The Talented Mr. Ripley (Patricia Highsmith)

The Talented Mr. Ripley is Patricia Highsmith‘s probably most famous book.

Tom Ripley is young and poor and amuses himself with small trickeries and deceits. One day he is approached by Herbert Greenleaf, father of an acquaintance of Tom’s, Dickie. Mr. Greenleaf asks Tom for help: Dickie is in Italy and can not be persuaded to come home. Maybe Tom could have a word with him and try to convince him? Tom sees his chance to get out of New York and at the very least have a few nice months in Italy, so he agrees. But once in Europe, he gets more and more obsessed with Dickie himself.

The Talented Mr. Ripley is an interesting read, but one that starts to drag towards the end. It’s amazing with how much insight Highsmith writes but I couldn’t really bring myself to care enough about Tom so that I was interested in how things would go for him.


We have a lot of knowledge about sociopaths nowadays from pop culture, even if most of it will probably make a proper psychiatrist squirm. Highsmith didn’t really have that yet (or did she? I haven’t done any research on this, I’m just assuming). And still, the way she characterises Tom Ripley is pretty much textbook. And that is completely amazing. When you know people that well, it’s awe-inspiring.

Unfortunately the book starts to fall apart a bit, around the time that Tom kills Freddie Miles. It just becomes tedious to read about Tom and how he worries about getting caught and then the situation seems to be resolved and then something else turns up and then it starts all over again and again and again.

I just didn’t care enough about Tom as a character to muster any kind of anxiety about his state. I didn’t mind either way – he gets caught? Fine by me. He doesn’t? That’s alright then. Just get it done, will ya? That means, I also don’t plan on reading any of the other Ripley books.

But it was nice to have read this one; it is a good book after all. And if you’re more into crime novels than I am, you’re probably going to enjoy this more than I did.

1 thought on “The Talented Mr. Ripley (Patricia Highsmith)

  1. Pingback: Rewatched: The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999) « Stuff

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