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"Ripley is an unmistakable descendant of Gatsby, that 'penniless young man without a past' who will stop at nothing."―Frank RichNow part of American film and literary lore, Tom Ripley, "a bisexual psychopath and art forger who murders without remorse when his comforts are threatened" (New York Times Book Review), was Patricia Highsmith's favorite creation. In these volumes, we find Ripley ensconced on a French estate with a wealthy wife, a world-class art collection, and a past to hide. In Ripley Under Ground (1970), an art forgery goes awry and Ripley is threatened with exposure; in The Boy Who Followed Ripley (1980), Highsmith explores Ripley's bizarrely paternal relationship with a troubled young runaway, whose abduction draws them into Berlin's seamy underworld; and in Ripley Under Water (1991), Ripley is confronted by a snooping American couple obsessed with the disappearance of an art collector who visited Ripley years before. More than any other American literary character, Ripley provides "a lens to peer into the sinister machinations of human behavior" (John Freeman, Pittsburgh Gazette).
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For more than four decades, Patricia Highsmith has developed her unique mastery of suspense - not least in her renowned cycle of novels featuring Tom Ripley. Now, with the fifth in that series and her first new novel in five years, she demonstrates yet again her ability, as Graham Greene wrote, "to create a world of her own, a world claustrophobic and irrational which we enter each time with a sense of personal danger". Though his talent for evil has in no way diminished, Tom Ripley has aged, even mellowed. Now leading the good life in the French countryside, complete with chic wife and devoted housekeeper, he is more interested in his wine stores than the bloodstains on the cellar floor. Then a meddlesome American couple takes up residence in the same village. Though at first the Pritchards seem a mere curiosity, their taste as execrable as their manners, they are annoyingly well informed about incidents in Ripley's past and almost smug about flaunting their knowledge. This, of course, disturbs the tranquillity of the charmed, cultured life for which Tom has worked so hard, and he has no choice but to bedevil the Pritchards in return. Thus begins a spirited, sophisticated game of cat and mouse that leads to Tangier and London and back again, to the pond behind the Pritchards' house. It is Ripley at his most suave and devious - and Patricia Highsmith in peak form. For her aficionados, Ripley Under Water is utterly essential - and for readers new to her work, a spectacular introduction to "a natural novelist" (John Gross, The New York Times).From the Inside Flap:
Tom Ripley passes his leisured days at his French country estate tending the dahlias, practicing the harpsichord, and enjoying the company of his lovely wife, Heloise. Never mind the bloodstains on the basement floor.
But some new neighbors have moved to Villeperce: the Pritchards, just arrived from America. they are a ghastly pair, with vulgar manners and even more vulgar taste. Most inconvenient, though, is their curiosity. Ripley does, after all, have a few things to hide. When menacing coincidences begin to occur, a spiraling contest of sinister hints and mutual terrorism ensues, resulting in one of Patricia Highsmith's most elegantly harrowing novels to date.
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