Ripley Under Ground by Patricia Highsmith ****

Reading dates: 16—19 December 2016

While on holiday in India, and after reading ‘His Bloody Project’, nothing could satisfy me. I started ‘Crime and Punishment’ for the third time but was often more enthused by the clumsy bat and ball game next to me. Then I remember a conversation I had with Rob Wringham about the Ripliad and how I read the first of the five books relatively recently. So I found a reading project to complete: to read them in order. The second in the series is wonderfully gripping, with plenty of what makes Highsmith’s writing come alive: the details of the murders themselves, Ripley’s worry, his high life, the cities he travels too. It is a perfect holiday read, with intrigue, dubious morals and art forgeries. It is also written in Highsmith’s efficient style, which I find quite unique. It is evocative and, while I don’t consider it poetic or beautiful, it does what it needs to do for the main character. Her creation of Tom Ripley is an absolute success and in this book he comes alive (where in the previous one seemed still a bit of a caricature to me, just a calling card and origin story). I am already on to the next one, of course.