Last month I read a three in one volume of mystery/thrillers by Patricia Highsmith. The volume itself is called The Mysterious Mr. Ripley and the three books are: The Talented Mr. Ripley, Ripley Underground, and Ripley's Game. The two books I loved, finding them hard to put down. Although they are more than two hundred pages each I was finishing them in one day each. The third book though was a huge departure from the previous ones. I think Highsmith had been hoping to show what a big fish her Mr. Ripley had become in Europe and therefore set him up against the Maffia: it doesn't work.
The Talented Mr. Ripley
I think I've found a new favorite author. Once I got into chapter two of the book I was hooked. I managed to read most of the book today!
The story walks a fine line between the schemes of Tom Ripley and the people who try to figure out what he has done. There are many times when his plans come close to unraveling and Tom's vulnerability comes to light. Mr. Ripley while certainly tallented is also very lucky.
Ripley Under Ground takes place six years (give or take) after the close of the first story. In that time Tom has matured and settled down. Ideally he would love to live a comfortable life in France with his wife and forget the sins of his past. Unfortunately Ripley's talents lie in forgery and he's been adding to his fortune by selling bogus paintings of a long dead artist. Ripley also hasn't learned to control his temper and he soon finds himself having to clean up after himself again and the police once more investigating his life and his past.
In the third of the Mr. Ripley stories, Tom and his friends take on the Mafia for no obvious reason. While Tom manages to survive because of his luck, things otherwise don't go well. The Mafia is a professionial and highly organized criminal organization. Ripley while clever is an amature. Sure, he's killed a few people and gotten away with it but none of his crimes have been as premeditated as what he attempts in this book. Therefore the story doesn't seem as plausible and it failed to hold my attention as the previous two did.