Wednesday, November 21, 2007
The engaging novel, The Talented Mr. Ripley by Patricia Highsmith, is a quirky crime thriller. Highsmith dismisses with many of the traditional aspects of the crime thriller and presents the amoral criminal, one Tom Ripley, from the inside out. From the very first page of the novel you are sharing the thoughts of Tom as he looks over his shoulder expecting the police to emerge from the shadows to take him away. As the novel ends, he is still looking over his shoulder, so to speak, as he imagines the gendarmes awaiting at whatever European port he is approaching. In between the reader shares the roller coaster ride as this intriguing criminal assumes the identity of young American Dickie Greenleaf, an expatriate whom he has been sent to coax home by Greenleaf's father. Assuming Greenleaf's identity involves Tom in murder and more as he travels from Rome to Palermo to Venice to escape those searching for the missing American. Highsmith demonstrates both psychological acuity and brilliant logic in her portrayal of one of the most likable of amoral and irrational criminals ever imagined. Her writing style is superb and you are disappointed that the tale must end. Fortunately she went on to write four subsequent novels starring the talented Mr. Ripley.
The Talented Mr. Ripley by Patricia Highsmith. Vintage Books, New York. 1983 (1955).