Twelve stories by the gifted, uneven author of Strangers on a Train, the Ripley series, and Edith's Diary--reflecting Highsmith's ongoing interest in abnormal psychology, obsessive relationships, and violent environments. Three tales feature cold-blooded murder from the murderer's viewpoint: an aging, rageful, retired businessman takes utterly unwarranted revenge on his neighbor in rural Maine; a traveling professor commits a meaningless murder to frame an old rival in love; a young psycho adds a grisly new horror to Madame Thibault's Waxwork Horrors--and is disappointed when no one believes his confession. ("He'd do something more important next time. . . Kill a hundred people at least. . . They'd know then. They'd treat him like somebody who existed.") Elsewhere, law-abiding types are driven to guilt-causing violence by attacks and threats from outside; in domestic situations, a frazzled mother resorts to child abuse--while a husband who can't tolerate his wife's idiosyncracies brings violence upon himself. And the violence is supernatural in "The Pond" (a dead man's spirit luring both wife and son to a reunion), futuristic in "Please Don't Shoot the Trees." Throughout, Highsmith's psycho-portraiture is a little dated, fairly superficial, less commanding than similar studies by Ruth Rendell. And her American settings are never fully convincing. ("The Network," about the rather childish support-system within a group of N.Y.C. friends, is crammed with false notes.) But fans of quirky, creepy crime/violence vignettes will find this a modestly diverting collection.