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The Talented Mr. Ripley: Book Review

on March 8, 2012


The Talented Mr. Ripley by Particia Highsmith is the story of Tom Ripley, a twenty-five-year-old con artist and forgerer. He is approached by Mr. Greenleaf and asked to travel to Italy to try to persuade his son Dickie Greenleaf to return to America because he has been gone a long time and Mrs. Greenleaf is ill. Although Tom had met Dickie only once, and tells Mr. Greenleaf as much,Mr. Greenleaf insists and offers to pay all his expenses. Wanting to get away from his dead-end life and start anew, Tom accepts. Neither of them knows that their arrangement will lead to multiple crimes.
Entertaining storyline. However, it was a long read. The pacing was good but it sometimes read like one of the classics we had to read in English class at school. Description was heavy but not burdensome. The life of these well-off Americans living in Italy was slow and lazy so I guess the story was matching that kind of living. Interesting plot device.
This is the first crime novel I’ve read outside if Agatha Christie. There are sequels but I doubt I will read them. I have yet to see the movie.
I originally gave the book 4 stars because the writing is superb. Ms. Highsmith describes Italy beautifully. The crime part is a little farfetched in places. But I chalk that up to the time period which I guess is around the 1950s. With all the advances in crime scene investigation, it’s hard for me to roll my mind back to a time where detectives just took people’s word for it. Also there was a certain amount of deference to Americans living abroad. So because of that I downgraded to 3 out of 5 stars.


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