Patricia Highsmith

Ripley Under Ground

""...Highsmith is always a mistress of suspense..." "


Tom Ripley is now the owner of a beautiful estate in France, a wealthy art collector and married to an heiress. The Buckmaster Gallery is staging an exhibition by the celebrated artist, Derwatt, but an American collector claims that the expensive masterpiece he bought three years ago is a fake. It is, of course and he wants to talk to Derwatt - but Derwatt, inconveniently, is dead.

Ripley needs the perfect solution to keep his role in the fraud a secret and his reputation clean, but not everyone's nerves are as steady as his. Especially when it comes to murder.

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Having read 'The Talented Mr Ripley over twenty years ago, and then reading it twice more in anticipation of completing (and failing) to read Highsmith's 'Ripliad', I finally took the bull by the horns and got to Ripley's second outing. Having read Highsmith on and off for thirty years and being in awe and well as frustrated by her novels, I can't really decide which category 'Ripley Under Ground' comes under. As with all her books, Highsmith's writing is sublime. She pitched me head first into Ripley's complex world. This second book, published fifteen years after the first, finds Tom living in a chateau just outside Paris. He is married, but it appears that his penchant for making a buck through highly questionable means hasn't left him. As with the first, whether by Fate or Ripley's own bad judgement, things lead to murder. How Tom muddies the pool is equally suspenseful as only Highsmith can do. However, and this is where I get scratchy with Highsmith, it feels as though she got bored with her story which does tend to peter out. We have Tom in Athens and Saltzberg on trips where you are expected to take large gulps of coincidence as Tom searches for someone across Europe and finds them in a few days. Regardless of how I feel about plot, Highsmith is always a mistress of suspense and is so good at making the ordinary feel so dark. With the television series planned for this year, it would be wise to immerse yourself and catch up with the shenanigans of Tom Ripley.

Reviewed By:

Chris Simmons