Friday, 3 November 2017

Book Review: Ripley Under Ground by Patricia Highsmith


In this harrowing illumination of the psychotic mind, the enviable Tom Ripley has a lovely house in the French countryside, a beautiful and very rich wife, and an art collection worthy of a connoisseur. But such a gracious life has not come easily. One inopportune inquiry, one inconvenient friend, and Ripley's world will come tumbling down--unless he takes decisive steps. In a mesmerizing novel that coolly subverts all traditional notions of literary justice, Ripley enthralls us even as we watch him perform acts of pure and unspeakable evil.

My Review: 
Tom Ripley has put the unfortunate Dickie incident behind him and is now married to a French woman, living on a country estate near Paris and indulging his loves of art and music. With money from Dickie's estate and income from an ongoing art scam as well as his wife's wealth, life is good and successful.

The art gallery have been selling work by the alleged reclusive Derwatt, who is not living in Mexico as claimed and actually died years ago, his work now being forged by talented painter Bernard Tufts. An American buyer has questioned that a painting he bought was a fake, forcing Tom to impersonate Derwatt at the gallery to claim the painting is really his. The buyer is still unconvinced so Tom decides to take him back to France in the guise of art lover Tom Ripley, to convince him over a few days not to pursue the matter. However when the man starts to suspect that Tom may be involved in the art scam, he might have to put a stop to the problem...

You can actually feel sympathy for Tom in this book. He is dealing with the art scam while doing a bit of illegal work for a contact which involves having a Count visit his house, the removal of a micro film from his belongings and it being posted to another address. He is also dealing with the bitter and suicidal Bernard, and an annoying relative of Dickie who invites himself to stay, along with various visits from British and French police, while trying to keep his wife and housekeeper out of the way of his dodgy actions. It goes almost slapstick in the middle of the book with all these people at Tom's house over a few days and he is trying to keep control over the situation! At times it gets too much even for Tom!

Chris is Dickie's cousin and I just found him annoying. He sends a letter to Tom, inviting himself to stay at Tom's house, who he had never met, and without waiting for a reply, he descends on Paris wanting to stay the next day. When Tom tries to put him off for a few days, Chris insists on coming when it suits him, not Tom. This guy is just so damn rude and I would have told him no! When the police start to visit and Bernard arrives, Chris is determined to poke his nose into the affair, sitting in on police interviews and extending his stay to find out what is wrong with Bernard. This guy is insufferably nosy and annoying and I was hoping that Tom would kill him!

I enjoyed this book and I seem to be in the minority over thinking that this is a better book than the first one. I liked the characters much better and the plot itself is entertaining as Tom gradually loses control of the situation, and it develops into an entertaining crime farce! The more he tries to resolve the problem, the bigger mess he gets into and I was quite hooked by it. My only complaint was the ending, as it doesn't neatly resolve the situation for me. Still, I did enjoy reading it so it didn't spoil the book. I plan to read the other books in the series. 


Read November 2017.
3.5 stars.

6 comments:

  1. This would be one book I would NOT pick because of the cover LOL

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    1. I think these covers are maybe an aquired taste!

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  2. The only book I've read by Highsmith is Strangers on a Train which I really liked. But I want to read some of her other books, especially her Ripley ones.

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    1. Ripley is a good anti-hero...I always seem to be rooting for him!

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  3. There was a sequel? I had no idea.

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    1. There's five books in total that I know of. The first three were all turned into films. I really like Ripley's Game as I'm a John Malkovich fan!

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