Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Fans of Highsmith ( Strangers on a Train , Found in the Street ) will welcome this collection; for others it may be an acquired taste. Among the 11 short stories, ``The Stuff of Madness'' tells of a woman who displays her dead stuffed pets in the garden, and of her husband's final revolt. ``A Clock Ticks at Christmas'' is about the breakup of the marriage between a woman born rich and a man who had to make his money, and their opposite reactions to a theft by two urchins she befriends. In ``The Button,'' a man displaces his rage at his Mongoloid son by killing a stranger. In the title story, a government official injured in an assassination attempt on the President suffers a personality change he is unaware of, although everyone else notices his altered behavior. The art student visiting Mexico in ``A Shot from Nowhere'' sees a young boy killed but can get no one to do anything about it; he is arrested and thrown out of the country with no explanation. More mood pieces and psychological studies than nicely plotted stories, these tales are depressing and downbeat, albeit very well written.