Strangers on a Train - Patricia Highsmith

There was inside him, like a flaw in a jewel, not visible on the surface, a fear and anticipation of failure that he had never been able to mend. At times, failure was a possibility that fascinated him, as at times, in high school and college, when he had allowed himself to fail examinations he might have passed; as when he married Miriam, he thought, against the will of both their families and all their friends. Hadn’t he known it couldn’t succeed? And now he had given up his biggest commission, without a murmur.


And here Bruno was looking like the sick cookie.