Title: Ripley Under Ground
Author: Patricia Highsmith
This was certainly a worthy sequel to ‘The Talented Mr Ripley’. I honestly cannot believe I hadn’t read this sooner!
Six years have passed since Ripley murdered Greenleaf and inherited his wealth. Now, he lives in a beautiful house in France surrounded by world-class art, vintage wine and married to an heiress. All seems to be perfect in his world until a phone call from London destroys his peace. An art forgery scheme set up some years prior is threatening to unravel due to an American asking one too many questions. Ripley will stop at nothing to preserve his tangle of lies.
Ripley is the same audacious, street-smart rogue free of guilt and morals. And yet there was amazing character development. Ripley seemed to be different in some aspects; such as showing an almost protective side and being a little bit more squeamish than before. Both these developments are well expected. The other characters are also well fleshed out.
The plot was fast paced and absolutely brilliantly written. Tension and suspense made this a captivating read, with a skosh of humour thrown in. I was kept on the edge of my seat throughout, mainly because Ripley kept telling everyone his secret. Small references to the previous book are littered throughout the book, which made the whole transition from the two books seem smooth and made the book flow better. Everything that has happened between the books is told in a concise and detailed manner, leaving any questions answered satisfactory. I felt like this book was a little bit darker than its predecessor, especially towards the end.
“Honestly, I don’t understand why people get so worked up about a little murder!”
Oh the ending! The ending felt like the proper cat and mouse game between Ripley and Inspector Webster was about to kick off. Annoyingly, Highsmith ended the novel on a bit of a cliffhanger, which naturally made me wonder if the next book (‘Ripley’s Game) was going to pick up from there or whether the events will be glossed over, with references made in the context of a flashback.
This was a very worthwhile read. If not for the plot, then definitely for the character of Tom Ripley. His complexity, audacity and smoothness are just astounding. Rightly labeled as the ‘most seductive sociopath’. This book has all the elements of a spellbinding read – lies, impersonation, murder and more lies.
Cannot wait to continue the series!