For more than four decades, Patricia Highsmith has developed her unique mastery of suspense - not least in her renowned cycle of novels featuring Tom Ripley. Now, with the fifth in that series and her first new novel in five years, she demonstrates yet again her ability, as Graham Greene wrote, "to create a world of her own, a world claustrophobic and irrational which we enter each time with a sense of personal danger." Though his talent for evil has in no way diminished, Tom Ripley has aged, even mellowed. Now leading the good life in the French countryside, complete with chic wife and devoted housekeeper, he is more interested in his wine stores than the bloodstains on the cellar floor. Then a meddlesome American couple takes up residence in the same village. Though at first the Pritchards seem a mere curiosity, their taste as execrable as their manners, they are annoyingly well informed about incidents in Ripley's past and almost smug about flaunting their knowledge. This, of course, disturbs the tranquillity of the charmed, cultured life for which Tom has worked so hard, and he has no choice but to bedevil the Pritchards in return. Thus begins a spirited, sophisticated game of cat and mouse that leads to Tangier and London and back again, to the pond behind the Pritchards' house. It is Ripley at his most suave and devious - and Patricia Highsmith in peak form. For her aficionados, Ripley Under Water is utterly essential - and for readers new to her work, a spectacular introduction to "a natural novelist" (John Gross, The New York Times).