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on 28 May 2017
The last of the Ripley novels is also probably the weakest. A troubled, rich American youth is hiding-out in France, and hero-worships Ripley... Ripley feels sorry for the boy, and despite exercising all his very shady abilities, is unable to save the boy from his own psychological complexities. The vintage Highsmith potpourri of crookedness, charm, murder, and narrow squeaks, is rounded-off with suicide...
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on 25 May 2014
Superb as usual. Think it was her last of the Ripley books but some say can be read as the penultimate. She really is the best thriller writer, as shown by the number of films made of her books. Do NOT read this before Talented Mr Ripley, Ripley Underground etc - read them in order . Her writing is superb. Books much better than the films - she really takes you into the mind of lead character. Read Two Faces of January and see difference.
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on 18 July 2017
Rather tedious. If Tom really fancied Frank, as Highsmith suggests, why don't they do something about it? That would have provided some interest in an otherwise dull book.
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on 8 February 2002
The Ripley books have become a minor compulsion for me (WHEN will they re-print Ripley Under Water?). Highsmith's prose is clipped neatly as ever and although there is less physical action in this book, there is a lot more going on psychologically. This is not to the work's detriment - Highsmith's style is better suited to subtle proddings of psyches than it is to 'crash!kerpow!' comic book storylines.
I think that the darker undertones of the boy's relationship with Tom are set off starkly agaisnt the ordinariness of every day life that goes on around them. The precise nature of their mutual attraction is simply never set out starkly ...
I think that Highsmith may have used this book to add yet more depth and character to her anti-hero - strangely though the more she tells us about him, the more enigmatic he becomes.
A very subtle, excellent work.
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on 30 August 2006
The five Ripley books are comparable to Updike's "Rabbit" novels: whilst Updike charted the life of an American everyman, Highsmith showed the development of an entirely amoral character who enjoys the fruits of his crimes. This book, the fourth, is written in the early 1980s and incorporates contemporary events (much as Updike did) in this strange account of a young American who seeks out Ripley.

Whilst many of the characters and episodes will be familiar to readers of the earlier books, this is a book written in an entirely different key to the others: it is a strange and surprising tale, presenting a mature Ripley and the book concentrating on his relationship with the boy. Recommended, as indeed are all of the 'Ripliad'
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The Boy Who Followed Ripley will either be your favorite Ripley book or it will be a large disappointment.
If you have not read any Ripley books, I suggest that you start with The Talented Mr. Ripley instead.
Those who will be disappointed by this book will be people who wanted a book just like one of the first three in the series. Those who will be very pleased are those who want to think through the implications of Ripley's character and who he is becoming. I have graded the book as an average of the two likely reactions.
We see a new side of Ripley in this book. He takes a troubled American teen under his wing and mentors him in the way that a friendly uncle or much older brother might. In the process, Ripley reveals more of himself to the boy than to anyone else. Ripley also ends up musing and seeing his own marriage and history in a new light as he understands the boy's problems.
I'm sorry that I cannot go into the story in more detail. To do so would simply spoil the plot development for you.
If you like character development with long stretches of little plot development, this book will be a lot of fun. If you crave the constant action of The Talented Mr. Ripley, this book will drag slowly in long sections for you.
Unless you are ambivalent about the Tom Ripley character, I do suggest that you read the book . . . even if it won't be your favorite.
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on 17 April 2001
As good as 'Ripley Under Ground', and better than 'Ripley's Game'. Nowhere near as good as Highsmith's real classics - 'Strangers on a Train', 'Carol', or 'The Cry of the Owl', all of which are required reading. However, this is still an interesting read for fans of Thomas Ripley, and reawakens some themes from the original 'Talented Mr . . .' It's the icy coldness of Highsmith's 1950s prose that intrigues me, but this novel appeals in a different way, as we see Ripley thaw and unfreeze as 'the boy's' hero-worship of him hits home. Tom begins to relive his attraction to and his own obsessive response to the murder of Dickie Greenleaf. . . Hooray to Vintage for reprinting Highsmith's back catalogue - and hopefully we won't have to wait too long for 'Ripley Under Water'.
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on 28 October 2009
There is no doubt in my mind that the greatest force as a crime author is Patricia Highsmith.
For me she is the single most capable constructor of believable characters.
From the outset the central character Ripley fascinates and enlists our support.
We seem to be drawn to want the dark side of our nature to prevail, and Ripley isn't even that dark. His actions appear more instinctive than premeditated.
In this part of the ongoing Derwatt conspiracy, a young man accidentally falls into Ripley's life and their futures appear tied together in some way. The boy is young 16, an american who has left home after a family loss. The parallels with Ripleys early life gradually emerge and one wonders how close these two protagonists will become.
Another side of Ripley's personality is explored and he transposes into mentor role. He willingly gives up time to look after the lads interests.
In their adventures in Berlin are reflected some of the authors yearning for adventure -to my eye -which seems to serve to endear the reprehensible Ripley still further to the reader.
I liked some of the minor characters too. The enigmatic german Eric, the mysterious yet well connected (with the underworld) Reeves, and the Eastern German Peter, all add up to a classic cocktail of heritage thriller writing and yet - not much happens.
The travelling is well described and the geography seems to be first hand knowledge. What I get very strongly from this book is the propensity from the writer to engage in acting, and if she did I am sure she would prove as capable as she is a writer. The book did not carry me along at the same pace as the earlier Ripleys, but if you like Highsmith and are drawn to her depth and charm then to read this book will give you more insights and. in my case, even more of a wish to have known her while she was alive.
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on 27 November 2015
I have really enjoyed the previous Ripley books in the series but this one is completely different! I notice other reviewers have enjoyed the “psychological” drama but honestly I found it tedious in the extreme. HUGE amounts of the plot are completely unnecessary, they lead nowhere and the level of detail is just plain boring. We do not need to know every detail of who’s in what room where and when and the intricate details of all Tom’s journeys even down to where he parks. Sometimes it might have a bearing on the plot, and of course you think it’s going to build into something, but usually… no. This reminded me of David Walliams’ authoress in “Little Britain” who seems to be getting paid by the word – talk about padding!
As for the hints about Tom’s sexuality… well I know times have changed but even in 1980 did anyone care that much? Pages and pages are devoted to hints, he spends an awful lot of time in bedrooms with other men, there’s a very strange and unnecessary bit of cross-dressing and in the end Highsmith never tells us one way or the other. Did she keep losing her nerve at the last minute?? Just open that closet.
Other reviewers say they have enjoyed finding another side to Tom, or exploring his character more fully, but he’s a completely different person in this book from before, and it's only set a few months after the previous one. Then he was a psychopath and now he’s just a slightly creepy uncle figure.
I’ve read and enjoyed “Cranford” so I’m not averse to a bit of domesticity, but there’s just too much of it in this novel, it’s a short story reworked into a full length novel, and it’s not what I’d expect from Ripley.
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on 15 July 2012
I have read The Talented Mr Ripley a number of times(and loved it) plus one or two of the follow-up books-all some years ago. I happened to come across this one when I had no other reading material to hand in the middle of a sleepless night and it drew me in. The storyline is very thin and it is a credit to Ms Highsmith's style of writing that she can maintain a reader's interest throughout- though, for me, only just.

Interestingly there are gay allusions: Lou Reid's Transformer, Heloise's musing that Frank may be a 'tapette', and citing some of the action in a gay pub. There are also precise descriptions of the men's sleeping arrangements, taking showers etc. She teases us with attraction between Tom and Frank but really just leaves a blank onto which to project fantasies.

The character of Tom is not really consistent with that shown in The Talented Mr Ripley where he exhibits traits of a psychopath. Here he has affection to Frank though I did not understand what motivated him to go back to the USA with him. I felt Frank's exit was not consistent with what we saw of his character.

Overall I found the book OK-just- hence the 3 stars though credit to Ms Highsmith that she is still being read and discussed over 30 years after publication.
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