The Van Allens have an arrangement wherein Melinda can do as she pleases as long as she doesn't abandon Vic and their daughter. In fact, Vic's only objection is that she chooses 'such idiotic, spineless characters'. His friends express concern at his being cuckolded and he is seen as having the patience of a saint while the frivolous Melinda drinks excessively and fawns over a seemingly endless parade of lovers.
When one of Melinda's former lovers is murdered, Vic scares off her current flame by joking that he killed the last one. But when another lover drowns, Melinda becomes suspicious that Vic has a hidden dark side.
Highsmith is an incredible writer and has a gift for creating complex characters who are not what they seem. She manages to make readers feel contempt for victims and empathy for a perpetrators. Suspense builds with each chapter and you never know what is going to happen next.
My review of Highsmith's The Talented Mr Ripley (1955) is also available on this blog. I am looking forward to exploring more of her novels this year.