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on 28 March 2015
Loved this but a bit disturbing
J
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on 26 January 2004
This final installment in the 5-novel 'Ripliad' sees the tables turned on Tom Ripley. Living a quiet and comfortable life in Belle Ombre with Heloise and Madame Annette, Tom finds himself the victim of an obssessive American couple seemingly bent on exposing Tom's murder of Murchison six years previously. The Pritchards (or 'Preekhards' as Heloise hilariously calls them) make the hairs on the back of your head stand up as they photograph Belle Ombre, follow Tom to Tangier, threaten, mock and finally inform upon our beleagured anti-hero. Will Tom be able to foil their plans to ruin him? Can his luck hold out for a 5th time?
The triumph of the Ripley novels lies in their knack of seducing the reader to Ripley's point of view. Tom Ripley is a man of contradictions: a man who is capable of bludgeoning someone to death, but squeamish about cooking lobsters; a man who apparently has no conscience, but is equally capable of great tenderness towards Heloise, Frank Pierson, and even Dickie Greenleaf. Is he a psychopath? an amoral pragmatist? or just someone who wants to tend his dahlias in peace and enjoy la dolce vita? Five novels down the line, and I still can't decide...
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If you have enjoyed the Ripley series of books, you will undoubtedly want to read the final book, Ripley Under Water.
This book is a continuation of the story line of Ripley Under Ground, as the title suggests. This book is, however, less engaging and dramatic than Ripley Under Ground.
What Makes Ripley Under Water noteworthy is its boding sense of menace and paranoia. What would it be like to be stalked by someone who wants to do you harm? How would you feel? Those are the themes that are well developed in this book.
An American couple in their thirties, David and Janice Pritchard, move into Tom Ripley's neighborhood. Tom has a slight recollection of seeing them before somewhere. Soon he begins receiving strange telephone calls from someone claiming to be a person Ripley killed many years before. The Americans invite Ripley and his wife for a drink. Ripley goes alone and finds that the couple is obsessed with him, and knows quite a bit about his past misdeeds. The man even threatens Ripley. Soon thereafter the couple is seen outside of Ripley's home taking photographs.
Ripley's annoyed, but trying to stay cool. But when the man shows up in Morocco during the Ripley's' vacation, it's too much. Ripley begins to fight back in typical Ripley fashion. Events escalate when Ripley and Pritchard return to France.
My main complaint about the book is that the end doesn't live up to the suspense that leads up to it. As a result, I was left feeling dissatisfied with the story.
On the good side, the psychological development is very fine. In addition, the book is full of subtle puns and ironies . . . such as Ripley, who has killed so many men being freaked out by having to be in the kitchen while live lobsters are cooked.
Even if you are paranoid, remember that someone may really be after you!
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on 7 September 2003
Tom Ripley is being stalked by a strange American couple who are rather too familiar with how he came into his very comfortable lifestyle.Tom may well be a very empathetic sociopath but he really doesn't want to be pressured over the murder,forgery and deception in his past.A lot of the fun and palpable tension in the book comes from trying to guess just how far Tom can be pushed.A near perfect example of narrative seduction,only when you start to analyse his actions do you begin to see the real cruelty and blank amorality within.A masterpiece.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 15 September 2009
There is only the merest smidgeon of disappointment here, in that some of the events seem rather timely and fortunate. Is Ripley the most fortunate psychopath in existence? In this novel we return to the decidedly unfortunate Mr Murchison, killed by Ripley in Ripley Under Ground the third book of the series, sent to a watery grave in the River Loing, wrapped in tarpaulin. Meddling by a sinister couple who have moved in nearby and for no particular reason seem to have taken a strong dislike to Ripley threatens the exposure of this particular crime. They are disposed of by a most - again - fortunate accident that, frankly, seems highly unlikely. But who am I to quibble? Highsmith - I salute you!

One reads on quite equably, such is Highsmith's magical spell surrounding the Ripley ménage. His complaisant wife, two London chums who pop across to help him, and the redoubtable Madame Annette, who, one must suspect has picked up more than a smattering of English by now, and is, perhaps, not quite as innocent of Ripley's strange career as she seems. Music, painting, delicious meals, a beautiful house, a little light gardening, with the odd murder thrown in - such is M. Ripley's life. Improbabilities aside, one wishes it to long continue. However, sadly, this is the last of the Ripley books.
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on 19 May 2013
I'm a big fan of Patricia Highsmith, but this book was weak and dragged and didn't make a lot of sense. The cops are too dumb not to catch Ripley, who leaves a trail of clues a kindergartner could follow. There was also something so very strange about the dialogue. The original Ripley book was published years and years before this, and although Ripley is in the 80s or 90s now, he appears not to have aged, yet his dialogue and behavior is like it was in the 60s. Nobody talks anymore the way he talks, so it's jarring and unreal. That said, the first book was terrific, as was Strangers on a Train, and my favorite, This Sweet Sickness, a story of obsession, which I highly recommend.
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on 14 April 2010
The Ripley books are engagingly absorbing,even although one can hazard a guess that Ripley will once more "get away with it" given the content of the original book...The Talanted Mr Ripley. One criticism...Ms Highsmith gives meticulous and continuous detail about the food and drink consumed by the main characters. This is somewhat surprising and a little disappointing; an established author need not fall into this novice writer's trap. Her characterisation is masterly and this superfluous embellishment serves merely to detract from the quality of the writing of this otherwise excellent book.
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on 15 January 2011
Patricia Highsmith was not the first crime writer to take as her protagonist a man who was prepared to commit murder to get his own way, nor by any means the last. In the nineteenth century, Arthur Morrison wrote about the villainous Dorrington; today, we have Dexter the serial killer. But arguably Tom Ripley remains the most compelling anti-hero of them all; a pleasant man, but amoral and quite prepared to remove anyone who gets in his way. This book, first published in 1991, is not perhaps the best of the five that Highsmith wrote about Ripley, but it is certainly fascinating. Here we have Tom living the good life quietly at his chateau, when a nosey American couple arrive in the area. Soon he finds himself feeling under threat. Will his past misdeeds be exposed? As ever with Highsmith, the sense of growing menace is really well done. Her skill in balancing Tom's appealing characteristics with his dark side was an enduring strength of the series, and this book has, after twenty years, worn well.

TW Reviewer Martin Edwards - author of the highly acclaimed Harry Devlin Mysteries)
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on 18 August 2016
You need to have read Ripley Under Ground to have any chance of making sense of this book and the whole Ripley sequence probably needs to be read in chronological order. I have to say, though, that the quality suffers as the sequence progresses and this last book is the weakest. Ripley is stalked by an American couple who know that he is a murderer but how they know and why they are stalking him remains a bit of a mystery. I was waiting for a twist in the plot at the end and it never arrived. Actually, the number of people who know that Ripley is a murderer must be in double figures by now. Ripley himself displays his usual sociopathic tendancies but without some of the charm of the earlier books.
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on 11 May 2012
I definately think these five books should be read in order; certainly this one can only really make sense if you've read "Ripley Under Ground". I think these two would make for a good film, especially if it were set in France. I found i lost the image of Matt Damon as Tom as the books progressed!The ending of this book is pretty far-fetched and rather inconclusive though. Highsmith's style of writing is odd, almost childlike at times and small details of description seem included for no purpose - like what Heloise was wearing!
This is not great literature or even a clever who-done-it, but as the final book in the set it's worth a try!
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