Thursday, December 31, 2009

Book Review - The Talented Mr. Ripley

I love to read about the arrogant, wild, free-spirited writers and authors of the past. Although I had heard (but not seen) of the movie, The Talented Mr. Ripley, I had not heard of the original book's author Patricia Highsmith until browsing B& N for new books to read. Ms. Highsmith's biography caught my eye and defiantly caught my attention - she was just the type of Fitzgerald-era character (Mr. Gatsby, anyone?)I love to read about. I decided I had better read one or two of her books before I tackled her biography and naturally chose The Talented Mr. Ripley, simply because it was familiar to me. I did try to track down a copy of the movie but the library did not have it. Instead I found the book, which turns out to be a trilogy about Mr. Tom Ripley.

Let me tell you, if you like suspense – there is none better than this title. My stomach was literally in knots from page 100 on. I stayed up until 2am to finish the first book and had to take a sleeping pill to calm myself down from the suspense of it all! I couldn’t wait to post about this book, even as I am reading on through the second book now. Who knows what Ms. Highsmith’s biography will bring after I complete the Ripley stories – I cannot wait!
Here’s a short summary of the first of the Ripley stories – The Talented Mr. Ripley.

The story begins with Tom, a non-descript character who dabbles in small time forgery crimes for fun. He find himself being tailed by a gentleman, who turns out not to be a detective, but the distraught father of one of Tom’s friends. The father tells Tom that his son has run off to Europe and will not return home, even with his mother in failing health. Sensing an opportunity, Tom worms his way into an expense paid trip to Europe to bring the son, Dickie, home.

Dreaming of a new life abroad, Tom quickly becomes friends with Dickie and his lady friend, Marge. They spend the summer together, making plans to winter traveling Europe. The friendship seems queer to Marge and she convinces Dickie to severe the friendship. The men take one final trip together and Tom sees his bright future slipping away. In a fit, he kills Dickie and assumes his identity. Dodging Marge and moving to Paris, Tom totally transforms himself in to Dickie, even forging his bank cheque and living off the dead boy’s money.

In a fluke, a mutual friend finds Tom at “Dickie’s” Paris apartment. Quickly figuring out that something is amiss; the friend starts to question Tom. Tom kills the friend and dumps the body, making the murder look like a robbery. This begins a suspenseful cat and mouse game between Tom and the police. Tom is only one small step ahead at any given moment and is eventually confronted.

I won’t spoil anymore for you, as it’s obvious he gets away this time for there would not be two more Ripley books if he didn’t. I guarantee you will be on you toes and holding your breath the entire way. Just remember to breathe every now and then!

Enjoy, The Talented Mr. Ripley as I am off for a long night of reading, Ripley Under Ground!

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