The Talented Mr. Ripley by Patricia Highsmith – Book Review

The Talented Mr Ripley by Patricia Highsmith

The Talented Mr. Ripley by Patricia Highsmith is a 1955 Cresset Press (UK) publication.

Source: purchased at our local used bookstore

“Since his debut in 1955, Tom Ripley has evolved into the ultimate bad boy sociopath, influencing countless novelists and filmmakers. In this first novel, we are introduced to suave, handsome Tom Ripley: a young striver, newly arrived in the heady world of Manhattan in the 1950s. A product of a broken home, branded a “sissy” by his dismissive Aunt Dottie, Ripley becomes enamored of the moneyed world of his new friend, Dickie Greenleaf. This fondness turns obsessive when Ripley is sent to Italy to bring back his libertine pal but grows enraged by Dickie’s ambivalent feelings for Marge, a charming American dilettante.”- Goodreads

The Talented Mr Ripley

This book fascinated me and held my attention as few have in the past. I couldn’t put it down and after I was finished my brain was still absorbed in it’s details. Tom Ripley is approached by a wealthy ship builder to visit Italy to try to talk his son into coming home, who is an acquaintance of Tom’s. When he finds Dickie, the son, Tom becomes obsessed with him, his lifestyle, and his wealth. Tom’s from a broken home, raised by an extremely overbearing aunt who seems like Satan in a dress, and is tired of his tight finances and having to run with a crowd of friends that aren’t rich and popular. Needless to say I won’t be spoiling what happens once Tom finds Dickie and is unable to convince him to return, but I will say it kept me awake at night.

The psychological themes involved in this book are terrific. I loved that the reader is witnessing the story through the eyes of the “bad guy”. You really get to see how he tries to justify the things he’s done and the amount of thought that goes into planning and executing his crimes. You see how simple gestures or comments made by others are taken as fuel for his hatred and given as reason to commit these crimes. The peek into the mind of the criminal is a wonderful twist in this book that I loved. I haven’t read any other vintage crime novel that had this level of suspense. I can see why people have been inspired to adapt it to film.

Set early on in the novel in Manhattan, the book switches to the beautiful coast of Italy soon after. This has to be the most perfect setting for this book ever. The rich, lush landscape mimics the wealth of those around Ripley. I think anyone reading this book could picture a 50’s Technicolor landscape of the small coastal village perched above the sea. Makes me long for warm salt air!

The Talented Mr. Ripley is the first in a five part series and is followed by Ripley Underground, Ripley’s Game, The Boy Who Followed Ripley, and Ripley Under Water. If you’re interested in purchasing any of these titles you can find them at the following retailer. You can find more Thriller and Suspense reviews on my blog.

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