The Talented Mr Ripley (1955): Patricia Highsmith

★★★★½

Tom Ripley: Book 1

Two jolly good books in a row! I had a bit of a head start on Patricia Highsmith’s most famous novel, because I’ve seen the 1999 film adaptation several times. However, it’s been so long since I last watched it that I really couldn’t remember all the details, and had the pleasure of being caught up in the cat-and-mouse game of the plot. Will he or won’t he be caught?! Highsmith’s smart, calculating antihero Tom Ripley must, in a sense, be the patron saint (or devil) of introverts, with the caveat that most of us aren’t psychopaths. There’s a kind of wish fulfilment about this story, in which a mousy, impoverished nobody finds himself thrust into the glittering orbit of an American trust-funder – sampling a lifestyle which proves so irresistible that he is prepared to commit murder in order to keep enjoying it. Highsmith’s genius is to write this story from Ripley’s perspective, making his actions seem so self-evidently logical that you find yourself rooting for him to prevail. A classic thriller, well deserving of its status.

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