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3.4 out of 5 stars
3.4 out of 5 stars
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on 25 May 2014
Second of the Ripley books. Highsmith best thriller writer - you are privy to the thoughts of a psychopath. Have given this series of 5 books to friends as they are so good. Books better than any film made from them.
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on 20 December 2002
This is a good book but it is perhaps not quite as good as The Talented Mr Ripley. How could it be? All the same, it's a rich, compelling story with great locations.
Ripley is more mature here. He is not the gauche boy he was in the previous book who still had so much to learn. Nor is Ripley the underdog - he has fashioned a nice little life for himself in which he enjoys considerable leisure and luxury.
The means by which Ripley has arrived at his new found wealth are criminal and he must exercise further criminality in order to maintain his lovely life. Murder, impersonation, fantastic lies - Ripley is at it again and he must constantly plot, plan and scheme in order to stay ahead of the law.
All this in a sea of superb writing with Highsmith's characteristic sharpness, pace and attention to detail. This book is different to its predecessor, mostly because Ripley is different and his circumstances have certainly changed. I'm not sure that I understand Ripley any better after this book, but then again, his unusualness is part of his appeal.
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on 17 June 2014
After the ingenuity and distinctiveness of The Talented Mr Ripley I really wanted to love this sequel. However, the needy, repressed, delusional title character that made the novel so compelling is missing here. There's an absence of development and consequences. There's no tension, sublety or discernible relationship between Ripley and his wife. There's much exposition and repetition of plot, detail but no depth, showing and telling. The policeman is taken from English archetype. The story goes nowhere, the language is flat and colourless.
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on 7 January 2004
This second Ripley novel sees our 'hero' Tom Ripley settled in France with his wife, Heloise, about 6 years after the Dickie Greenleaf affair in Italy described in The Talented Mr Ripley.
Complicit in a fraud to fake the paintings of the in-fact dead Derwatt, Ripley must take action when the police begin to suspect that the 'new' Derwatts (supposedly painted by the artist while living in seclusion in Mexico) are faked. Donning a fake beard, Ripley makes an appearance as Derwatt at the Buckmaster Gallery in London attracting the attention of a certain American Derwatt collector, Murchison.
Ripley Under Ground revisits the black humour seen first in The Talented Mr Ripley, and begins to develop more fully the complex character of Tom Ripley who now has to contend with combining murder and deceit with his domestic life at 'Belle Ombre'.
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on 22 June 2013
There was a fifteen year hiatus between the brilliantly original Talented Mr Ripley and the second if the Ripilian sequels, Ripley Underground. I was terribly disappointed by this book, in fact it was as mediocre as The Talented Mr Ripley was brilliant. The storyline is riddled with masses of flaws and policemen with single brain cells who fail to corroborate Ripley's version of events and check his unprovable false alibis to ascertain his guilt.
As the story continues you can read the ponderousness in the prose of an author who has lost the plot. The last quarter of the book reads like a struggle of a writer who doesn't have a clue how to finish the story, its monotonous and laboured. The story started off quite promising and the premise of Ripley's involvement with an art fraud was good but the story deteriorated rapidly as it went along until it became utterly ridiculous.
Having read an excellent biography on Highsmith by Andrew Wilson it becomes apparent that Highsmith struggled with her later work and never recaptured the dynamism and creativity of her earlier works. In this book Ripley is chaining neat whiskeys, glasses of wine or some other alcoholic beverage every other page. Cigarette smoking features continuously throughout the book too, with every single character addicted to the habit. Highsmith was in fact subconsciously writing about her own lifestyle, she was both a heavy drinker and a chain smoker. In later works her publishers refused to print her books until they had been heavily re-edited numerous times because they were sub par. I'd conjecture that Highsmith's personal lifestyle took its toll on the quality of her work remarkably as she got older. I'll still read some more of Highsmith's books but I'll stick to her earlier works. I glanced over some of the reviews of the later Ripilian sequels and gleaned that they were even more inferior to this one so I won't be reading anymore of the sequels. It's a real pity in a way that Highsmith belted out another four Ripley sequels when she was a shot writer. For me the sequels detract from the fascinating original and I still believe Tom Ripley is one of the best fictional characters ever created in literature. In the original Ripley was secretive and never told a soul of the murders he'd committed, in this book he's telling all and sundry at the drop of a hat that he'd murdered the American art collector who uncovered the fraud, as if it was of no consequence whatsoever. The sad decline of Highsmith as an outstanding author is no more apparent as when reading this sequel to her greatest work.
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on 7 July 2015
I loved the chutzpah of Matt Damon's Tom Ripley in The Talented Mr Ripley (1999) so was curious to see how it translated into this follow-up, the second in Patricia Highsmith's 'Ripliad' quintet. Ripley has gotten himself involved in an art scam and faces ruin when an American collector threatens to expose it.

There are moments of excitement, yet there's something missing in this sequel. Maybe it's that Ripley has made it -- he's no longer a thrusting young man sharp-elbowedly trying to make his way in the world, but a wealthy husband keen to protect his sedately comfortable life, dabbling at painting, gardening and learning French, never happier than when changing into his pyjamas. Bluntly, he's just not that much fun second time around.

There are elements of implausibility, too: impersonating Derwatt, the dead painter whose art the Buckmaster Gallery is faking, Ripley holds a press conference and allows photographers to snap away: an absurd and unnecessary risk quite at odds with the other precautions he takes -- which again include murder, of course.

In essence: interesting, but not enough to inspire me to plough through the rest of the series: if I read another Ripley novel, I'll probably go back to the beginning.
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on 21 April 2016
Anyone who was introduced to Ripley via the most successful of the films (The Talented Mr Ripley) should enjoy this as it takes his story on with new places and new characters while still at times referencing back to the first story. That said, it's also now a dated crime thriller written and set in the analogue age that could leave you wondering whether you'd have been better to have chosen a more modern read instead.
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on 27 January 2004
Another adventure with Patricia Highsmith’s lovely character Thomas Ripley. This book follows the author’s “The Talented Mr Ripley” so that the reader is already acquainted with most of the protagonists like Dick and Chris Greenleaf, Bernard Murchisson or Tom’s wife Heloise. When Ed Banbury and Jeff Constant, owners of the Buckmaster Gallery in London, decide to open a new show featuring paintings by the famous Derwatt, the situation becomes uncomfortable when the American collector, Murchisson, claims that a painting he bought three years ago is a fake. Knowing that Derwatt died years ago in Greece and that Bernard had been forging paintings by “Derwatt”, allegedly living in a remote village in Mexico, it will take all of Ripley’s talent to clean the reputation of the Buckmaster Gallery, as Murchisson’s visit to London is imminent. Mrs Highsmith’s highly successful ingredients are all present in this novel: crime, horror, humour and suspense.
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This story is a sequel to the "Talented Mr Ripley" that should be read first. Tom Ripley is still living in France, married living what appears to be the life of a cultivated gentleman, but underneath still amoral. This story involves Ripley being involved in the faudulent sale of forged art work through a London Gallery.
The plot is well constructed save one critical aspect that I choose not to reveal since it is critical to the whole plot. Still an entertaining read.
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on 24 March 2015
‘Ripley Under Ground’ offers a new dimension on Tom in the character of his wife and his attitude towards her. He and Heloise are well-matched. As the situations in which Tom finds himself unravel it is amusing to see her reactions. How important is the ending of a novel? I wouldn’t want to give this one away but, suffice to say, you will need to read the next in the ‘Ripliad’ to find out. I think this reflects badly on Highsmith.

Stewart Robertson
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