Thursday, September 13, 2007

Ripley Under Ground, by Patricia Highsmith

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

Review:

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.

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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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