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1. The Talented Miss Highsmith: The
2. Beautiful Shadow: A Life of Patricia
3. Strangers on a Train
4. Plotting and Writing Suspense
5. The Complete Ripley Novels
6. Those Who Walk Away (Highsmith,
7. The Animal-Lover's Book of Beastly
8. Eleven
9. The Glass Cell
10. A Suspension of Mercy
11. Deep Water
12. The Tremor of Forgery (Highsmith,
13. Patricia Highsmith: Selected Novels
14. The Talented Mr. Ripley
15. The Talented Mr. Ripley, Ripley
16. Patricia Highsmith Omnibus
17. A Dog's Ransom
18. Edith's Diary (Highsmith, Patricia)
19. Tales of Natural and Unnatural
20. Ripley Under Ground

1. The Talented Miss Highsmith: The Secret Life and Serious Art of Patricia Highsmith
by Joan Schenkar
Hardcover: 704 Pages (2009-12-08)
list price: US$40.00 -- used & new: US$6.71
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0312303750
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description

Patricia Highsmith, one of the great writers of 20th Century American fiction, had a life as darkly compelling  as that of her favorite "hero-criminal," talented Tom Ripley. In this revolutionary biography, Joan Schenkar paints a riveting portrait, from Highsmith's birth in Texas to Hitchcock's  filming of her first novel, Strangers On a Train, to her long, strange, self-exile in Europe. We see her as a secret writer for the comics, a brilliant creator of disturbing fictions, and erotic predator with dozens of women (and a few good men) on her love list. The Talented Miss Highsmith is the first literary biography with access to Highsmith's whole story: her closest friends, her oeuvre, her archives. It's a compulsive page-turner unlike any other, a book worthy of Highsmith herself.
... Read more

Customer Reviews (18)

3-0 out of 5 stars "If I were to relax and become human, I should not be able to bear my life" (p. 343). - Patricia Highsmith
Among "highbrow" mystery writers, Patricia Highsmith has few peers - and no betters. Her amoral novels take readers into bizarre worlds - one never feels quite as comfortable about human nature after reading Highsmith.

The Talented Miss Highsmith aims at being the definitive Highsmith biography. Author Joan Schenkar deserves an A+ for research. Readers learn that Highsmith left a massive trove of papers and that Schenkar spent years combing those files.

Schenkar did an excellent job of researching Highsmith's family and her childhood. Also, the book explains how the culture of 1940s Manhattan helped shape Highsmith.

For all of the research that went into the book, it rates no better than three stars for several reasons.

One major problem is length. At 559 pages, the book frequently demands too much effort for too little reward. Schenkar badly needed an editor to help her cut the book's length and to stop her from running off on tangents. (For instance, Chapter 33 is a mind-numbing list of some of the "stuff" in Highsmith's archives).

Fans will also be disappointed that Schenkar spends relatively little time on Highsmith's writing. For example, in Schenkar's treatment of Highsmith's The Tremor of Forgery - a much-praised novel - the reader gets just a few paragraphs about the book and almost no analysis. At times, Schenkar is lukewarm on Highsmith's art. Consider: "Her [Pat's] often unlovely prose puts one flat foot in front of the other, levelling every action with the same even tread..." (p. 466).

Schenkar's true focus in The Talented Miss Highsmith is "Pat's" messy personal life and her many lovers. In this account, Pat certainly is unlikeable; she is racist, anti-Semitic, misogynist, alcoholic, and just plain mean. Of course, if Pat was an awful person it is not Schenkar's fault, but readers tire of the accounts of Pat's bad behavior long before the book ends.

In the end, fans will be glad that they read The Talented Miss Highsmith. But we are still waiting for the definitive Highsmith biography.

5-0 out of 5 stars Art Imitates Life
Easily this is one of the best biographies I've ever read and decidedly one of the standouts in a year of some fine new releases.
This book is a curious hybrid which analyzes Highsmith's work and marries it with her life story in an interesting way. I have read two of her novels STRANGERS ON A TRAIN and THE TALENTED MR. RIPLEY and they were classics in the art of suspense. Highsmith had a uncanny talent for nailing a psychopathic personality and committing it to paper with all the malevolence she could muster up. Her evil characters were not merely evil heavies; they were crafty manipulators who were high practitioners in the finely tuned art of control and domination.
Joan Schenkar has introduced her reader to not only the characters in the world of Patricia Highsmith's fiction, but to Highsmith herself. And this is where it gets really good. Highsmith the human being was one of the lousiest, least sympathetic people I've ever encountered in a biography. Her story is compelling, but she is so bereft of fundamental niceness that it is hard to ever muster up true empathy for this witch. She is quite the manipulator and a rival equal to any of her most devious characters. A daughter of the Jim Crow south, she is a hater of jews and blacks, an alcholic, and a psychopath of the first order. She uses and abuses people and shows no regard for human beings, that is, except herself. She is cheap in the most curious of ways, is a lesbian that pursues her prey like her more notable fictional characters, and has an imperious way of approaching life.
Author Schenkar has exactingly assembled a lot of Highsmith info. from her papers, and interviews with friends/associates to develop a character that is as worthy as any of the ones in her books and no doubt the basis for her main characters/evildoers in her books.
Quite often when a writer becomes the subject of a biography, there is a tendency to draw a connection between the writer and his/her characters or background. While this is present, the biographical information sufficiently speaks for itself to establish the obvious. Highsmith was such a curious and unrepentant sort, that the element of genius stands out like a sore thumb. I found myself enjoying her skill and talent, but kept wishing she wasn't such a perverse character in her own life. Like her characters, she was repulsive and creepy but also fascinating.
While I highly recommend this book, I encourage you to read the other detailed reviews which are way better than this one so you can decide if you want to invest the time and money to take on this book.

4-0 out of 5 stars A writer's life.
The Talented Miss Highsmith by Joan Schenkar is an exhaustive biographical study destined to be recognized as the definitive examination of the unusual life led by Patricia Highsmith (1921-1995).Schenkar's research is thorough, wide ranging, well documented and fully consistent with Highsmith's own thoughts, impressions, memories and feelings retrieved from beyond the grave by virtue of the lengthy and detailed journals and diaries she compulsively maintained throughout her adult life.

Instead of giving a strictly chronological account of Highsmith's life, Schenkar divides the book into chapters each of which is devoted to a particular theme.Within each chapter, events occurring at disparate stages in Highsmith's life are discussed in the context of how they relate to the theme at hand.This makes for a fair amount of repetition as various aspects of the same life event are covered within multiple chapters.

Highsmith's life was every bit as strange as the fiction which brought her fame and wealth.A lesbian with countless lovers, she never did find her soulmate.An ambitious, social butterfly in 1940s Manhattan, she ended her days some 50 years later as a reclusive curmudgeon in a tiny town in Switzerland where her main concern was minimizing her tax bill.A chain smoking alcoholic who hated and eventually cut off contact with her own mother, she displayed a lifelong pattern of alienating friends, lovers and business associates with bizarre behavior, callous insults, and stubbornly held ethnic prejudices.

One comes away from this biography with a view of Patricia Highsmith as a profoundly unhappy woman who was selfish, miserly, incredibly self-centered, petty and hateful.Ultimately, it was this inner darkness which enabled her to produce the very dark, disturbing, (dare I say it) Highsmithian fiction which serves as her legacy.

5-0 out of 5 stars rigorous, yet lively and perceptive
I thoroughly enjoyed Joan Schenkar's life of Patricia Highsmith, and consider it one of the best biographies I have ever read. For me, it ranks with Richard Ellmann's biography of Oscar Wilde. Schenkar provides a fascinating structure for telling Highsmith's life; one that replaces the conventional chronological approach with a narrative that assembles psychological traits and life events into larger themes. What she accomplishes with this structure is a portrait of Highsmith that is multi-faceted, complicated, and ambivalent, in other words, true to life. For the record, Schenkar is considerate enough to offer a chronological summary, at the end of her book, for those readers interested in "just the facts." Schenkar's research is impeccable, her style lively, perceptive, and humorous. Would that all creative artists might have a biographer like Schenkar!

1-0 out of 5 stars Joan Schenkar is a joke
Stick with the Andrew Wilson biography. Joan Schenkar is exactly the kind of self-serving moralistic revisionist Highsmith satirises in her vicious and hilarious crime novels. Shenkar's prose cannot hold a flame to the late great Patricia Highsmith. "Beautiful Shadow" by Andrew Wilson is the biography to go for - it is thoughtful, empathetic with enough detachment to make you feel that you are getting a great portrait of the subject, rather than a self-portrait of a talentless hack trying to draw attention to herself by "outrageous" research. Really, Joan Schenkar, your book is rubbish, and you by sitting in childish and counterfeit judgment, are a joke. Tom Ripley would know what to do with you. Oh, and just as a post-script, being anti-Israeli is NOT the same as being anti-semitic. And if you want to see how a great writer can handle this sort of complex issue, read "The Tremor of Forgery" by Patricia Highsmith. In fact, read anything by Patricia Highsmith before buying this book. ... Read more

2. Beautiful Shadow: A Life of Patricia Highsmith
by Andrew Wilson
Hardcover: 534 Pages (2003-07-15)
list price: US$32.50 -- used & new: US$12.63
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: B003R4ZL1O
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
The first and highly anticipated biography of the author of such classics of suspense as Strangers on a Train and The Talented Mr. Ripley.

The life of Patricia Highsmith was as secretive and unusual as that of many of the best-known characters who people her "peerlessly disturbing" writing. Yet even as her work - her thrillers, short stories, and the pseudonymous lesbian novel The Price of Salt - have found new popularity in the last few years, the life of this famously elusive writer has remained a mystery.
For Beautiful Shadow, the first biography of Highsmith, journalist Andrew Wilson mined the vast archive of diaries, notebooks, and letters that Patricia Highsmith left behind, astonishing in their candor and detail. He interviewed her closest friends and colleagues as well as some of her many lovers. But Wilson also traces Highsmith's literary roots in the work of Poe, noir, and existentialism, locating the influences that helped distinguish Highsmith's writing so startlingly from more ordinary thrillers.

The result is both a serious critical biography and one that reveals much about a brilliant and contradictory woman, one who despite her acclaim and affairs always maintained her solitude.
... Read more

Customer Reviews (9)

5-0 out of 5 stars An amazing account
Awesome to step into the aura of an amazing and colourful woman so full of life. A descriptive and frighteningly personal biography

5-0 out of 5 stars A fascinating read!
After reading all 22 of Highsmith's novels, I devoured this book about her life. An absolutely fascinating read, highly recommended if you're a fan of her writing. She had an incredibly interesting life.

4-0 out of 5 stars very good treatment of a fascinating subject
Beautiful Shadow is a well documented, well written, and thorough enough account of the life of Patricia Highsmith. It treads that most precarious ridge of balancing excellent detail without bogging down narrative action.

But perhaps it is simply because Highsmith is such an interesting figure that is the foundation of this biography. This biography is a thorough account of Highsmith's life from birth to death, with excellent chapters on her life as an expatriate in England, France, and Switzerland whereas Marijane Meaker's previous treatment was the thinly disguised novel that was only a chapter Highsmith's life: her U-Haul lesbian tale"Highsmith: A Romance of the 1950's."

The biography flinches not from Highsmith's prickly personality, alienation of friends, alcoholism, later dementia, and dysfunctional family but all this dirty laundry is a contrasting backdrop to a successful and at times genius career as a writer. In addition, it does appear that Highsmith had long periods of relative stability in both romance and platonic friendships, particularly in rural France.

Mercifully, Highsmith's being a lesbian is only part of the story, and neither overwhelms her full biography, nor becomes the only focal point. Rather, in contrast, Highsmith's craft and careful consideration of money matters are what really drive this biography of one of the 20th century's most fascinating and complex writers.

2-0 out of 5 stars Highsmith brilliant writer; Wilson poor biographer
I am a serious Highsmith fan and have read many literary biographies...and, unfortunately, find Wilson's to be an extremely poor and disappointing example. Granted, PH had very many affairs, but Wilson treats them in a rushed, perfunctory way, so that I often couldn't determine how one relationship ended. For example, Highsmith's entire affair with Lynn Roth, which lasted for nearly a year in the early 50s, is dispatched with two lines of text. Similarly, a passionate affair with Ann Clark is suddenly defunct, with no explanation other than Wilson's usual default that PH chose women who were bad for her. I found the psychologizing generally unilluminating and tedious--who could not determine from PH's novels that she was obsessed with identity and duality? Wilson, however, hammers at this repeatedly, combined with his interest in her poor relationship with her mother and its links to her romantic and sexual life. The most apt words I can think of for the book are "inert" and stagnant" -- unfortunately it becomes a tedious sewing together of summaries of her many novels with superficial and repetitive filler. I don't know if Wilson needed to do more research or needed greater depth and sensitivity in recounting PH's life (he's a journalist, and this book does read in a very rapid, just-the-facts way), but to me the book is enormously unsatisfying. It compares very poorly with, say, Nancy Milford's biography of Edna St. Vincent Millay.

5-0 out of 5 stars Compelling, thoughtful and insightful portrait
This is a stunning biography -- well written, well researched (exhaustive) and well structured. Patricia Highsmith helped Andrew Wilson by generating a detailed journal of her life but this biography uses that as a foundation, not the complete story. This is a terrific overview of one of the most under-rated crime / mystery / fiction writers of the century. Sure, Highsmith didn't always hit the mark. But she took chances, she probed her inner pscyhe, which was dark and tortured, and used it as a springboard for the over-arching point of view for her writing and for plotlines and characters. Any writer out there who is stuck for ideas, read this. Highsmith, it seemed, trained herself to dig deep into her imagination and subconcious for ideas -- at the same time as she consumed small newspaper tidbits and larger themes from the news to generate material.I had read all her major novels and a few of her short stories, but had no idea the pace she kept at producing fiction, particularly short stories. This biography is also an unflinching look at somebody who followed nobody else's model and who found a way to live as herself in a very uncomfortable world. I've never met (on page) anybody who was so productive and so self-destructive, who studied relationships in fiction and couldn't maintain one in private. I think Wilson's work here is masterful and represents a significant contribution to 20th century writing and authors. ... Read more

3. Strangers on a Train
by Patricia Highsmith
Paperback: 256 Pages (2001-08)
list price: US$13.95 -- used & new: US$7.28
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0393321983
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
A major new reissue of the work of a classic noir novelist. With the acclaim for The Talented Mr. Ripley, more film projects in production, and two biographies forthcoming, expatriate legend Patricia Highsmith would be shocked to see that she has finally arrived in her homeland. Throughout her career, Highsmith brought a keen literary eye and a genius for plumbing the psychopathic mind to more than thirty works of fiction, unparalleled in their placid deviousness and sardonic humor. With deadpan accuracy, she delighted in creating true sociopaths in the guise of the everyday man or woman. Now, one of her finest works is again in print: Strangers on a Train, Highsmith's first novel and the source for Alfred Hitchcock's classic 1953 film. With this novel, Highsmith revels in eliciting the unsettling psychological forces that lurk beneath the surface of everyday contemporary life. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (40)

4-0 out of 5 stars Don't talk to strangers!
In many of her thrillers, Patricia Highsmith's primary characters fall into two categories: the unrepentant evil, and the weak-willed who are swept up in their evil. In fact, the line between villain and hero is often quite blurred in her stories in which innocence or good intentions are no protection. For this reason Highsmith is often compared to Ruth Rendell, whose chilling novels of psychological suspense also center around the destruction of unsuspecting innocence caught in the net of evil.

Strangers on a Train starts, suitably, on a train hurtling towards Texas, when young Guy Haines, budding architect, is caught up in a conversation with young Charles Anthony Bruno, inebriated and charming scion of a wealthy family.Pretty soon it becomes apparent that Charles is up to no good as he proposes that he and Guy become partners in the perfect crime.Charles says that if he kills Guy's unloving wife and Guy kill's Charles nasty father, both killers will get away scot free since there will be no way a motive can be proved or the killer traced. Guy, appalled by the plan, but too drunk to know how to firmly reject it, leaves Charles, thinking the whole scheme will blow over in the morning. What Guy doesn't know is that Charles is a psychopath, completely amoral, and drawn to the handsome Guy in ways that neither can fully or willingly comprehend.

This story is exciting, tense and disturbing, even when we know who will commit the crimes well before the novel has ended.Part of the excitement comes from Highsmith's skillful handling of character, setting, and dialogue that make even the improbable storyline seem grimly possible. There is even a kind of dark humor that moves the story along when the stomach-churning suspense draws a brief breath. And although written more than 60 years ago, Strangers on a Train still seems very current, perhaps because Highsmith's insight into a certain type of warped human personality and behavior can be found in every era of human history, including our own.

5-0 out of 5 stars Her first and best book
I've read "The Talented...", "A Suspension..." and most of her short stories, but this is far the best one. There are characters in crisis, suspense, you name it.

4-0 out of 5 stars It's Pointless...
... for me to review this very successful 'murder' novel. There's no question that it's several cuts above most genre fiction in writing quality, though it lags and sags at times. But 'murder' novels ain't mah thang, dudes and dudettes! The first murderer of Patricia Highsmith's literary career, Charlie Bruno, declares that 'anyone could murder'. The stranger on the train to whom he makes his declaration has some 200 pages to reluctantly come to agreement. And I agree, intellectually. I've read Dostoyevsky's Crime and Punishment, and Dreiser's An American Tragedy. The first novel I tried to write myself was about a lawyer who crusades against capital punishment yet murders an abortionist in the last paragraph. But perhaps, to paraphrase the poet, "after the first murder novel, there is no other." Anyway, I found myself deadly bored through most of Stranger on a Train, for which I knocked off a star. Neither Patricia Highsmith, who died in 1995, nor her adoring fans will give a [...] d^mn.

There is a 1950's sensibility to this book that is as hip as a mid-century ranch house and an Eames chair.And the homo-erotic strain between Guy and Bruno is fascinating.There is a strong sense of repression in this book--but not a repressed writer--it comes across as an awareness of a repressed reader.Everything is subtle but wicked.Like a steak knife disguised as a butter knife.
The book moves swiftly and makes your heart race.Each murder is quietly thrilling, yet the tension is never greater than it is in the time following the deaths.

2-0 out of 5 stars A Disappointment
Written in 1950, Patricia Highsmith's Strangers on a Train is said to be a classic among thrillers. Alfred Hitchcock even based a movie on this book. But I was disappointed.

Strangers on a Train begins with two men meeting on a train. One immediately becomes obsessed with the other and stalks him throughout most of the rest of the book.

Most of the rest of Strangers on a Train also consists of the other man's thoughts, his feelings of guilt that seem to be driving him crazy. He feels guilty about actions he took that he feels were forced on him. And his many thoughts that went on and on and on with endless repetition were monotonous and difficult to read.

I'm also not a fan of this book because everyone but one detective is stupid. Granted, because the book was written in 1950, the dialog sounded exactly like a 1940s movie, in which I always thought characters (with the exception of Jimmy Stewart's characters) didn't talk the way people really talk. But that isn't to say they sounded stupid. In this book, they do.

The man being stalked, especially, makes one stupid decision after the other. And then, in spite of the stupidity of everyone in the book, the one exception I make, a detective, miraculously understands what happened with the two strangers on a train. Yet nowhere are we told how he figures it out other than his prior understanding of the stalker.

Although I thought I saw all the Alfred Hitchcock movies, I don't remember seeing this one. I'd like to see what Hitchcock did with it.
... Read more

4. Plotting and Writing Suspense Fiction
by Patricia Highsmith
Paperback: 160 Pages (2001-09-08)
list price: US$14.99 -- used & new: US$5.50
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 031228666X
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
Patricia Highsmith, author of Strangers On a Train, The Talented Mr.Ripley, Found In The Street, and many other books, is known as one of the finest suspense novelists. In this book, she analyzes the key elements of suspense fiction, drawing upon her own experience in four decades as a working writer. She talks about, among other topics; how to develop a complete story from an idea; what makes a plot gripping; the use (and abuse) of coincidence; characterization and the "likeable criminal"; going from first draft to final draft; and writing the suspense short story.
Throughout the book, Highsmith illustrates her points with plentiful examples from her own work, and by discussing her own inspirations, false starts, dead ends, successes, and failures, she presents a lively and highly readable picture of the novelist at work.

Anyone who wishes to write crime and suspense fiction, or who enjoys reading it, will find this book an insightful guide to the craft and art of a modern master.
Amazon.com Review
Suspense, like other genre fiction, is often assumed to be inferior in quality to more "serious" fiction. A suspense story can be every bit as well-wrought as any other, argues Patricia Highsmith in Plotting and Writing Suspense Fiction. To show how, Highsmith focuses as much on her failures as on her successes. Amid discussions about growing ideas, story development, plotting, first and second drafts, and revisions are anecdotes from Highsmith's own career. Highsmith (Strangers on a Train) admits to editing with crayon (doing so "gives one the proper cavalier attitude"), napping on the job (it helps solve problems), and having written one "really dull" book. Though this book is slim, there are some lovely thoughts on such issues as creating a murderer-hero with "pleasant qualities," "stretch[ing] the reader's credulity," and using "as much care in depicting the face and appearance of ... main characters" as a painter would with a portrait. --Jane Steinberg ... Read more

Customer Reviews (19)

5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent technical guide
Especially the chapter "Snags." She has a lot of practical information for beginning writers. She uses her own books as examples, but also to describe the rewriting for publication process. Some of the advice is particular to suspense writing, but much is helpful for any fiction writer.

4-0 out of 5 stars A wonderful useful little gem
Please forgive the horrible unflattering photograph of Patricia Highsmith on the cover.

This is an excellent brief treatment of craft by a successful author whose technique is unquestionable. Perhaps comparable as a writer's diagnostic tool of technique to H. P. Lovecraft's "Supernatural Horror in Literature" this is a writer's book addressing other writers.

Highsmith treats the subjects of growing suspenseful ideas, story development, plotting, first and second drafts, and revisions which she illustrates with candid and wonderful anecdotes from her won writing life. She is also a refreshingly candid self-critic and speaks of failure as well as success, but analyzes "why?"

A wonderful useful little gem.

2-0 out of 5 stars Mostly for Highsmith fans
I found this book enjoyable to read, but not very useful as a practical guide. Written almost like an interview, Highsmith details the writing of her various books and short stories. If you're a fan of hers (as I am), these stories are entertaining since they show the genesis of her ideas and insights into her writing.

However, it is difficult to see how many of her suggestions could be applied outside of the situation where she used them. It was almost as if she provided great anecdotes, but couldn't render general principles that would be useful in varied writing circumstances. If you're a Highsmith fan, you'll really enjoy this small book. If you're looking for general writing advice, another book might serve you better.

3-0 out of 5 stars No Suspense Here
Patricia Highsmith is a fine writer of suspense fiction, one of the better ones of the past generation.But, Plotting and Writing Suspense Fiction has none whatsoever: no intrique, no gueswork at all as to where she is going. Rather, she is only frank, brutally honest, and above all, to her credit, refrains from Lordly preachments as to the craft of writing in this genre.There are no exercises, no checklists, no workbook atmosphere, not the remotest hint of finger waving, teacherly reprimands surrounding this book. #####I got curiouser and curiouser as I read, wondering when the directional thrust would evolve.It never did.If you're expecting her to tell you to put down the newspaper and turn off the tv, forget it. Instead, she tells you, in effect, if you want to make the world a better place, plant flowers in your front yard.#####The closest she gets to a heartily advocated position in the entire book is in stressing that you must, firstly, write to please yourself.If you've read all the great works in your genre, and are satisfied with your own when you hold it up to the light of comparison, you're probably knocking out good stuff.It all starts there: your own self-satisfaction.Precious wisdom, indeed.#####When I open a book on the writing craft I ecxpect a big variety of things.I ask myself, is it going to be another gung-ho, Gen. George S. Patton entreaty, a kick-ass approach to blowing away all obstacles?Is it going to be a back-to-school lesson?Maybe a biting commentary on the plight of the book publishing business.Are all the barriers going to be highlighted, and followed withurgings which subconsciously cause a sense of desperastion, like borrowing last-resort money to save the family farm?.You just never know what the "slant" will be.It could be any one of a number.#####Highsmith opts for a sort of combination semi-autobiography / musings-on-writing treatise.Inspirational?No.Educational?Not really.A good look at the bell-shaped curve of life from a talented writer's viewpoint?Yes.It's like getting an Insider's look, from the outside. Whatever value you might get from this perspective is for only you to determine.

5-0 out of 5 stars Interesting and entertaining
I'm glad I bought this book.As an author of suspense myself, I found it very worthwhile.It won't teach you how to write--but I've found no book can really do that.In the same vein as Stephen Kings book On Writing, it is more an account about how this highly successful author developed her craft over the years, her successes and failures.If you want a how to guide you would be better off with another title.It also enhances the enjoyment of this book if the reader is familiar with Highsmith's books.I found it interesting to know where she got her ideas and how she developed a small incident into a novel. ... Read more

5. The Complete Ripley Novels
by Patricia Highsmith
Hardcover: 1520 Pages (2008-10-17)
list price: US$100.00 -- used & new: US$63.03
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0393066339
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
No lover of American literature should be without this stunning boxed set of all fiveRipley novels.

TheComplete RipleyNovels—a first-time,boxed collection of the entire Ripley series—is a cause for critical and popularcelebration.Its publicationreflects the fact that Patricia Highsmith, "no more a practitioner of the murder mystery genre ... than areDostoevsky, Faulkner andCamus" (Joan Smith, Los Angeles Times), has finallyentered the American literary canon.Marginalized throughout her career as a mere thriller writer, Highsmith hasexperienced a remarkablerenaissance since her death in 1995.Now Highsmith fans and new readers alike can find these fivenovels—The Talented Mr. Ripley,Ripley UnderGround, Ripley's Game, TheBoy Who FollowedRipley, and Ripley Under Water—all housed under one roof inthis brilliantly designed,highly collectibleedition.

... Read more

Customer Reviews (8)

5-0 out of 5 stars Among the greatest......
Patricia Highsmith's Ripley books are among the greatest "crime fiction" ever written. Like all great books in the genre they surpass it and are simply great literature. Like her fan Graham Greene Highsmith was one of the strangest and best writers of the 20th century.

5-0 out of 5 stars Great set of Books
Patricia Highsmith is a great writer and her Ripley novels are proof of that. Tom Ripley has a way of making you like him then takes you to the very depths of human depravity. The locals are wonderful and the twists and turns are unexpected. The best mystery novels I have read in years

5-0 out of 5 stars Literate mysteries
As a 60-something boomer who decries the decline of the American/English language, it is always a pleasure to find delightful mysteries written by an excellent stylist.

5-0 out of 5 stars Great Gift
I gave this boxed set to an avid mystery/suspense reader for Christmas and all she has done is talk about it for days. The packaging is terrific and although I have never read any of the novels my friend is just loving it -- so much so she just had me order the DVD of The Talented Mr. Ripley for her husband for Christmas.

5-0 out of 5 stars Set for Collectors, not readers
This is a very high-end boxed set collection of all of Highsmith's Ripley novels. They are all matching in black, gray and red, with spines that spell out the word Ripley in large letters. The books themselves have been around for 50 years or so, and have plenty of fans (and probably a few of the Matt Damon movie). If you haven't read them, or seen the movie, Ripley is a highly immoral character, willing to lie, cheat, steal and kill his way into what he wants, and out of the situations he finds himself in. This collection is more for the collector, than the reader. They will look great on your shelf but you may find yourself grabbing a paperback of the book just because you don't want to crack the spine on these. (Though at only $20 apiece, its a great value per book.) ... Read more

6. Those Who Walk Away (Highsmith, Patricia)
by Patricia Highsmith
Paperback: 264 Pages (1994-01-18)
list price: US$13.00 -- used & new: US$4.99
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0871132591
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Product Description
The honeymoon is over, and the bride is dead. The grieving husband convinces the police in Rome of his innocence, but has no such luck with his father-in-law, who shoots him at point-blank range and leaves him for dead. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (11)

5-0 out of 5 stars Highsmith at Her Very Best
Those Who Walk Away is Patricia Highsmith at her very best. She throws her reader into the middle of an ambiguous, but charged, situation; the wife of a young man named Ray Garrett has just committed suicide. The young woman's father, Mr. Coleman, blames Garrett for her death and swears to take a bloody revenge. The civilized Garrett, meanwhile, wants only to work things out with his former father-in-law.

Highsmith focuses on the sources of evil and on our subjective reactions to evil. It will come as no surprise to her regular readers that many characters have no sense of morals and there is no sense that adopting a moral code would make a difference in any event. More specifically, the juxtaposition of the "vicious" Coleman and the "innocent" Garrett is a key to the novel; Highsmith suggests that the differences in these two men may not be as great as one might suppose at first glance.

The City of Venice co-stars in this novel. I've been fortunate enough to visit and I enjoyed reliving that experience through the novel. Highsmith knows Venice well. She contrasts the relatively-poor, hard-working Italians and the aimless, wealthy expatriates who vacation in Venice. Unfortunately, I think that the novel will not be as rich for those readers who have not been to Venice.

Highsmith had no betters in the world of suspense novels and Those Who Walk Away is among her very best novels. Potential readers should be aware, however, that Highsmith will force them to make a mental effort and she provides no easy answers in the end. Throughout her career, Highsmith smashed the clichés associated with the old "private-eye"-style suspense novel.

I highly recommend Those Who Walk Away.

4-0 out of 5 stars Revenge of the Father-in-Law
Patricia Highsmith has a unique niche in the literary world: while not necessarily a mainstream author, she is definitely one of the finest crafters of fiction.Her novels are full of seedy characters who, despite their dastardly actions, become heroes or antiheroes, making readers root for the unlikeliest of people.Yet through these characters she offers examinations of the true motivations behind people's thoughts and actions, laying bare the ugliness that resides in everyone.

On the surface, "Those Who Walk Away" may remind readers of "The Talented Mr. Ripley" - a murder in an Italian city that is covered up, suspicious actions and circumstances surround the characters involved, and various recollections of what happened don't add up and cause further misery.Yet this novel focuses on an attempted murder, as Edward Coleman attempts to kill his former son-in-law Rayburn Garrett.Coleman believes that Ray did not do enough to prevent his daughter from committing suicide and wants nothing more than to get Ray out of the picture.Ray is desperate to explain himself to Coleman, and although he swears he did all he could to help his wife, he still feels guilty without being able to explain why.When Coleman's first two attempts to kill him are failures, Ray takes to hiding himself in Venice, arousing suspicion around Coleman, and setting the stage for a roundabout game of cat and mouse.

"Those Who Walk Away" is a fast-paced thriller, as Highsmith deftly weaves back and forth between the two main characters.Neither of these men are particularly likeable, nor is any substantial reason given for their actions: Ray tries to escape from Coleman, yet doesn't turn Coleman into the police, even going so far as to lie about the previous attempts on his life.It reads almost as if Ray has an ulterior motive, as if he wishes to be killed by his former father-in-law.After such a build up, with each man trying to one up the other and make the other suspicious to the police, the ending feels a bit rushed and inconclusive.Yet as usual, Highsmith offers up a unique story that solidifies her position as one of the greatest American writers.

2-0 out of 5 stars Glutton for Punishment
As I must have been to keep reading this book. Ray is a young American in Venice whose very young, very rich wife has just committed suicide.He's not too upset, and his wife is not the focus of anything, but his rude, demanding father-in-law is upset and is the focus. His father-in-law Ed blames Ray for the suicide of his daughter. He attempts to murder an unsuspecting and trusting Ray. Ray is surprised by this, but survives and wants to track down Ed and "explain" his marriage. To a murderer.

The rest is more attempts on Ray's life and his not learning his lesson.He finally fights back but doesn't bother to press charges against Ed when asked to.

Apparently Ray is one who "walks away" from confrontation or doing what is right for society.

5-0 out of 5 stars Why aren't there more books and authors this good?
I recently "discovered" this author after seeing the movie "The Talented Mr. Ripley."Since then, I've been raiding the library searching for more of her titles.All I can say is that she has created a number of masterpieces of suspense.I found this book particularly touching. It had it all--setting, characterization, good plot.Some of her books are not as well-balanced as this one, but they all offer a fine writing style and excellent characterization.I am amazed by her talent.She was recommended to me by someone who knew I enjoy Ruth Rendell, aka Barbara Vine. I think others who read Rendell/Vine will also like Highsmith's works if they aren't familiar with them already.

4-0 out of 5 stars Done Just Right
"Those Who Walk Away" is a concise, fast reading novel of low-keyed suspense. The background is an appropriately gloomy wintertime Venice. Ray, the key character, has lost his wife to suicide. Ed is the unforgiving, not to mention self-centered, father in law who blames Ray for his daughter's death and tries to kill him.Ray pursues Ed through the canals, back streets, cafes, gondola rides and fancy hotels of Venice to clear his conscience and calm Ed down.The embittered Ed has none of this and chases Ray in the same fashion. Both find atmospheric Venetian "hiding places". To use a movie term, Highsmith makes use of an excellent supporting cast: Signor Ciardi, Inez, Luigi the gondolier and Elisabetta almost steal the show from the main characters.Highsmith also pulls the reader into the plot quickly, a talent of hers. We are involved from page one! The ending, which no reviewer should reveal, is smooth and satisfying. To fully enjoy the tale, the reader must surrender credibility on 2 points: 1) Those "meetings" between Ed and Ray are truly coincidental and 2) The Venetian police, as personified by Detective Dell'Isola, ask few questions and press few charges. I would give the author her license on those points and enjoy "TWWA" on its own merits. A closing question: Did Ray really let a nice Italian girl like Elisabetta get away? Did he ever go back to Venice to see her just once more? ... Read more

7. The Animal-Lover's Book of Beastly Murder
by Patricia Highsmith
Paperback: 256 Pages (2002-10)
list price: US$13.95 -- used & new: US$8.17
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0393323668
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

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Following the national bestseller Selected Stories, this fall brings the republication of a gripping Highsmith classic.

Stories from The Animal-Lover's Book of Beastly Murder portray, with incisive humor, the murderously competitive desires of our most trusted companions. In this satirical reprise of Kafka, cats, dogs, and the occasional cockroach are no longer benign elements of a happy home but actually have the power to destroy it. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (2)

4-0 out of 5 stars Furry, fluffy, deadly
Would your beloved cat avenge your murder? Are those adorable hamsters planning to annhilate you? Patricia Highsmith's ingenious collection of tales is fiendish good fun sure to delight any animal lover. The ultimate excersise in anthropomorphization "The Animal Lover's book of Beastly Murder" runs the gamut from darkly funny to tragic, touching and horrifying. Its enough to make you scratch your new kitten behind the ears, give man's best friend an extra treat and maybe take a second look at exactly what those ants are so busy doing in that ant farm.

5-0 out of 5 stars A manly crime that this book is out of print
Why is this book out of print? Why it's so hard to find in America the complete work of one of her finest writters? My copy of Patricia Highsmith's The Animals-lover's book of beastly murders is dated 1975, andit was a british edition. I bought it in Paris in the eighties andinstantly devour it; almost twenty years later, this tales still hunt me.The Animal's lovers of beastly murder its a collection of tales of revengeof the animals against the human beings who explotes them: Rats, pigs,dogs, cats; take their turn getting even with human race. Its not only foranimal's lovers, it works well with animal's haters too. I hate rats andthe tale of a rat's revenge of a Venice'family , with complete work outguide for rats included, still gives me goosebumps. You might need a streakof black humor to love this book, because Patricia Highsmith doesn't writeyour typical horror story. But if you have read and loved her work before,you will find a manly crime that this book is out of print. ... Read more

8. Eleven
by Patricia Highsmith
Paperback: 169 Pages (1994-01-18)
list price: US$14.00 -- used & new: US$8.55
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 087113327X
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

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From the eerily outlandish to the dark and brutal, Eleven presents a gallery of bizarre characters, each driven by strange unspoken urges, whose cumulative effect is at least as unsettling as any of Highsmith's previous novels. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (13)

3-0 out of 5 stars A mixed bag.
This is a collection of 11 Patricia Highsmith stories written over a 25 year period.The stories originally appeared in a diverse sampling of publications running the gamut from Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine to Harper's Bazaar.The best story in this collection is "Mrs. Afton, among Thy Green Braes" and the second best is probably "The Empty Birdhouse".

Potential readers should be aware that two of the stories, "The Snail-Watcher" and "The Quest for Blank Claveringi", are about snails (a long time Highsmith obsession) and would be better suited for inclusion in an anthology of science fiction.

Most of the selections included in Eleven illustrate the author's recurring theme about seemingly ordinary people being capable of horrendous acts.Patricia Highsmith possessed a real knack for manipulating her readers so as to elicit very visceral reactions.In the extreme, such manipulations can be uncomfortably cringe inducing.The two stories in this collection which go the farthest in demonstrating this point are "The Birds Poised to Fly" and "The Cries of Love".Both stories feature characters who display inexplicable cruelty to others in order to satisfy inchoate urges emanating from deep within.

5-0 out of 5 stars Creepy, Unsettling and Fantastic
This is Highsmith's collection of 11 short stories, written from 1945 to 1970, and a phenomenal read. Writing with an economical, non-showy style, she pulls you into the characters, their emotions, and the underlying threat of every story so effortlessly that you mistrust her literary intentions from the first -- and are cursing her name by the end of the story for making your heart pound outside your chest until it's ready to burst. "The Birds Poised to Fly" is a creepy, obsessive little ditty about the nature of infatuation, while "The Heroine" still manages to shock despite the obvious direction of the story. My other favorites were "The Terrapin" about the fate of a turtle and the family who cooks him, and "Another Bridge to Cross" a wonderfully somber and affecting story about loss, disillusionment and the need to go on.

5-0 out of 5 stars A BRILLIANT COLLECTION...
I first became aware of Ms. Highsmith through her wonderful book, "The Talented Mr. Ripley". Although I am not a big fan of short stories, I decided to take a chance on this book, as I so admired the author's talent. I am delighted that I did so, as this book contains a veritable treasure trove of literary gems.

Her stories range from the macabre to the suspenseful. What makes them particularly chilling is that many of them take place in otherwise mundane everyday settings with people who may be either quite ordinary or slightly bizarre, but to whom something extraordinary happens. These are stories that will capture the imagination of the reader. Some even reminded me a little bit of the stories of H. P. Lovecraft, as some of them contain a strong element of horror, crafted, however, in a most delicate, sublime fashion.

These eleven compelling short stories will keep the reader turning the pages of this marvelous little book. It is a book well worth having in one's personal collection. Bravo!

5-0 out of 5 stars A BRILLIANT COLLECTION...
I first became aware of Ms. Highsmith through her wonderful book, "The Talented Mr. Ripley". Although I am not a big fan of short stories, I decided to take a chance on this book, as I so admired the author's talent. I am delighted that I did so, as this book contains a veritable treasure trove of literary gems.

Her stories range from the macabre to the suspenseful. What makes them particularly chilling is that many of them take place in otherwise mundane everyday settings with people who may be either quite ordinary or slightly bizarre, but to whom something extraordinary happens. These are stories that will capture the imagination of the reader. Some even reminded me a little bit of the stories of H. P. Lovecraft, as some of them contain a strong element of horror, crafted, however, in a most delicate, sublime fashion.

These eleven compelling short stories will keep the reader turning the pages of this marvelous little book. It is a book well worth having in one's personal collection. Bravo!

5-0 out of 5 stars A Perfect Taste of Highsmith's Mastery
I am a hardcore Highsmith fan, having read almost every book.This collection is among my favorites.This book has it all... suspense, action, mystery, some confusion, and tragedy. An all-time favorite among the 11 stories is The Heroine.Wow! I reread this story over again and again.It tells of a troubled woman who applies as a nanny for a wealthy family.Concerned about her own psychological status, she doubts that she is "worthy" of taking care of such wonderful kids.As in every Highsmith story, the character becomes obsessed with the role as caretaker and wants to become their "Herione".Anyway, this is a PERFECT first taste of Highsmith.Of course, there are always the bizzare stories, like The Snail Watcher, but I find those most enjoyable. Read the book-- I know you'll love it. ... Read more

9. The Glass Cell
by Patricia Highsmith
Paperback: 288 Pages (2004-06)
list price: US$13.95 -- used & new: US$8.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0393325679
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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At last back in print, one of Patricia Highsmith's most disturbing works.

Rife with overtones of Dostoyevsky, The Glass Cell, first published forty years ago, combines a quintessential Highsmith mystery with a penetrating critique of the psychological devastation wrought by the prison system. Falsely convicted of fraud, the easygoing but naïve Philip Carter is sentenced to six lonely, drug-ravaged years in prison. Upon his release, Carter is a more suspicious and violent man. For those around him, earning back his trust can mean the difference between life and death. The Glass Cell's bleak and compelling portrait of daily prison life—and the consequences for those who live it—is, sadly, as relevant today as it was when the book was first published in 1964. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (3)

5-0 out of 5 stars Strong, if neglected, Highsmith novel
This time Highsmith's microscope is trained on the mind of a man subtly corrupted by imprisonment and betrayal.The plot is straightforward and there's not a lot of action, but nevertheless you can't put the book down--you feel as if you are living the protagonist's life along with him, and it's a relentlessly grim experience.Highsmith proves you don't need a lot of gratuitous violence and melodrama to mesmerise the reader.

5-0 out of 5 stars Just as good as Ripley
I was dissapointed when I discovered that there were no more Ripley books after The Boy Who Followed Ripley and Ripley Underwater.The Glass Cell was my first try at P. Highsmiths other books and I was not dissapointed.
Phillip Carter is unjustly accused of fraud and committed to prison for six years.This page turner puts you right in his shoes as he succumbs to drug abuse (in jail) and suffers through his unbearable time any way he can. Unfortunately prison is not rehabilitory but fragmenting even to Phil's secure psyche and the prison events are shocking and unfortunately all too close to experiences I've heard about.
Upon release he does his own investigating and finds out his wife had been having an affair even before his arrest and uncovers other life shattering facts. The story is exciting with never a dull moment, many unexpected events.
Ms. Highsmith does an excellent job of making this story believable right up to the ending which is as tragic and happy as the events of the story will allow.

5-0 out of 5 stars Dont overlook this one
I'm surprised no one else has reviewed this book, so I am going to put up some comments.If you like Patricia Highsmith's work, you're bound to like this one.Though the mystery is a bit flawed--I don't see why she didn't do more with the thumb injury as a murder clue--the writing and the characterization make this well worth reading. Like all her books, it is much more than a simple mystery, but is also the story of a man who starts out believing in some kind of justice and who gradually becomes corrupted. The hero and his prison experience seem so real that I found my own thumbs aching when he was brutaly tortured by the guards. The book was carried off with a great deal of thought and research about prison life.I also found myself feeling for the hero's sense of injustice and found myself hoping it wouldn't ruin him.But with Highsmith that hope is usually in vain. If you liked The Tremor of Forgery or The Blunderer, I'd recommend this one. ... Read more

10. A Suspension of Mercy
by Patricia Highsmith
Paperback: 224 Pages (2001-08)
list price: US$12.95 -- used & new: US$7.48
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0393321975
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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A major new reissue of the work of a classic noir novelist. With the acclaim for The Talented Mr. Ripley, more film projects in production, and two biographies forthcoming, expatriate legend Patricia Highsmith would be shocked to see that she has finally arrived in her homeland. Throughout her career, Highsmith brought a keen literary eye and a genius for plumbing the psychopathic mind to more than thirty works of fiction, unparalleled in their placid deviousness and sardonic humor. With deadpan accuracy, she delighted in creating true sociopaths in the guise of the everyday man or woman. Now, one of her finest works is again in print: A Suspension of Mercy, a masterpiece of noir fantasy. With this novel, Highsmith revels in eliciting the unsettling psychological forces that lurk beneath the surface of everyday contemporary life. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (13)

3-0 out of 5 stars Love and marriage.
A Suspension of Mercy by the highly acclaimed Patricia Highsmith starts off essentially as a dark comedy in that there's much ado about a murder that hasn't taken place.Not much of real interest happens for long stretches of narrative as characters are methodically introduced and fleshed out to varying degrees.

By design, the first 60% of the book is slow moving and, at times, maddeningly dull.It was Highsmith's intention to show that evil is not something exotic but rather it derives from the very ordinary.That which is monstrous resides in the everyday.Evil lurks in our neighbors, our friends, our family members, ourselves.So, the reader must patiently watch as the characters do unexciting, everyday things even though such mundane activities are often very dull.

The action picks up in the last 40% of A Suspension of Mercy.Here, some real criminality rears its ugly head.But there are problems here as well.More often than not, Highsmith has her characters do things that make little sense and, even more disturbingly, seem completely out of character.That's particularly disappointing since Highsmith's best work is known for showcasing great characters who display highly recognizable personality types and behave in the exact ways such personality types would be expected to behave.

A Suspension of Mercy is disappointingly inferior to Highsmith's best work.Not recommended.

3-0 out of 5 stars Mixed Feelings...
It's a good book, but...

1. Sidney's reasons for being fed up by Alicia are a bit rushed. I would've liked to see more interaction between them to be able to say it was a sick relationship.

2. "The Whip" is more of a cartoonish character, and, to be honest, everytime I had to read about it, I was annoyed.

3. Sidney's character isn't as well developed as other characters in other Highsmith's books. There are interesting details about his personality, but I would've liked to know more about him.

4. The ending, while disturbing, is a bit of a let down. I understand that this novel was written in the 1960's and, perhaps, it was easier to get away with murder, but I can't believe the police could be so naive back then.

However, this is a one of a kind plot and that's why, in spite of all this, I gave it 3 starts. The book has potential to be great, but after reading The Talented Mr. Ripley and Strangers of a Train, it comes off a bit weak.

5-0 out of 5 stars From unbridled imagination to unbridled rage
Patricia Highsmith's strengths have always been the meticulous development of her sociopaths and psychopaths, and her ability to make the monstrous seem ordinary.In "A Suspension of Mercy," Sydney Bartleby is a married writer whose fertile imagination takes over his psyche.An unsuccessful thriller writer, Sydney is constantly bickering with his wife, Alicia, until she decides one day to leave him for a few months and re-evaluate whether she'd like to stay married to him or not.While gone, Sydney pretends that he had murdered his wife, and disposed of her body wrapped in an old rug and buried it in the woods, all ostensibly as research for a future book.His ghoulish imagination takes complete control of him that he starts acting guilty when Alicia's absence becomes a police matter.From Sydney's neighbor to his closest friends, everyone becomes convinced that he did indeed do away with Alicia.Real life and imagined life converge to the degree that Sydney becomes unhinged (if he wasn't already) and dangerous.

I think very few genre writers such as Highsmith can get away with an implausible story (one is immediately reminded of "Strangers on a Train" where two strangers swap murders, and of course, her Ripley series.) And she does get away with these absurdities because in her stories, there's always some undefined terror that's just biding time, hidden in mundane everyday lives, waiting to jump out at just the right Highsmithian moment.I remember reading some article a long time ago that termed this particular ingredient in her books as "commonplace deviancy," which makes them far more disturbing and creepy than those that employ conventional scare tactics."A Suspension of Mercy," like many in her oeuvre, is Kafkaesque with its hopelessness, absurdities, alienation, persecution, and most notably in how its protagonist "invents a struggle."It is at times funny in a biting and sardonic way.Halfway through, the reader doesn't really know whether Sydney's irrational actions mean he's merely carried away with formulating a plot for a future book or if he's truly going bonkers.Either way, it's an absorbing read--a literary thriller with sharply-drawn characters from an acknowledged master of misanthropy.

BTW, there are no happy endings in Highsmith novels (except for "The Price of Salt"), a natural predilection for someone who abhorred the artificiality of justice for the good and punishment for the bad in fiction.Thus, if one wishes such satisfaction, it will not be found here.Highsmith is an acquired taste, I think, for her stories mostly repel by their sheer exaggerated eccentricity, but I'll be darned if they aren't oddly addictive.

5-0 out of 5 stars Brilliant
One amazing book. ASome wonderful sequences, and a slow, painful descent into confusion and misery and all set up by such a simple, clear premise. The ending is so unusual and so violent you feel a palpable sense of shock. The feeling of an "everyman" trying to detangle himself from a mess is as good as anything Hitchcock ever concocted. Wow.

5-0 out of 5 stars Another Strange Psycholgical Treat from P. Highsmith!
A frustrated American author meets and marries an English lady, they move into the English countryside so he can write and think, and their marriage gradually dissolves into sarsastic quips, and trivial complaints. Though this is definitely not new, Hightsmith twists this faltering marriage into a nasty game of hide and seek, where the wife takes an extended disappearing act into Brighton, and her folks call the police to investigate. Meanwhile, frustrated write-hubby daydreams and sometimes tells his friends how he may have done away with her. In a wonderfullyset English landscape, this seeming innocent situation slowly turns frightening, witha fine cast of characters, including the elderly widow,new next door neighbor. For sheer everyday creepiness, Highsmith is ina class of her own in this non-Ripley mesmorizer. ... Read more

11. Deep Water
by Patricia Highsmith
Paperback: 256 Pages (2003-07)
list price: US$13.95 -- used & new: US$8.08
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0393324559
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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The great revival of interest in Patricia Highsmith continues with this work that reveals the chilling reality behind the idyllic facade of American suburban life.

In Deep Water, set in the small town of Little Wesley, Vic and Melinda Meller's loveless marriage is held together only by a precarious arrangement whereby in order to avoid the messiness of divorce, Melinda is allowed to take any number of lovers as long as she does not desert her family. Eventually, Vic tries to win her back by asserting himself through a tall tale of murder—one that soon comes true. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (10)

5-0 out of 5 stars In a League of Her Own!
I've read the Ripley books, her book on writing mystery and suspense novels, which I found excellent, and just recently read Deep Water and found it absolutely hynotic.Highsmith was a marvelous storyteller, understated and brilliant! Just ordered her bio A Beautiful Shadow by Andrew Wilson, looking forward to it.Chill Waters

5-0 out of 5 stars Classic Highsmith
This is classic dark, hilarious, truly scary Patricia Highsmith. Almost as good as the Ripley books, which are so good that they're in a class of their own. Definitely worth reading.

4-0 out of 5 stars think of it more as a deep character study than a mystery..
'Deep Water' is not your typical mystery.Yes, there is murder.But we know who the murderer is and why it was committed.No, there isn't too much in the way of clever detective work. Don't expect any courtroom drama either.But overall the novel has some interesting touches.

In 'Deep Water' the author does a terrific job in making her main characters fully believable.We have a very dysfunctional couple living in idyllic New England.The wife is a lush and a slut.The husband tolerates her behavior so long as he can pursue his harmless intellectual interests.However the author then shows us how and why the husband suddenly revolts, and how the interplay between the couple then heats up in a rather unhealthy fashion.The author is also very keen on how neighbors in a close knit community can turn on each other based on hearsay and "wanting to help".

Bottom line: 'Deep Water' is a brooding character study that engages the reader bit by bit.Little in the way of "wow", but interesting nonetheless.

5-0 out of 5 stars Classic Highsmith
This story is Highsmith at her best. She has a talent for creating killers we can sympathize with and root for. Victor Van Allen is the consumate "good guy" - successful, well respected, intelligent and at times even charming. He is unfortunately married to an unfaithful alcoholic wife (Melinda) who starts crossing the line with her behavior toward Vic and her lovers.

Vic has finally had enough and finds the perfect opportunity to drown Melinda's latest beau. No one, except Melinda, suspects Vic; and as time goes on it appears that Vic has successfully avoided arrest - until Melinda starts a plan of her own that Vic initially notices and minds his p's and q's. Eventually, however, Vic is caught and seems to be more full of hurt pride than guilt.

I enjoyed every minute of it - I read it in one day. Excellent book for Highsmith fans.

5-0 out of 5 stars Patricia Highsmith at her very best
This is Patricia Highsmith at her best: a very good page turner, beautifuly written, with great characters and a very good plot. It starts right away and keeps the suspens on until 3 pages before the end of the book. What is not enough said is that Patricia Highsmith was a great writer, and nobody wrote better thrillers in her time. This is a masterpiece outside of the Ripleyiad, but pretty close to it. Enjoy! ... Read more

12. The Tremor of Forgery (Highsmith, Patricia)
by Patricia Highsmith
Paperback: 264 Pages (1994-01-14)
list price: US$12.00 -- used & new: US$6.68
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0871132583
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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An American writer is sent to Tunisia to gather material for a movie, but when his producer fails to show up, he stays on and works instead on a novel. Intimations of violence soon cast deep shodows, and he finds himself an accomplice to murder. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (29)

3-0 out of 5 stars "The Sea of Doubt"
"The Sea of Doubt" is the title of this book in Italian, which, in my opinion, should've been its original title. Why? Howard is an interesting character in crisis to read about until he starts constantly changing his mind as to whether or not he loves Ina. Besides, after chapter 20, I started to feel a bit bored, like Jensen, everytime Abdullah's murder came up. I understand that Abdullah's murder is "the excuse" to address the moral issues in the book, but since such murder was more like an accident, I couldn't help thinking "let it go and move on!" whenever they went back to it. In the end, the only character I ended up liking was Jensen. OWL's preaching, along with Ina's hypocrisy, couldn't be more annoying and easy to dislike.

I can understand why Graham Greene and The New Yorker considered this to be Highsmith's finest novel, but she's written better books filled with aprehension, suspense and existentialism issues such as "The Talented Mr. Ripley" and "Strangers on a Train". The political, religious, moral and even sex issues addressed in this book make it worth reading, but I would've liked more depth about them. I'd define this book as an existentialist travelogue, because the descriptions of what it's like to be in Tunisia are very thorough (although a bit long-winded sometimes). All in all, it's worth reading, specially if you're a Highsmith's fan. If you've never read Highsmith, don't start with this one, because it's certainly not a "mystery and suspense" book.

3-0 out of 5 stars The stranger variation
Patricia Highsmith's 1969 thriller carries some strong echoes of Albert Camus's L'ETRANGER, but even more of her own THE TALENTED MR. RIPLEY. Like most of her novels, it is about the effects of guilt after a morally questionable act (and also like many of her novels, it is also a study of authenticity as its clever title suggests.). John Ingham, a novelist in Northern Tunisia to write a screenplay on spec, finds himself fully divorced from the context of his New York life and increasingly adrift from his sense of who he is. Highsmith beautifully establishes the hallucinatory aspect of Ingham's life abroad as he finds himself unable to get in contact either with the director friend who commissioned his screenplay or with his girlfriend, and as the problem of crime slowly permeates his life in North Africa. By the time Ingham hurls his typewriter at the head of a local thief sneaking in his room at night you're ready for him to commit such a horrifying act, and pretty curious as to what the consequences will be; but here the book winds down rather than amplifies the suspense. Highsmith is more concerned with what happens to someone from an interpersonal aspect rather than from a legal standpoint after committing such an act, and because Ingham's girlfriend Ina (who eventually shows up) isn't terribly interesting it's hard to care much about what will happen to their relationship. The Arab-Israeli War of the late 1960s is used as a very striking political background to the events of the novel, and the sense of atmosphere in expatriate Tunisia is done fairly deftly.

3-0 out of 5 stars Good - But Unsatisfying
As a fan of Patricia Highsmith, I had great expectations for The Tremor of Forgery.After all, Graham Greene said that Tremor was her best book - and Highsmith's best is excellent, indeed. I regret to say, however, that I walked away from the book with a feeling of mild disappointment.

In Forgery, Highsmith excels in many respects. Her characters are multidimensional. Readers will feel that these characters could, indeed, exist. Highsmith also does a great job of evoking the Tunisian setting; the manner in which each of the Western protagonists reacts to Tunisia reveals much about him or her. Finally, unsurprisingly to Highsmith's fans, she does not lead her readers to any easy conclusions; readers are left to make what they will of the story's murky dilemmas.

Why, then, is Forgery not a complete success? In my opinion, the plot meanders a bit too much. I was engrossed for the first 100 pages, but I kept waiting for the drama to heighten over the last 150 pages. Instead, Forgery lazily creeps to its conclusion. Forgery is unsatisfying because, in some ways, the stakes seem to be too low; too little happens for the reader to feel engaged. Reading Tremor, I thought of critic John Gardner's admonition that fiction should build to some sort of triumph of failure for the protagonist; Tremor does not build to much of anything.

Tremor is worth a look. But it's far from Highsmith's best.

5-0 out of 5 stars the tremors of self
Separated from all that he is, a young writer is tempted to become much that he is not.He is tested, in several ways, with only his own antennae, sensitive to subtle and not-so-subtle moral and ethical malaise to protect him.

The state of mind of the main character has a disquieting, queasy-making effect on the reader.We dread his imminent personal disintegration, right up to the last few pages... when there is an unforced surprise which is a true and strong insight into - there is no other way to say it - how to live one's life.

An extraordinary book.

2-0 out of 5 stars The Tremor of Indecision
Howard Ingham is an American writer in Tunisia, sent there to write a movie script. Luckily he has received a large advance and is staying in a hotel waiting for the arrival of the actors and director/cameraman. He's also waiting for a letter from his girlfriend Ina. Unfortunately, before he arrives, the director commits suicide after a short affair with Ina, but Howard stays on in Tunisia, unable to get going with his life. He makes various and assorted friends and Ina travels from New York to visit him. He decides he's crazy in love with her, then decides he isn't. He defends himself against a burglar, then is made to feel guilty about it. Howard can't really decide how he feels. I know how I felt: bored. Every meal, every can of beer is described.

There is one good thing: the dog comes back! ... Read more

13. Patricia Highsmith: Selected Novels and Short Stories
by Patricia Highsmith
Hardcover: 672 Pages (2010-12-06)
list price: US$35.00 -- used & new: US$23.10
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Asin: 0393080137
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"Patricia Highsmith's novels are peerlessly disturbing . . . bad dreams that keep us thrashing for the rest of the night."—The New YorkerThe remarkable renaissance of Patricia Highsmith continues with the publication of Patricia Highsmith: Selected Novels and Short Stories, featuring two groundbreaking novels as well as a trove of penetrating short stories. With a critical introduction by Joan Schenkar, situating Highsmith's classic works within her own tumultuous life, this book provides a useful guide to some of her most dazzlingly seductive writing. Strangers on a Train (1950), transformed into a legendary film by Alfred Hitchcock, displays Highsmith's genius for psychological characterization and tortuous suspense, while The Price of Salt (1952), with its lesbian lovers and a creepy PI, provides a thrilling and highly controversial depiction of "the love that dare not speak its name." Patricia Highsmith: Selected Novels and Short Stories firmly establishes Highsmith's centrality to American culture by presenting key works that went on to influence a half-century of literature and film. Abandoned by the wider reading public in her lifetime, Highsmith finally gets the canonical recognition that is her due. ... Read more

14. The Talented Mr. Ripley
by Patricia Highsmith
Paperback: 288 Pages (2008-06-17)
list price: US$13.95 -- used & new: US$7.39
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Asin: 0393332144
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Ripley is back. This new publication ofPatriciaHighsmith's classicinaugurates the completeRipley series at Norton.Since his debut in 1955, Tom Ripley has evolvedinto the ultimate bad boy sociopath, influencing countless novelists and filmmakers. In this first novel, we are introduced to suave, handsome TomRipley: a young striver, newly arrived in theheady world of Manhattan in the 1950s. A product of a broken home, branded a "sissy" by hisdismissive Aunt Dottie, Ripley becomes enamoredof the moneyed world of his new friend, DickieGreenleaf. This fondness turns obsessive whenRipley is sent to Italy to bring back hislibertine pal but grows enraged by Dickie'sambivalent feelings for Marge, a charmingAmerican dilettante. A dark reworking of HenryJames's The Ambassadors, The Talented Mr.Ripley—immortalized in the 1998 filmstarring Matt Damon, Jude Law, and GywnethPaltrow—is an unforgettable introduction to this debonair confidence man, whose talent forself-invention and calculated murder ischronicled in four subsequent novels.Amazon.com Review
One of the great crime novels of the 20th century, PatriciaHighsmith's The Talented Mr. Ripley is a blend of the narrativesubtlety of Henry James and the self-reflexive irony of VladimirNabokov. Like the best modernist fiction, Ripley works on twolevels. First, it is the story of a young man, Tom Ripley, whosenihilistic tendencies lead him on a deadly passage across Europe. Onanother level, the novel is a commentary on fictionmaking andtechniques of narrative persuasion. Like Humbert Humbert, Tom Ripleyseduces readers into empathizing with him even as his actions defy allmoral standards.

The novel begins with a play on James's The Ambassadors. TomRipley is chosen by the wealthy Herbert Greenleaf to retrieveGreenleaf's son, Dickie, from his overlong sojourn in Italy. Dickie,it seems, is held captive both by the Mediterranean climate and theattractions of his female companion, but Mr. Greenleaf needs him backin New York to help with the family business. With an allowance and anew purpose, Tom leaves behind his dismal city apartment to begin hiscareer as a return escort. But Tom, too, is captivated by Italy. He isalso taken with the life and looks of Dickie Greenleaf. He insinuateshimself into Dickie's world and soon finds that his passion for alifestyle of wealth and sophistication transcends moralcompunction. Tom will become Dickie Greenleaf--at all costs.

Unlike many modernist experiments, The Talented Mr. Ripley iseminently readable and is driven by a gripping chase narrative thatchronicles each of Tom's calculated maneuvers ofself-preservation. Highsmith was in peak form with this novel, and herability to enter the mind of a sociopath and view the world throughhis disturbingly amoral eyes is a model that has spawned suchlatter-day serial killers as Hannibal Lecter. --PatrickO'Kelley ... Read more

Customer Reviews (157)

4-0 out of 5 stars Love the style, disappointed in the story development
5 stars for writing, 3 stars for story development. I love Patricia Highsmith's writing, and loved this book up until about the halfway point. But the suspense gives way to behavior that just wouldn't happen and so leads up to actions that would not happen as a result. I suppose for its time it was enticingly revealing about a dark personality but now we have a better understanding of narcissism and sociopaths so we know when they would have moved on. I think it's significant that among Patricia's statements about Ripley was that she didn't think he was gay. Yet today we know that someone who behaves like him is definitely gay. There are more inconsistencies within the work than that, however. I think the film Purple Noon is a better rendition of the story as it throws out things that aren't in sync with reality and created a more likely execution of Tom. (Sorry Patricia, my writing is amateur compared to yours but that was my experience!)

5-0 out of 5 stars Couldn't put it down...
Never saw the movie - thank goodness.Started this book after 4pm one day and finished it by 7pm the next.Literally couldn't stop reading it.

3-0 out of 5 stars Disappointed
I found the story to contain a very interesting premise, but it was not well executed. I found myself not caring much about Ripley as a character because his motivations were not well descibed, and many chances were missed to show us the subtleties and little peculiarities of character that woud have brought Ripley to life and etched him into our memories.

Perhaps the author intended to show the very superficial reasons for many of the actions taken by the psychopathic personality, but the style of writing itself was as bland and as superficial as the character.

I would prefer to read a story about an ordinary character that is superbly told rather than a story about a potentially intriguing character that is poorly told.

4-0 out of 5 stars Creepy but good
Ms. Highsmith gave quite a good read into the mind of psychopath. I was truly enjoying the pace of the story - trying hard NOT to compare it with the movie of the same title.I was caught short on the ending, but would like to read other in the Ripley series.

5-0 out of 5 stars Look Back
Patricia Highsmith's THE TALENTED MR. RIPLEY is an exercise in noir. Tom Ripley sinister efforts to gain what he desires through murder is fantastic in that the reader must suspend belief and will readily accept Tom for what he is. This early psychological mystery novel holds your attention as Tom readily justifies his acts and feels little if no remorse.
This classic crime fiction continues to enthrall readers as Tom is the one who gets away with murder.
Nash Black, author of SINS OF THE FATHERS ... Read more

15. The Talented Mr. Ripley, Ripley Under Ground, Ripley's Game (Everyman's Library)
by Patricia Highsmith
Hardcover: 880 Pages (1999-10-12)
list price: US$27.50 -- used & new: US$15.96
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0375407928
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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(Book Jacket Status: Jacketed)

Three classic crime novels by a master of the macabre appear here together in hardcover for the first time.

Suave, agreeable, and completely amoral, Patricia Highsmith's hero, the inimitable Tom Ripley, stops at nothing--not even murder-- to accomplish his goals.In achieving for himself the opulent life that he was denied as a child, Ripley shows himself to be a master of illusion and manipulation and a disturbingly sympathetic combination of genius and psychopath.As Highsmith navigates the mesmerizing tangle of Ripley's deadly and sinister games, she turns the mystery genre inside out and takes us into the mind of a man utterly indifferent to evil.

The Talented Mr. Ripley
In a chilling literary hall of mirrors, Patricia Highsmith introduces Tom Ripley.Like a hero in a latter-day Henry James novel, is sent to Italy with a commission to coax a prodigal young American back to his wealthy father. But Ripley finds himself very fond of Dickie Greenleaf. He wants to be like him--exactly like him.Suave, agreeable, and utterly amoral, Ripley stops at nothing--certainly not only one murder--to accomplish his goal.Turning the mystery form inside out, Highsmith shows the terrifying abilities afforded to a man unhindered by the concept of evil.

Ripley Under Ground
In this harrowing illumination of the psychotic mind, the enviable Tom Ripley has a lovely house in the French countryside, a beautiful and very rich wife, and an art collection worthy of a connoisseur. But such a gracious life has not come easily. One inopportune inquiry, one inconvenient friend, and Ripley's world will come tumbling down--unless he takes decisive steps. In a mesmerizing novel that coolly subverts all traditional notions of literary justice, Ripley enthralls us even as we watch him perform acts of pure and unspeakable evil.

Ripley's Game
Connoisseur of art, harpsichord aficionado, gardener extraordinaire, and genius of improvisational murder, the inimitable Tom Ripley finds his complacency shaken when he is scorned at a posh gala. While an ordinary psychopath might repay the insult with some mild act of retribution, what Ripley has in mind is far more subtle, and infinitely more sinister. A social slight doesn't warrant murder of course-- just a chain of events that may lead to it.Amazon.com Review
Penzler Pick, February 2000: Astonishingly unappreciated in America in her lifetime, Patricia Highsmith has suddenly become a hot writer, four years after her death. This has been aided in no small part by the theatrical release of The Talented Mr. Ripley, with its cast of attractive young people. The success of the film has induced readers to try the book--not uncommon for popular movie adaptations--and then to look for other books by her as well. This excellent trilogy of the first three (of five) adventures of the utterly amoral Ripley helps fill that need.

In spite of being a bestselling writer in Germany, France, Austria, and other European countries, and in spite of the great fame accorded her first novel, Strangers on a Train, and the film adaptation by Alfred Hitchcock, Highsmith enjoyed no success in her native America, and she became an expatriate, living virtually all of her adult life in Europe.

The first of the Ripley novels is The Talented Mr. Ripley, in which the ne'er-do-well Tom Ripley commits murder and assumes the identity of his wealthy friend. In Ripley Underground, he is in danger of being discovered to have defrauded a large company out of a fortune, which could cost him his wealthy wife. In Ripley's Game, a casual snub causes Tom to concoct a scheme involving several murders, the Mafia, and a great deal of money.

These superbly crafted tales about the unfailingly charming but entirely reprehensible criminal are irresistible, much like watching Mike Tyson in a boxing ring (or out of it, for that matter). You know it's wrong to be titillated by it, and you feel guilty about enjoying the spectacle, but it's impossible to avert the eyes. --Otto Penzler ... Read more

Customer Reviews (32)

5-0 out of 5 stars Perfect condition!
The book is in absolutely perfect condition and was delivered a lot faster than I expected!! Thanks so much for the awesome service! :D

4-0 out of 5 stars It's Great Believe It Or Not
I am a fan of noir novels, and all three books in this collection are the real deal. There is something of Arsene Lupin in the character of Tom Ripley. Ripley is less Robin Hood and more sociopath. I can't say what is so intriguing about Tom Ripley to me, except that maybe it is the authors ability to create so many sunlit romantic settings, and then darken them with violence.

Of the five novels in Highsmith's Ripley series, written between 1955 and 1991, only the first, The Talented Mr. Ripley, counts as literature. The others are fun page-turners of no consequence, and the reason is Tom Ripley himself.

In the first book we meet an orphaned nothing who dreams of rising above his poor squalor. We read him from the inside, a modern Raskolnikov whom Highsmith profiles with subtle, sympathetic acuity. The father of a rich, handsome boy Tom met exactly once pays Tom to go to Italy, where that boy, his son, is living off a trust fund, and bring him back to New York to "settle down." Meeting the boy, Dickie Greenleaf, causes Tom to open like a flower toward the radiance of a higher life form. In this first novel, Tom is clearly gay, but Dickie's sexuality is left blank (unlike the movie). Dickie has a girlfriend but tells Tom they are not conjugal and he does not love her. So is Tom meeting Will&Grace? Tom wants to graft himself onto this handsome vine and become Dickie's devoted wife, and after breathless complications caused always by "other people" who won't let Tom edit the scene to his advantage, Tom gets everything he wants except Dickie.

Fifteen years separate the publication of the first from the second novel, but in the story, only three years have passed. Tom is now a hollow, untroubled regular straight guy with a rich wife and serene work-free lifestyle in France. The other four Ripley books simply recount the criminal capers Tom uses to relieve a rich man's boredom.

The first book is a masterpiece of psychology as well as plotting. Nowhere have the consumer yearnings of unformed gay boys been limned so subtly. If you want to understand why Andrew Cunanan shot Gianni Versace, The Talented Mr. Ripley will tell you. The other four novels will tell you nothing; just enjoy them for the pulp they are.

4-0 out of 5 stars Mystery as Literature
This compilation was bought as a gift for a friend who is a mystery fan.I read them in the 1980s.To my mind, Highsmith is in a small group of mystery writers who can lay claim to writing literature, not just genre material.Simenon would be in such a group, perhaps Hammett and Chandler at their best.
Some reviewers fault the "character development" in that there does not appear a strong motivation for Tom Ripley's crimes.This to me is a strength of Highsmith.Evil, as Hannah Arendt showed, is banal.Ripley is not banal, but neither should we realistically expect horns to grow from the heads of the evil, nor a simple single explanation for evil acts.Tom Ripley is self-interest at its reductio ad absurdum.

4-0 out of 5 stars "Don't Wait for the Movie!"
I disagree with some evaluations of the Ripley novels that say something to the effect of: "The creepy Ripley crawls under your skin and haunts your dreams at night!" These characterizations are somewhat silly and exaggerated. Highsmith creates an intriguing character, to be sure. But this is not a terrifying, creepy, or frightening series of crime novels. In fact, there is a notable lack of dramatic tension in these novels, particularly the last two.

Ripley is a young man with problems who gets caught up in a cycle of murder and deception. He is to blame, of course, and Ripley is troubled, for sure. However, to walk in the shoes of Tom Ripley is to understand the unique brew of social, psychological, intellectual, and emotional forces that lead Tom into murder. Of course, understanding how these forces interact within the psyche of Tom is best left to reading Highsmith. However, I would sum up Ripley by saying that he is an intelligent, efficient and inward character who, despite his violent crimes, is still very relatable in a sinister way.

On a more philosophical and ethical tone it is of note that the Ripley character is one of contrast and also marked development. For instance, in the earlier Ripley we find someone that despises murder and yet still justifies it all easily enough in light of his circumstances. The later Ripley seems much more emotionally/psychologically at ease with murder - he can eat or laugh immediately following the act - yet he seems to recognize that while some murders may have been "necessary" the original sin (the first murder of Dickie) was an act of volition in his own self-interest. There is a reversal here: The later Ripley is more capable of murder, yet finds less justification in his original sin. This is intriguing, and I think it parallels the Genesis account of partaking of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Ripley's eyes are opened to a new moral dimension, and he can never go back to his age of innocence.

Comparison with the Matt Damon movie, The Talented Mr. Ripley:
In the case of the Ripley novel there are some notable departures in the character development of Ripley and Dickie Greenleaf that make the movie perhaps a bit more appealing. For one thing, Highsmith's Dickie character is much more static in the novel, while in the movie they deliberately sought out Jude Law to make the Dickie character alive and dynamic. Even the main character, Ripley, is a bit more complex in the movie. He is battling insecurity on many levels and additionally they introduce a homosexual element, while in the novel Ripley is seen as somewhat asexual - at least in the first novel (The Talented Mr. Ripley). In this sense Matt Damon may have created a Ripley who is even more multi-layered than Highsmith. The result of the differences in character development is that the interaction between Dickie and Ripley is more central in the movie and a more focal point of intrigue. The novel, on the other hand, is more focussed on Ripley's inner world and his ability to navigate through two murders.

For the ultimate Ripley experience I recommend both the books and the move. For me the Ripley from the novel and the Ripley from the movie kind of morph and mesh together to form a character of interest and intrigue. Which Ripley is the real Ripley?!!? Let your own imagination decide. ... Read more

16. Patricia Highsmith Omnibus
by Patricia Highsmith
 Hardcover: 688 Pages (1994-08-11)
-- used & new: US$66.44
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1851527028
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These four novels follow the 20-year career of the discriminating and utterly unscrupulous Tom Ripley, who lives a wealthy and privileged life, thanks to a rich wife and an unerring determination to murder anyone who stands in his way. ... Read more

17. A Dog's Ransom
by Patricia Highsmith
Paperback: 256 Pages (2002-08-17)
list price: US$12.95 -- used & new: US$5.98
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0393323366
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Long out of print, this Highsmith classic resurfaces with a vengeance. The great revival of interest in Patricia Highsmith continues with the publication of this novel that will give dog owners nightmares for years to come. With an eerie simplicity of style, Highsmith turns our next-door neighbors into sadistic psychopaths, lying in wait among white picket fences and manicured lawns. In A Dog's Ransom, Highsmith blends a savage humor with brilliant social satire in this dark tale of a highminded criminal who hits a wealthy Manhattan couple where it hurts the most when he kidnaps their beloved poodle. This work attesets to Highsmith's reputation as "the poet of apprehension" (Graham Greene). ... Read more

Customer Reviews (8)

4-0 out of 5 stars Pet murder, stalking, obsession--Highsmith Country
Another enjoyable novel from Patricia Highsmith that shows our world of obsession, violence, envy, and urban weirdness in a fine light.

4-0 out of 5 stars New York story.
It's not so much the plot of A Dog's Ransom that makes it a worthwhile read. Rather it's the detailed psychological profiles of the four main characters that make this novel stand out.The four main characters are:
-Ed and Greta Reynolds, well-to-do Manhattanites who, through no fault of their own, become the target of a petty extortionist.
-Kenneth Rowajinski, the aforementioned extortionist.A poor, lonely wretch of a man whose only joy in life derives from writing threatening letters to strangers.
-Clarence Duhamell, a young patrolman with the NYPD.Sensitive and well intentioned.Clarence tries to help Ed and Greta after Rowajinski demands ransom for the return of their beloved pet poodle.

Of the four, the character Highsmith spends the most time developing in detail is Clarence Duhamell.Clarence is rather ambivalent about being a cop and his ambivalence is abundantly apparent to his colleagues.For that reason he has never been accepted as "one of the boys" within the law enforcement brotherhood.When Clarence goes above and beyond the call of duty to help Mr. and Mrs. Reynolds, his efforts become inexplicably ham-handed, resulting in a disasterous cascade of events leading to his own undoing.
A Dog's Ransom is a well written New York novel noteworthy for it's exquisite character development.A 4 star effort.

4-0 out of 5 stars good highsmith,bad new york
Patricia Highsmith is one of the best American writers of the Twentieth Century. For years now certain critics have been trying to get this message out. I think they've largely failed. Highsmith is'nt a genre writer.Yet you'll still find that she is typed a cime,thriller,or even mystery writer.Her novels aren't all that thrilling.She doesn't write "who dunnits".Crime is almost always a factor.However one should question how important the crimes really are to the novels.I think Highsmith is a writer who uses crime as a a plot device.She is far more interested in commenting on society at large and exploring the strange contours of the human mind than she is in solving crimes or exciting her readers.That said A DOGS RANSOM is something of a police procedural novel.It's good Highsmith not great.Highsmith was not the sort of writer to sweat factual details.There is an interesting factual mistake in the book.At one point she indicates that a truck is delivering wooden beer barrels.In New York,in 1969?London,maybe, not New York.I temporarily let this error mislead me and concluded that Highsmith,long a resident of Europe, also didn't know that a revolution had taken place in american criminal procedure in the 1960's.Then i realized that was nonesense.Highsmith comments directly and indirectly onaffirmative action and the deinstutionalization of mental patients.She deliberately distorts reality to make her case.Her case is urbanamerica of the 1960's was a cesspool of idiocy and corruption.Highsmith isa bilious, malevolent writer.This is not a pretty book.She attacks the U.S.from the Left and the Right simultaneously.Her racism is clear and in it's relentlessnes(not it's intensity) jarring.Highsmith is a writer who isn't asking you to love or admire her.She's a nasty piece of work.You have to admire her.

3-0 out of 5 stars Too Many Words!!!!
I finally finished "A Dog's Ransom" this evening by a sheer force of will and a curiosity to see how this rambling story would finally end.

I have very mixed feelings about this book and about Patricia Highsmith's writing.I have only read "Strangers on A Train", "The Talented Mr. Ripley" and this book, but my feeling about all three is that they are too long.Especially in this book, I felt that there is just too much unnessesary dialog.

That being said, the story is definately unique. What Highsmith does with the basic idea of a couple's dog being kidnapped and held for ransom and a goody goody cop trying to help them out on his own time, is amazing.Another problem which has knocked a possible 5 star rating to 3 stars, is that I disliked each and every charector in the book, including the dog!!

To sum it up, one can not deny the talent of this author and if you dont mind excessive dialog, and obnoxious charectors, then perhaps you can give it a try.

5-0 out of 5 stars Not just Highsmith's best, it's the best novel period.
This book tricks you into thinking it's the story of a grouchy old man who cruely kidnaps and murders a grieving Manhattan couple's poodle and the couple's efforts to get help from an apathetic police department following the loss of their dog.Early on but completely out of nowhere the book shifts it's focus to a dedicated and heroic young cop, Clarence, who decides to help the couple out of pure kindness, a kindness that leads to Clarence's destruction.

I loved the portrayal of Clarence as an obsessive do gooder who's fear of doing the wrong thing causes him to commit evil acts in the name of justice.The villain, Rowajinski, is one of her most hateful since the lawyer in A Suspension Of Mercy or David Pritchard in Ripley Under Water.

I reccomend this book highly to anyone who loves a good read and a story where the characters don't always act rational but the story stays true to life.This book shows there truly is no such thing as good or evil, it's just a matter of perception. ... Read more

18. Edith's Diary (Highsmith, Patricia)
by Patricia Highsmith
Paperback: 317 Pages (1994-01-18)
list price: US$13.50 -- used & new: US$1.04
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0871132966
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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As Edith Howland's life becomes harsh, her diary entries only become brighter and brighter. She invents a happy life. As she knits for imaginary grandchildren, the real world recedes. Her descent into madness is subtle, appalling, and entirely believable. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (16)

4-0 out of 5 stars psychological thriller
I found this book fascinating - and was quite alarmed when Edith's husband kept insisting that she had to have sessions with a psychiatrist as she did not seem mad to me.She was unfortunately the product of a unloving relationship with her parents ("an only child, she and her parents were not close") who were more interested in growing prize roses than politics.As far as I can see she grew up to be uncaring about herself and that is why when Brett announces he is having an affair she reacts so very little and even agrees to have the woman in her home.She shoves reality aside in order to cope and simply hopes that Brett and Carol will split/get tired of each other.She is unable to stick up for herself and only agrees to tell Brett that she loves him (rather lamely) because her great aunt Melanie has persuaded her to do so.Edith even agrees to carry on looking after George who is totally her ex-husband's responsibility because she cannot get angry enough to make Brett take him away.She seems to be devoid of much emotion but is it simply repressed?

In the same way she virtually ignores Cliffie who is growing up to be uncaring about himself to such an extent that he cannot look presentable, get a decent job or girlfriend.The tragedy is that he is a product of his parents' lack of love for him - not autistic - and as a child he was simply ignored unless he did something wrong.His father is disappointed in him and his mother is more interested in politics.(The cycle is repeating itself - he eventually creates fantasies about Luce his unrequited love.)Edith cannot even bring herself to confront Cliffie about his secret meddling with George's drugs as she is unable to cope with the fact that she also secretly wants George out of the way.

So the fact that Edith starts to write a new reality in her diary is unsurprising, and personally I was sad that she dies so suddenly and accidentally as I think she was getting on just fine in her way, given what she had to deal with!

2-0 out of 5 stars Nothing happens
Disappointing. Very slow reading and nothing happens much.
The characters are underdeveloped and boring. Towards the end I started to skip pages. One of the worst books I read during the last 10 years.

4-0 out of 5 stars Genteel Journey to Polite Madness
There's only one novel ever by Patricia Highsmith I haven't greatly enjoyed (The Glass Cage), this novel continues in the core Highsmith world-view of people subtly twisted by their personal experiences into criminal vicious & dark reactions.
I found the territory of the American educated Middle Class to be typical of her characters, but somehow the tone of this book is a bit different from most of her others.The female lead here is a bit of a Martyr, while the son shows the worst results of an over protected American Middle upbringing.Her husband is a classic cad & even manages to foist off a relative of his on Edith; strongly against her wishes & unable to summon a model for his ejection.
Its a fascinating & even genteelly horrific side of Suburbia that shows aptly what can scuttle out from our quotidian lives when a few whitewashed rocks are upturned.
The novel kept me reading with full interest from beginning to end.The son & the Old Liability of a relative are both fascinating stories, while Edith's private diaryreveals the grandiose imaginings many of us have. Unlike some I feel PH does a bang-up job of conjuring up the proper Middle Class confines of the '50s & early '60s USA.
I don't want to reveal much of the action, so instead I'll repeat that I found the novel, while in familiar Highsmith territory at a bit of an oblique to the stories she usually writes.One thing I usually see is vivid, accurate portrayals of Gay men, while here the is only some sexual ambiguity in one of the characters.
The one thing that puzzles me is exactly what happens at the end. I think I got it, but I can't say I understood with certainty & I'll probably always wonder a bit about the denouncement.Still ambiguous ends are not without their merits.Well worth reading.

2-0 out of 5 stars Suspense Slow as Molasses
There was no American author as able as Patricia Highsmith ("Strangers on a Train," "The Talented Mr. Ripley,") when it came to writing suspense, and "Edith's Diary," originally published in 1977 is certainly of that genre.

It runs from roughly 1955 to 1975, and describes the life of one Edith Howland, married to journalist Brett, mother of there's-definitely-something-wrong-with-him Cliffie.We meet them as they are about to leave an apartment many would desire on Grove Street, in New York's Greenwich Village, and move to a dream house in what the author clearly means us to read as the also highly desired, artsy, Bucks County, Pennsylvania.Edith's diary,a particularly large, hardbound one with which she was once gifted as a young woman, plays an important part in the story, becoming almost another character. Mind you, not that much happens, but things deteriorate.Brett falls for his pretty new secretary and departs, leaving behind his invalid, unpleasant Uncle George, whose care falls on Edith's shoulders.Cliffie goes from bad to worse.Edith gets tired of writing depressing true stuff in her diary, and so begins filling it with happier fiction: Cliffie as a greatly successful engineer, sweetly married to a delightful girl, father to two pretty children.As the diary's fiction is so evidently preferable to her real life, Edith begins spending more and more time and energy there: she also seems to get closer to, more influenced by Cliffie, the constant companion of her loneliness.

"Edith's Diary" is placed in a domestic setting: most readers would probably agree that that was never Highsmith's strong suit.Furthermore, the story is sometimes told from Edith's point of view, sometimes from Cliffie's.This, too, created a problem for me: as I had immediately interpreted Cliffie as autistic, by today's standards, I tended to discount his point of view, and didn't find it particularly useful.Moreover, Edith is meant to be a flaming liberal-- we're told early on that Uncle George condescends to her, thought she and hubby Brett(as his politics were then, when they were married) were "babes in the wood, doomed to failure."So, there's a lot of discussion of the then-very-engrossing politics of the time: the Cuban missile crisis, the Vietnam War, Watergate.Most of this discussion, however, would no longer be of any great interest to the general reading public.Finally, the tale is also told slowly, slowly.Nor was I ever sure where the author was going: as best I could figure, Highsmith was looking to create a story illustrating what mental health professionals call a "folie a deux," or a situation in which, when two people spend a lot of time together, and the dominant partner is mentally unbalanced, the dependent partner follows the other into insanity.Or that's how the professionals explain the 1950's killing spree of Charlie Starkweather and Caryll Fugate.But maybe not.At any rate, this book isn't the place to start reading Highsmith.

4-0 out of 5 stars The meek may inherit the earth .. but they won't keep it
In this novel, Highsmith offers readers a meandering tale of the minutae of the quiet disappointments of Edith Howland. A gentle, modest soul, Edith is quite content with the role of housewife (to a preoccupied husband) and mother (to an odd surly son).The novel opens in the mid-1950s when it wasn't uncommon for young women with literary or intellectual inclinations to forsake career for hearth and home.As an intellectual outlet, Edith publishes a village newspaper, dealing with the eternally controversial topics of birth control, abortion, quality of education in public schools, the American presence in the foreign political arena.It is significant that while Edith is a firebrand in her articles (her viewpoints inflame and alienate her fellow villagers) which purport to set the World to rights, she is singularly incapable of managing her own life.As the novel progresses, we find Edith divorced, saddled with a deceitful, drunken 20-something son, and serving as unwilling caretaker for an uncle by marriage.Edith's reaction to these life-compromising events is that of a rock embedded in a riverbed while the currents swirl around and dash against it. Edith raises passivity to an art form.

Unlike other reviewers, though, I do not believe Edith suffered a descent into madness.She was a bit delusional in that her diary (ostensibly a record of actual events) becomes a work of fiction. Consider that those who live alone are prone to fall into eccentric ways.As readers first meet Edith -- moving into a new house with her little family intact, and even though she never lives on her own for a second of the novel -- Edith remains essentially alone.

Edith's Diary is quintessential Highsmith.Ordinary characters are depicted doing ordinary acts of cruelty, selfishness, or indifference.

... Read more

19. Tales of Natural and Unnatural Catastrophes
by Patricia Highsmith
Paperback: 192 Pages (1994-01-31)
list price: US$12.00 -- used & new: US$6.48
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0871133415
Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

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In this eerily up-to-date collection, Highsmith’s incisive prose chronicles a world gone slightly mad, its catastrophes precipitated by human folly and excess. From the White House under siege by the homeless to a 190-year-old woman perpetually near death and dimly glowing, each tale unfolds the illogical extremes of humanity in the late twentieth century. Highsmith transmogrifies the face of daily existence to lay bare its manifold dark motives. These stories leave us haunted with “afterimages that will tremble—but stay—in our minds” (The New Yorker).
... Read more

Customer Reviews (5)

2-0 out of 5 stars Stories that are not so much scary as just icky
Mystery and suspense writer Patricia Highsmith offers tales of Gothic horror in the tradition of H.P. Lovecraft in a thoroughly modern (and at times, almost futuristic) setting.Most of these stories struck this reviewer as more unpleasant than truly horrifying, and more often than not, the bad guys only got what was coming to them, so no regrets.And as mysteries, these stories were not overly clever, and seemed to go on far too long for the amount of plot.If this was done with the hope of building suspense, it largely failed.Meanwhile, the topics of nuclear waste, plagues of insects, and the struggle for women's rights each figure prominently in more than one story, making this collection seem needlessly repetitive - a little more variety in subject matter probably would have helped.This reviewer's favorite tale was "Sweet Freedom! And a Picnic on the White House Lawn" which at least had a pleasant subplot.Also, "Sixtus VII: Pope of the Red Slipper" was pretty good and at least well-intentioned.The others fall short of being genuinely frightening without being funny, or clever, or presenting any positive message.The author certainly delivers on what the title promises, but this reviewer wonders "to what point?"

3-0 out of 5 stars Neither Here, nor There, but not bad
My only exposure to Highsmith prior to reading this book is Hitchcock's Strangers on a Train, which I loved. But somehow I can't believe the same person wrote them, as these stories hardly leave an impression me like Strangers on a Train did. The style reminds me of Catch-22 by Joseph Heller--a sort of mad-hatter of absurdities--which held me initially with a few painful chuckles, but it got old quickly if the story was too long.

Overall, I was not impressed by this particular work, but I am intrigued enough by what I've read to see her talent used in a different direction.

3-0 out of 5 stars Highsmith reaches beyond her proven strengths..
Patricia Highsmith is known for her tightly-woven psychological mysteries, especially where anxiety levels of the accused criminal approach the breaking point.Ms Highsmith has also published many short stories of lesser quality, mostly because she has a shorter runway for building the suspense.Having said this, her short story collection 'Eleven' does have nice juicy bits.

In 'Tales of Natural and Unnatural Catastrophes' Paticia Highsmith turns her attention to modern issues (eg, pollution) and writes some rather strange stories where these issues are turned upside-down.I would broadly classify them has horror rather than mystery/suspense, and they are quite readable.Yet one gets the impression that this is all very old hat.And this material relects the general demise of Highsmith's works during the latter part of her career (1980s onwards).

Bottom line: okay, but Highsmith has done much better than this.

4-0 out of 5 stars This is the real Highsmith
These stories are interesting and well-conceived. They are not always what you would expect - but hat's what Highsmith does best. This is not Strangers on a Train or The Talented Mr. Ripley, but it is clever fiction, well rendered.

3-0 out of 5 stars Tales to give you nightmares
This book was classed as Mystery & Suspense, but presumably just because "that's what Patricia Highsmith writes."I'd class it as fantasy.These stories describe completely recognizable worlds, but"gone slightly mad" as one review accurately puts it.Some areenormously disturbing - I tried not to fall asleep in the middle of onebecause I feared the nightmares it would kindle!

That said, it's far frommy favorite Highsmith.The stories just don't grip like most of her work -I couldn't stay awake when I tried.Peculiarly, many of them seem both tooshort, i.e. sketchy, and too long, i.e.moral/story could have beendelivered much more quickly.

Perhaps mostly a good book for Highsmithcompletists; it's always interesting to read a favorite author's foraysinto a different genre. ... Read more

20. Ripley Under Ground
by Patricia Highsmith
Paperback: 288 Pages (2008-09-17)
list price: US$13.95 -- used & new: US$8.08
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0393332136
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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"Ripley is an unmistakable descendant ofGatsby, that 'penniless young man without apast' whowill stop at nothing."—FrankRichNow part of American film and literary lore, Tom Ripley, "a bisexual psychopathand artforger who murderswithout remorse when hiscomforts are threatened" (New York TimesBook Review), was PatriciaHighsmith's favorite creation.In these volumes, we find Ripleyensconced on a French estate with awealthywife, a world-class art collection, and a past tohide. In Ripley Under Ground (1970), an art forgery goes awry andRipley is threatened withexposure; in The Boy Who FollowedRipley (1980),Highsmithexplores Ripley's bizarrely paternal relationship with a troubled youngrunaway,whose abductiondraws them into Berlin's seamyunderworld; and in Ripley Under Water(1991),Ripley is confrontedby a snooping Americancouple obsessed with the disappearance of an artcollector who visited Ripley years before. More than any otherAmerican literary character,Ripley provides "a lens to peer into thesinister machinations of humanbehavior"(John Freeman,Pittsburgh Gazette). ... Read more

Customer Reviews (28)

4-0 out of 5 stars Less plausable than "Talented", still fun
I seriously enjoyed "Talented Mr. Ripley". Enough to seek out the first sequel in the Highsmith's long-running series. The basic sketch of the plot is that Tom abets some British pals in running an art world scam in which wealthy buyers purchase forged paintings of the dead artist Derwatt. Except for the conspirators, no one knows that Derwatt is dead. Tom's been collecting a nice cut of the profits for several years and the illicit operation seems to be safe...that is until a nosy American shows up on the scene, questioning certain details of the forgeries. I don't think I'd be spoiling anything by revealing that a murder ensues.

While I enjoyed this second entry in the Ripley series and it did keep me turning the pages, I have to say that Highsmith seemed to fall back on the formula developed in the first novel. Tom is always on the verge of being caught. One wonders how he'll hide the evidence and dodge his pursuers. A lot of the methods of escape are similar to those used in "Talented". One of the weak parts of the story is the implausibility of Tom masquerading as the dead artist Derwatt in front of a British investigator who has already met him as Tom Ripley and who is already suspicious of his story. The story goes down better if you can get past this.

For me, the most intriguing part of the book came when the inspector openly stated thathe considered it an amazing coincidence that so many people seem to die or disappear around Tom, including Dicky Greenleaf and his friedn Miles (both of whom Tom disposed of in the first book). Just when you think that thread's going to go somewhere and Tom is going to face his first real challenge from a competent and determined detective, the pages run out. Just when it was getting really good. I'll be curious to see if Highsmith decided to follow up on this teaser in the next book.

5-0 out of 5 stars Ripley Is At It Again
In the second of Patricia Highsmith's five Ripley novels, "Ripley Under Ground," it is six years since the Dickie Greenleaf and Freddie Miles homicides. Tom Ripley has settled in France, married moneyed Heloise, and is living comfortably well-off at his county home Belle Hombre with his loyal, supremely capable housekeeper Mme Annette.
Tom can never play the straight and narrow; after all he does have a homicidal streak. He is involved in an art forgery scheme originating in London whereby a painter named Bernard is forging new works by the dead painter Derwatt. Tom is also involved in a fencing scheme with a shady character named Reeves Minot who is central in the third novel in the series. Being a dodgy character suits Ripley who enjoys elaborate crooked schemes and the danger of discovery.
Ripley's wife doesn't really trust him because she knows about his shady past. An American named Murchison seems to be catching on to the forgeries so Tom has to head him off at the pass. In his home Tom has a real and a forged Derwatt which he shows to Murchison while trying to convince him no forgery is going on.
Bernard, the forger, mentally unstable, has pangs of guilt about recreating Derwatts because the renowned painter was Bernard's idol. Bernard's going to spill the beans and wreck the whole scheme. Bernard, whose sanity is in question, sometimes seems saner than Tom.
There is always a lot of travel around Europe in a Ripley novel; it adds to the intrigue and the atmosphere of suspense. The detectives in this book are very suspicious of Ripley, but he outwits them by schemes that seem way too complicated.
Ripley, always flirting with discovery and detection, unnecessarily invites people to stay in his home who could potentially destroy him. He invites Dickie Greenleaf's cousin to stay, and the guy turns out to be incredibly nosy and intrusive. Highsmith creates unbearable suspense in this way because you never know who is going to unmask him, endanger him. Everybody seems to suspect him because of his shaky background. Ripley is like a moth flying too close to the flame.
Tom plays elaborate cat and mouse games which seem to become more complicated, intricate, and audaciously dangerous for him. The problems Ripley has getting rid of a corpse verge on absurdity but add to the suspense.
Tom kills people to save himself. He was born to lie, feels comfortable lying, and in playing a role, impersonating people such as Derwatt, and being someone other than himself.
In this book Tom adds one more murder to his tally and possibly a second if you count driving a person to suicide a homicide. The story that Tom tells the British police detective at the end of the book is a little too bizarre to be believed.
You begin to root for Ripley not to be caught, but his victims don't really deserve death; only his selfish needs compel him to act. There are brilliant touches, sly comments, and details in a Highsmith. This one is agreat read.

4-0 out of 5 stars An Earthworm's View of the World
Patricia Highsmith's crime thriller "Ripley Under Ground," was initially published in 1970.It's second in her Ripley series, known to the faithful as the Ripliad, recounting the deeds of her widely-known antihero, the AmericanTom Ripley, a smooth, charming, murderous, potentially bi-sexual, young psychopath, semi-retired to a lovely French villa-- with an equally lovely young French wife -- off the proceeds of his many bad deeds.

As the book opens, Ripley has been profiting quite nicely thank you, for donkey's years, from a sweet little scam: a cottage industry grown up around selling the paintings -- and the sizzle -- of Derwatt, a brilliant British surrealist painter.But unfortunately, Derwatt has been dead these six years.However, Ripley and friends had resurrected him, and continued to sell his increasingly valuable paintings, actually executed by a close friend of the late artist; and to license, at handsome fees, the use of the well-known painter's name to an art supply house and school.All the while explaining that Derwatt had not committed suicide in Greece, as once was thought, but merely retreated to a remote Mexican village, there to live in complete anonymity.Then, wouldn't you know it; the whole shebang is menaced by Murchison, a suspicious American art collector.

Ripley will take action, of course, and it will inevitably be murderous.His response will be orchestrated with a lot of pan-European travel, to gallery openings, and glamorous places, and is a lot of fun to watch.The book is so skillfully written, we almost find ourselves rooting for Ripley.It moves fast, dialog crackles, narrative writing is fine.

Highsmith, of course, was American herself, a Texan, who chose to live in Europe.She's best known as the author of the superlative thriller,Strangers on a Train, and, as filmed by Alfred Hitchcock, Strangers on a Train (Two-Disc Special Edition);also for the first Ripley book, The Talented Mr. Ripley, recently filmed by Anthony Minghella, as The Talented Mr. Ripley.The Ripley series doesn't necessarily need to be read in order, but it's perhaps best to do so, as the Ripliad is certainly subject to the law of diminishing returns; the later books get weaker.At any rate, Highsmith's work has previously been best-known and most popular in Europe, but the recent film has reminded a lot of Americans of her large body of work, mainly unsettling chillers, set in a topsy-turvy world of her own devising that resembles ours, only in an earthworm's view.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Nice Addition to the Series
I read Ripley Under Ground following the first novel in the series.Patricia Highsmith's writing a succinct and beautifully descriptive, and she builds the story chapter by chapter until it becomes hard to put down. The story has been explained well by other reviewers and revolves around a British artist - Derwatt - who presumably drowned himself on the island of Icaria in his disappointment over his career. His friends, ironically, manage to make the dead artist famous by selling his paintings and drawings but they run out of art works to sell.Enter Tom Ripley with the solution:have someone paint pictures in the Derwatt style.Derwatt become a cottage industry with his own line of art supplies with an artist - Bernard Tufts - turning out Derwatt paintings.As a cover, Derwatt is painting away in an obscure village in Mexico and will not reveal the name. Everything is good until someone looks too closely and thinks Derwatt is being forged.

Without giving away much more of the story, the inquisitive art collector meets a sticky end and Bernard, the art forger, begins to fall apart.Tom Ripley is called on to deftly manage the growing police investigation as his many houseguests - including a Greenleaf cousin and Bernard - come to stay at his house.And his wife Heloise, conveniently in Greece during the early part of the book, returns home.The story builds nicely as the police want to question the illusive Derwatt about this missing art collector.Ultimately, however, Ms. Highsmith ends the book without resolving the whereabouts of the art collector but Bernard becomes a useful stand-in for Derwatt.

The loose end is a bit troublesome and I thought of some ways in which the story could have been resolved.Ripley could have implicated Bernard as the art collector's murderer because Bernard felt that Derwatt had been insulted by the charges of forgery.It also might have been interesting if Ripley had found the real Derwatt when he was searching for Bernard, as a disinterested observed of his own fame.

Despite the loose end Ripley Under Ground is a very engaging book that should delight lovers of the Ripley series.

3-0 out of 5 stars An amoral man of leisure
Several years after he murdered Dickie Greenleaf and went through the events described in "The Talented Mr. Ripley," we now find a more domesticated Tom Ripley living as a man of leisure in a beautiful old country house with a lovely garden in France, with his young, blond French wife Heloise.Tom, living on the money that Dickie "left" to him (in a fake will drawn up by Tom himself after he murdered Dickie), plus his wife's family's generous allowance, supplements his income (and adds some excitment to a rather staid life) by having a stake in a bogus art dealership that sells paintings from the mysterious Derwatt.Unbeknownst to the general public, Derwatt actually committed suicide years before, and the new Derwatt paintings are being painted by Bernard Tufts, a secret business partner of Tom, who's an expertcounterfeiter of Derwatt's art.But what's one to do when this fraudalent scheme is discovered by an avid Derwatt fan?

Though Ripley is now older, wiser and more circumspect than he was in the prior novel, he hasn't changed at all in one respect: he will not let anything or anyone stand in the way of his blissful existence, even if he has to lie, cheat and murder.Still a master of imitation, Ripley also has to assume the role of different persona, including that of Derwatt himself, in order to get away with his various crimes.

The problem I had with "Ripley Under Ground," was the same thing I had with "The Talented Mr. Ripley," but even more so.I couldn't help but roll my eyes at how many times Ripley was able to convince the police (here both French and British, as opposed to Italian in the prior Ripley novel) of his complete innocence and non-involvement with the shakiest of alibis and under the deepest suspicion.Ripley explains that he's just unlucky in that people who were last seem with him happen to disappear, and presumably well trained detectives astonishingly accept this after the most cursory of investigation.

What was most frustrating to me is that all the police had to do to figure out the Derwatt ruse, and Ripley's involvement in it, was to follow the money trail.His colleagues at the Derwatt gallery explained that they had no idea where Derwatt lived or how they could locate him.Wouldn't following the money trail be the first thing one would do if someone who's alleging counterfeit paintings was murdered?This avenue of investigation would have led to the discovery of Ripley's involvement in the enterprise, and his entire story would have collapsed like a house of cards.

In short, if you liked "The Talented Mr. Ripley," it's probably worth your while to read "Ripley Under Ground."But the problems of the first Ripley novel are magnified here. ... Read more

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