"The Hitchhiker" is a short story by Roald Dahl, published in his 1979 collection "Tales of the Unexpected." The story is narrated by a man who picks up a hitchhiker while driving home from a business trip. The hitchhiker is a mysterious man with fantastic fingers who claims to be a professional "finger smith" rather than a pickpocket. The man tells the narrator about his job, which involves stealing from rich people at race meetings, and shows off his incredible sleight of hand by taking the narrator's belt, shoelace, and even his watch without the narrator noticing. The hitchhiker is amused by the narrator's questions and doubts about his profession and ultimately steals the narrator's wallet and car keys before disappearing into the night.
The story is a masterclass in suspense, as Dahl builds tension throughout with the hitchhiker's mysterious behaviour and the growing sense of unease felt by the narrator. The hitchhiker is a fascinating character, with his proud and almost noble attitude towards his criminal activities and his incredible skill with his fingers. The twist ending is classic Dahl, as the reader realizes that they have been taken in by the hitchhiker's charm and the narrator's naïveté and that the true purpose of the hitchhiker's ride was to rob the narrator all along.
Overall, "The Hitchhiker" is a dark and thrilling story that showcases Dahl's mastery of suspense, characterization, and surprise endings. It is a must-read for fans of short stories and psychological thrillers.