The Talented Mr. Ripley – Patricia Highsmith (1955)


The Talented Mr. Ripley by Patricia Highsmith is the first of five Ripley suspense novels. Thomas Phelps Ripley is a con artist and a serial killer, and also the protagonist of the book. Highsmith attaches the perfect blend of likability with sociopathy that the reader cannot help but stay with Tom through his increasingly insane exploits. Written in the clean, American mid-20th century style, Ripley is a page turner. It has been years since the movie starring Matt Damon and Jude Law of the same title was released, and I did not remember enough of the movie to remove my own imaginings of Highsmith’s world and have them replaced by the film’s version, which helped. Interestingly, Ripley and his cohorts are selfish and mean, yet the reader sympathizes with them, and particularly with Tom. Including just enough backstory to explain some of his choices, but not enough to slow the story with too many flashbacks, Highsmith’s vision is clear. One of the themes that ran through the book was the question of the nature of Tom’s relationship with Dickie Greenleaf. While it is denied verbally to other characters, the book makes evident that Ripley is infatuated with Dickie, in terms stronger than platonic friendship. A definite must read!! 252 pages 

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