critical introduction to the life and work of a particular writer, to the history and influence of a literary movement, or to the development of a literary genre. Primarily devoted to critical interpretation and discussion of an author s work, the study not only takes account of major literary trends and important contributions in scholarship and criticism but also provides new critical insights and an original point of view. "Authors Series" volumes are rooted in the original works themselves and address readers ranging from advanced high school students to university professors. The book suggests to the informed reader new ways of considering a writer's work. A reader new to the work under examination will, after reading the "Authors Series" study, be compelled to turn to the originals, bringing to the reading a basic knowledge and fresh critical perspectives. Patricia Highsmith's work was for a long time ghettoized as mystery/suspense fiction. This study treats her work as serious fiction and places it in a historical, sociological, and political context. Russell Harrison reveals her ties to French existentialism, and makes clear the ways in which her work reflects sociopolitical concerns of the 1950s. He also shows her work changing in response to the countercultural and gay liberation movements of the 1960s and later. Patricia Highsmith elucidates this writer s oblique approach to political, sexual, and cultural issues through a detailed reading of her most successful fiction.