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4.4 out of 5 stars25
4.4 out of 5 stars
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on 3 November 2000
This is the second Ripley novel I have read - and only wish I had found them before. The story opens in an ingenious way. A friend of Ripley's wants a murder ... or two ... committing and is prepared to pay someone well - someone who will not be around too long to tell the tale. Tom Ripley, upper-middle class con man, has to convince an aquaintance he is dying in order that he will be receptive to bribery for the sake of providing for his family after his death. Ripley undertakes to broker the deal (without getting his hands dirty, of course). The plot is set in Europe and is wonderfully evocative of a time when etiquette was still of paramount importance in order to succeed. Ripley is a charmer and succeeds at most things he puts his mind to making even the implausible seem possible. However, it is particularly enjoyable to see such a manipulative cad get caught out when things don't quite go according to plan. Perhaps he has a heart after all! Highsmith is a master at her craft - these novels are still very fresh - they have not dated at all and I recommend them to all murder mystery lovers.
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If you have not yet read The Talented Mr. Ripley and Ripley Under Ground (the weakest of the three first books in the series), I strongly suggest that you pursue those books before Ripley's. There's a continuity of character development that you will miss otherwise.
The premise for Ripley's Game is the most interesting of the first three books in a series: How will a dying man look at morality when he knows his days are numbered? Ripley's Game has a second advantage over The Talented Mr. Ripley and Ripley Under Ground -- there are no plot devices where Ripley fools the same person over and over again with alternate disguises. Another advantage over Ripley Under Ground is that Ms. Highsmith has a new character who can be totally developed in his many complex facets, much as Tom Ripley was so brilliantly in The Talented Mr. Ripley.
The title is particularly clever. In one meaning, it describes one aspect of the plot. Ripley has become interested in how an innocent man might be persuaded through careful psychological nudges to perform an anonymous murder. In the other meaning, Ripley becomes the hunted, the game that killers seek out -- as in famous short story, The Most Dangerous Game. Some will even see a third meaning . . . that Ripley's ready for action.
As the book opens, Tom Ripley's criminal friend Reeves has come up with an implausible idea -- encourage the Italian mafia to run itself out of Hamburg by starting a war between rival families. To do this, Reeves needs an untraceable, innocent-looking killer who will quickly disappear. Reeves spots the possible targets, but cannot think of anyone to do the killings. Although Ripley has nothing at stake, the problem intrigues Tom. He remembers a local owner of a framing shop, Jonathan Trevanny, who has an advanced case of incurable leukemia. How might making the man afraid of dying sooner affect his willingness to kill? The story proceeds from there with many twists and turns that are more realistic than in The Talented Mr. Ripley or Ripley Under Ground.
Before the book is over, you learn a lot about how people create their own situational morality. You will find yourself surprised by the reactions of Ripley, Trevanny and Trevanny's wife. It makes for very interesting reading. I especially enjoyed seeing Ms. Highsmith go back to do more with developing new dimensions of Ripley's character.
The book's main problem with the book is that it usually moves at the wrong pace. The leisurely, untroubled sections are developed at about the same pace as the dangerous action sections are. As a result, the book feels like Beethoven's Ninth Symphony is being played at the exact same average tempo throughout. The contrasts don't work as well with such an approach. In addition, the leisurely parts are too fast and the action parts are too slow.
After you finish this book, take time to honestly think about what you would do if you had been Trevanny. It makes for a series of fascinating speculations to consider.
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on 7 January 2004
This third Ripley novel in a series of five revisits Tom Ripley about 6 months after the Derwatt affair detailed in Ripley Under Ground. Mildly irritated by the tone of a comment made by the host of a party, formulates a little game to draw the unfortunate man, Jonathan Trevanny, into a world of assassination, deceit and moral decadence. The reader is drawn with him, and through the ingenious writing of Patricia Highsmith, comes to see the reasoning within Ripley's mind and even to sympathise with him.
The character of Tom Ripley is a marvellously complex one - we see Ripley at once toy with Trevanny as a puppet, and then step into help him in an act of apparent selflessness. We also get to know the character of Reeves Minot, briefly featured in Riply Under Ground, in more depth. But the real strength of this novel is the character of Jonathan Trevanny who mirrors the reader's initial disgust with Ripley, then their reluctant fascination, and finally their seduction into his psychopathic world.
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on 14 March 2006
In this third volume of 'the Ripleiad," Tom Ripley, still edgy after the risks taken in the Derwatt affair (which is frequently referred to, and refreshed my memory nicely of Ripley Under Ground), is settling back into life at his French place-in-the-country, Belle Ombre, when he is contacted by an old criminal acquaintance who wants two Mafia figures from rival families killed, so the Mob will stay out of his native Hamburg. Ripley, who, the book reminds us, "detested murder unless it were absolutely necessary," is not of course interested in carrying out the jobs himself, but becomes instrumental in finding someone who will. And so the first half of the book becomes a study in persuading an upright citizen to carry out the most unspeakable crimes (clue: it helps if they're terminally ill), and the second half of the book shows what happens when the Mafia want revenge. It's gripping, thrilling, beautifully weighted and paced, and with enough meaty analysis of the personalities and relationships of all those involved to keep it well above potboiler status. A delectable triumph, with a seriously implausible body count. It's also been adapted twice for film, just like The Talented Mr Ripley (though why nobody wants to adapt the intervening volume of Ripley Under Ground is a mystery): a couple of years ago under its own title with John Malkovich as Tom Ripley; and in 1977 by Wim Wenders, as The American Friend. Either guarantees confusion from anyone viewing it as a sequel to Anthony Minghella's The Talented Mr Ripley, so save yourself the effort and read the books instead.
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In fact the third Ripley story (but I have yet to read Ripley Underground). I definitely think that one should have read "The Talented" first so that one knows something of Tom Ripley's background, although this story doesn't feature him as the central character. The plot is, as in all Ms Highsmith's stories, ingenious and involves the commission of some murders of members of two Mafia familiies. To divulge more would be to spoil the story.

The scene is France circa1950. Ms Highsmith paints a wonderful feeling for that time. An engaging story well written. Four stars because I think "The Talented" has the edge.
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on 24 March 2015
Highsmith’s Ripley novels are more than thrillers, not least because they raise intriguing moral issues. Put baldly, Ripley’s ‘game’ is to corrupt a thoroughly honest man. Yet Highsmith has created a character of enduring appeal to readers. Can there ever be extenuating circumstances for killing someone? Well, Highsmith comes up with a variety. ‘Ripley’s Game’ is one of the better plotted in Highsmith’s series of five novels about Ripley. As with ‘Ripley Under ground’, the reader is slightly let down by the ending.

Stewart Robertson
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on 30 November 2013
OMG - this the third of 5 Ripley books is just as gripping as the first. Fabulous writer. Ripley doesn't feature too much at first but he has set something in motion - and when he does feature, the thrill begins. These books are just wonderfully exciting - real page turners. Have never read books before which make my heart pound. Have started 3 friends reading Highsmith and it is great to pass the books around and discuss them. Start at the beginning with Talented Mr Ripley - better than the film.
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on 19 November 2014
This is the third Ripley novel. If you read the first one and you read the second one, you may as well read the third one - especially if you intend to read the fourth one. Admittedly, it is a case of diminishing returns with each successive book, but I have enjoyed them all. This one is set in France and introduces some new characters.

Enjoyable. Familiar. Comforting on a cold night.
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on 11 August 2014
Highsmith has always been able to write brilliantly. Fell in love with her books many years ago and still enjoy them. I have the set of Ripley books and will return to them later in life to enjoy the stories.
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on 16 November 2013
As with The Boy who followed Ripley, (see review)I am now hooked on Patricial Highsmith, and will continue reading her works from now on.
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