Thursday, February 11, 2016

Review: RIPLEY UNDER GROUND, by Patricia Highsmith

Ripley Under Ground, by Patricia Highsmith. Published 2008 by Norton. Crime fiction. Literary fiction. Crime Fiction.

Settled in the French countryside with his new wife Heloise, Tom Ripley enjoys a quiet life of gardening, painting, and art forgery as he lives off the proceeds of his prior bad acts and commits some new ones in this enjoyable and well-structured sequel to The Talented Mr. Ripley.

In The Talented Mr. Ripley we met Tom, the American who finds his calling in crime when he's sent to retrieve shipping-company scion Dickie Greenleaf from his carefree life in Italy. Now Dickie's dead and Tom, having made himself Dickie's heir, lives quietly but comfortably. But things start to unravel when an American art aficionado suspects (correctly) that one of his pictures is a fake. The man, Mr, Murchison, goes to visit Tom thinking Tom is a fellow collector but when Tom realizes that Murchison's nosing is going to bring down the whole scheme, something has to be done. Luckily there is a blunt object handy, and we're off to the races.

The rest is cat-and-mouse with the police, Mr. Murchison's widow and an unstable painter named Bernard who tries to kill Tom not once but twice. What's going to happen? Is Tom going to come out on top or will he be caught? And what about those lingering suspicions around Dickie Greenleaf's death? When Dickie's cousin comes visiting, what could that imply for our antihero?

You'll have to read to find out. Ripley Under Ground is a fun follow-up but doesn't come close to the first book's genius. Tom is still in control, but maintaining that smooth facade is more difficult than he expects. There's no real doubt as to how it's going to end up (there are two or three more Ripley novels in Patricia Highsmith's canon so he's not going anywhere- yet) and the fun is seeing how he gets there. Tom has some real opponents in this book, and he eludes them again through cunning and luck. I don't think Under Ground is essential reading but it's fun and worth it if you want to follow Tom Ripley's further adventures.

Rating: BEACH

FTC Disclosure: I did not receive this book for review.