Highsmith may have been a misanthropist (or even misogynist, a la another satirical collection, Little Tales of Misogyny), but she was a little more sympathetic toward animals. Beastly Murder builds on a Kafka-esque premise of anthropormophic animals, and in some cases, the effect is poignant, as in the case of a lonely circus elephant who bonds with a sympathetic handler for 30 years then has to deal with his cruel replacement.
But these aren't sentimental tales, with the likes of a truffle-hunting pig, a goat who gives rides in an amusement park, a Siamese cat, a dog named Baron, cockroaches, hamsters, and chickens on an automated farm all getting their due in ways that are often grisly and filled with black—and bleak—humor. Some are written from the animal's POV, some from the human's, and some of them, like "The Bravest Rat In Venice" are downright horrific. (Maybe appropriate, then, that Terry Castle wrote how Highsmith commented creepy ideas came to her as "frequently as a rat has orgasms").
Chorus Girl’s Absolutely Final Performance
There I Was, Stuck with Bubsy
Ming’s Biggest Prey
In the Dead of Truffle Season
The Bravest Rat in Venice
The Day of Reckoning
Notes from a Respectable Cockroach
Eddie and the Monkey Robberies
Hamsters vs. Websters
Harry: A Ferret