The Complete Ripley Novels by Patricia Highsmith (amazon)
In the fall, my thoughts turn to murder. I’m not planning on murdering anyone in real life, but I do tend to read more mystery and suspense novels as the weather gets colder. I was excited when I got this boxed set because while I’d read the first Ripley book years ago I had never taken the time to explore the whole series.
The Talented Mr. Ripley introduces Tom Ripley, a charming and insecure sociopath who seizes on the chance to go to Italy when Dickie Greenleaf’s father offers to pay his way. Dickie is a distant acquaintance of Tom’s. When he arrives in Italy he is fascinated by Dickie and repelled by Dickie’s female friend Marge. Tom’s growing obsessions make frolicking in Italy seem incredibly ominous. It takes a talented writer to present a story solely from the point of view of such a damaged character and make him so compelling that the reader ends up rooting for him, but Highsmith more than pulls it off. Ripley is a great antihero.
Ripley Under Ground finds Tom married to an often absent Frenchwoman and involved in an art forgery scheme that he goes to extraordinary lengths to protect.
Ripley’s Game was a weaker entry in the series because there wasn’t enough Ripley in it! Instead we see Ripley set events in motion that turn a simple framer who is suffering from leukemia into a hit man. I read the first two books in a few days, but this one was slow going until Ripley showed up again in the last half of the book. It was still a good suspense novel, it only suffered in comparison by having less Ripley than I expected.
I just started The Boy Who Followed Ripley and I hope to wind up the series with Ripley Under Water over the weekend.
The design of the set is striking. The book covers are black and grey. The titles of the books are red, and red symbols that reflect the plot of each book are printed on the cover – an oar, picture frame, pawn, high-heeled shoe, and waves. This would be a great holiday present for any suspense-lovers on your shopping list who you want to give a special treat.
Review copy provided by the publisher.