Thursday, September 13, 2007

Ripley Under Ground, by Patricia Highsmith

(pb; 1970: second novel in the Ripley series)


Tom Ripley, enjoying the quiet life with his wife Heloise and live-in maid Mme. Annette, suddenly finds his life turned every which way when an American art collector (Thomas Murchison) begins questioning the authenticity of certain Phillip Derwatt paintings -- high-priced artwork that's actually the result of a forgery ring that is Ripley's brainchild. Also, Bernard Tufts, the depressed, possibly suicidal painter who created the aforementioned forgeries, is threatening to quit painting, making the crisis even worse -- just as Christopher Greenleaf, a curious cousin of Dickie's (who met a watery end at the hands of Ripley in The Talented Mr. Ripley) is about to visit Ripley's Villeperce-sur-Seine home.

Darkly funny, often ironic and self-assured, both the novel and Ripley are dead-on winners. Those readers who didn't cotton to Ripley's panicked up-and-down personality in the first novel might cotton to the older, smoother Ripley, who has the good sense to worry about things, but the mature wherewithal to deal with them -- even if it means burying more bodies.

Check it out.

Followed by Ripley's Game.


The movie version of Ripley Under Ground premiered stateside on November 6, 2005. Barry Pepper played Tom Ripley. Jacinda Barrett played Heloise Plisson, Ripley's wife. 

Tom Wilkinson played John Webster, a detective. Willem Dafoe played Neil Murchison (a cinematic stand-in for Thomas Murchison?). Alan Cumming played Jeff Constant, one of Ripley's partners-in-art-crime. Claire Forlani played Cynthia, Bernard Tufts's ex-girlfriend. Roger Spottiswoode directed.

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