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Ripley Under Water (1991)
by Patricia Highsmith
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Patricia Highsmith's "The Talented Mr. Ripley" is a modern masterpiece, and widely deemed the very best of her many novels. There have been four sequels, none of which is anywhere near as good as that first work of the series. "Ripley Underwater" is the fifth and last in the Ripley series, and I would rank it marginally better than #s 2 and 3 ("Ripley Underground", and "Ripley's Game"). Yet the plot is implausible, and only a credulous reader will find the ending very believable.
Tom and his French wife Heloise, live quietly near a small French village, where he enjoys his fortunes, and spends his days gardening, playing the harpsichord, and doting on his wife. He becomes targeted by new neighbors, the Pritchards, a couple from the US who learn about his unsavory past and seek to torment and expose him. Early in the story, he gets a chilling phone call from a supposed "Dicky Greenleaf", among the first of his murder victims from the first novel. The phone calls give way to stalking and menacing confrontations, culminating in David Pritchard's search for, and discovery of
The story's strengths come from the suspense and the imaginative plot, but some may consider it to be spoiled by the implausible ending, despite the "just desserts" it entails. Likewise, on reflection, the literal minded reader may wonder how the Pritchards have managed to learn so much about Tom's early exploits (outlined in novels #1 and 2) while knowing nothing about those of #s 3 and 4 of the series.
The prospective reader would do well to have read the second work in the Ripliad -- "Ripley Underground" -- since "Ripley Under Water" assumes a familiarity with its plot and characters. Best of all, start with "The Talented Mr. Ripley", since that's the best way to become acquainted with the charming, likeable and evil protagonist of the series.
I'm going to miss Tom Ripley.
Dredging up the past
Tom's new neighbors cause a splash
persistence pays off.
Belongs to Series
Tom Ripley (5)
Belongs to Publisher Series
Virago Modern Classics (606)
Is contained in
Tom Ripley is quietly living a life of luxury at his chateau at Villeperce, and, as ever, is keeping one step ahead of the law - he has, after all, a past that would not bear too much close scrutiny ... The fifth novel featuring the protagonist Tom Ripley, finds the sophisticated and amoral American expatriate being harassed by David Pritchard, a fellow American whose boorishness marks him as something of Ripley's alter-ego. Inexplicably familiar with all the incriminating details of Ripley's past, Pritchard is determined to expose him. He shadows Ripley's every move, first spying on him at home in France and then following him to Morocco. Tensions build on the return to Villeperce as Pritchard sets out to locate a body Ripley would prefer remain hidden in a nearby river ...
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Melvil Decimal System (DDC)813.54 — Literature English (North America) American fiction 20th Century 1945-1999
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An edition of this book was published by W.W. Norton.