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Ripley Under Water [Paperback]

Patricia Highsmith
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Aug. 26 2008
"Ripley is an unmistakable descendant of Gatsby, that 'penniless young man without a past' who will stop at nothing."-Frank Rich

Now 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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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

With the chilling, knife-edged subtlety that is her trademark, Highsmith ( Strangers on a Train ; Ripley's Game ) details the civilized life pursued by her sociopath hero Tom Ripley, who here makes his fifth appearance and his first in a dozen years. Now living in the French countryside with his wife, Heloise, Ripley is bothered by an obnoxious American couple who have rented a house nearby and who seem bent on exploring incidents in Ripley's past. With no apparent personal motive, David Pritchard and his wife Janice refer to an American art dealer named Murchison who mysteriously disappeared some years ago after visiting Ripley. Ripley, who had murdered Murchison to prevent the exposure of an art forgery scheme and then dumped his body in a nearby canal, grows increasingly anxious and angry as Pritchard continues to harass him and begins dredging the local canals. Highsmith leads up to her resolution as unsensationally and evenhandedly as she describes Ripley's ordinary days spent tending his dahlias, practicing Schubert on the harpsichord, relishing his meals and looking out tenderly for Heloise and their housekeeper. The perfect gentleman, he is civil, considerate, utterly well mannered--and deadly. Highsmith will make readers look closer at their neighbors, and at themselves.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Library Journal

Highsmith's fifth Ripley novel, and her first since The Boy Who Followed Ripley ( LJ 5/1/80. o.p.), finds the sophisticated and amoral American expatriate being harassed by David Pritchard, a fellow American whose boorishness marks him as something of Ripley's alter-ego. Inexplicably familiar with all the incriminating details of Ripley's past, Pritchard is determined to expose him. He shadows Ripley's every move, first spying on him at home in France and then following him to Morocco. Tensions build on the return to Villeperce as Pritchard sets out to locate a body Ripley would prefer remain hidden in a nearby river. Not a suspense or mystery novel per se, this work borrows from both to create a disquieting exploration of the nuances of psychopathology that transcends genre. Fans of Highsmith and the enigmatic Ripley will not be disappointed.
- Lawrence Rungren, Bed ford Free P.L., Mass.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars This sequel's all wet.... Feb. 11 2004
Format:Paperback
Fans of the Ripley series will find a few enjoyable moments, particularly in the characterizations of the well known characters of Tom, Mme Anette and Heloise. Otherwise, there is little suspense and even less ultimate payoff. Strangers to the Highsmith works will most likely be left completely non-plussed. This is a particularly dated and unclever work.
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5.0 out of 5 stars It's not that bad! April 1 2003
Format:Paperback
I have read few good reviews for this book, but having read it now, I think very much otherwise.
In my opinion, this is the second best in the series - because "The Talented Mr. Ripley" is the best, of course, but also because "Ripley Under Ground" had a few good moments and was otherwise rather flat (4th best to me), "Ripley's Game" had a more good moments, but still didn't reach great peaks of suspense (3rd best), and "The Boy who Followed Ripley" was really pointless, and the core concept had already been done, and a lot better, in "The Two Faces of January."
But here, as soon as Tom grows suspicious of the Pritchards, the atmosphere goes very apprehensive. And, as the novel progresses, it turns to a tension - that sweet, magical "oh, don't get caught! Don't get caught!" tension - that only the first one really has. And it doesn't let go.
This book is indeed one of the few "unputdownables" that nearly equals Highsmith's best. It's definitely worth it. Read on!
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2.0 out of 5 stars Worst of the series Oct. 8 2002
By Tim
Format:Paperback
Having read all of the Ripley books in order, I must echo other reviewers in saying that this is the weakest of them all. A promising plot is overcome with unanswered questions, and an ending that just falls flat. All due credit to Highsmith for making the novel entertaining and interesting, and I would have given the book more stars had the ending been more interesting. As it is, kind of disappointing.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Too Much French, N'ece Pas? May 19 2002
By ViAmber
Format:Paperback
This was my first Patricia Highsmith book, and I, too, picked it up because I had seen the movie "The Talented Mr. Ripley". I couldn't find that book, so started with this one. It took a while to "get into" the story, but I was quickly compelled. The one drawback: too many french phrases that I had to spend time either trying to figure out from the context of the sentence or look up the meanings from the on-line french-to-english dictionaries. Some words just weren't there. Mon dieu! Aside from those irritations, I found the story to be fascinating, particularly with Tom's relationships to those around him. Heloise, for instance. Sometimes, it seemed like she viewed him with antagonism or thinly veiled contempt. Her responses were too cool at times. Not like a wife. Why don't they sleep together? Is there more about their relationship in previous books? I thought the relationship with the friend that came over from England was also interesting. I so enjoyed the scene where they witness the Pritchards falling into their pond. You could truly sense Tom's utter delight that his nemesis was going to drown! I loved it! And how he had to tame his obvious enthusiasm so that his friend wouldn't find him totally reprehensible! Brilliant writing. I will definitely read more of her books and am sad the series is over.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Ripley series ends with whimper... Oct. 17 2001
By lazza
Format:Paperback
It is a shame Patricia Highsmith was unable to sustain her brilliance throughout all of her novels. Even the Ripley series has its slow moments. I had hoped the final Ripley novel from Highsmith would be one of her better works; some of the amazon.com reviews looked promising. But sorry to say, Ripley Under Water is just average Ripley fare.
Ripley Under Water starts off with such a wonderful premise. Tom Ripley is being hounded by a fanatic who for some inexplicable reason senses Ripley's murderous past, and is determined to make Ripley's life miserable as he uncovers the truth. But unfortunately Highsmith doesn't turn on the anxiety as expected, and the story has a rather unsatisfactorily flat ending. Beyond this, Highsmith spends so much time re-telling tidbits of the early Ripley novels ... as if there are potential readers who decided to start off on this book rather than follow in sequence (not likely, and not advisable).
But Ripley Under Water works very well in one aspect: the Ripley ambiance. It is amazing how Highsmith can capture the feeling of the characters and the setting so consistently throughout the Ripley series, a series spanning some 30+ years. She spends so much time detailing Tom Ripley's behaviour at being ... Tom Ripley! Enjoyable to an extent, but this too wears thin.
Bottom line: a satisfactory read for Highsmith fans only.
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1.0 out of 5 stars Don't Waste Your Time or Your Money Aug. 29 2001
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
I read all five Ripley books in order of their publication dates. I definitely had an attraction-repulsion thing going with them, but they kept me interested for the most part. However, after awhile the plots got rather ridiculous. "Ripley Under Water" is by far the worst of the series. There are lots of loose ends and half-answered questions, and the main protagonist's actions make no sense. I kept thinking, "He wants to get Ripley. So how come he is handling everything so moronically?" And instead of ending, this book seemed to just peter out. Don't waste your time or your money on this one.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant - a book full of impending menace. Jan. 22 2001
Format:Paperback
This was the first Ripley book I ever read, and remains my firm favourite - I enjoyed it even more than 'The Talented Mr Ripley', which itself is also excellent.
Patricia Highsmith is one of the most effective suspense writers I've come across. I have never been able to put my finger on exactly why - others can do the fancy literary analysis - but you HAVE to keep reading, you feel like you're right there in that place and time, and you feel all of Tom Ripley's worry, relief, triumph and terror as if it was your own.
Her books aren't particularly fast-moving or violent, and don't get to the action directly enough for some people. But if her wonderful, evocative prose gets you, Ripley (re-)discovering the single corpse of one of his victims is more horrifying than anything in a dozen splatter books - I was just dreading it, for pages and pages before it happened.
Ms Highsmith's talent for building tension, suspense and sheer dread are even more marked in Ripley Under Water because we know what's going to happen - Ripley has done some bad things, and somebody is trying to get him into trouble for them. As a plot summary, that's a non-story, but in the hands of Patricia Highsmith it's a taut and compelling thriller.
She gets us right inside Ripley's mind, a place with neither conscience nor much regret about his murders. His privileged existance, thanks to both his ill-gotten gains and the assets of his wealthy wife, is wonderfully
evoked, and we squirm at the creepiness of the Pritchards, his meddling new neighbours.
The waiting, while the reformed predator Ripley is himself preyed upon, is almost agonising. If you've seen the movie and don't like books where you know the ending, then start with this one. It'll scare and surprise you, it's simply a marvellous book.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Some questions
Fascinating and sinister. The whole art of the noir genre is that you get to be on the side of the criminal and many other writers have done this. Read more
Published on Oct. 2 2000 by D. P. Birkett
5.0 out of 5 stars Lovable Sociopath
This, the fifth and final Ripley novel, was published 36 years after the first. Tom Ripley is now married to a beautiful woman and living a very comfortable life in the French... Read more
Published on Sept. 29 2000 by Lisa West
5.0 out of 5 stars A capstone for the Ripley Series
Having read the Ripley books in order, I found this final effort the perfect bookend to "The Talented Mr. Read more
Published on Sept. 12 2000 by Mrs. Linda K. Friedman
5.0 out of 5 stars A highly satisfying Ripley
I was thoroughly fascinated with the character because of the movie, really enjoyed Ripley Underground, did NOT like Ripley's Game because Ripley wasn't in it enough, and LOVED... Read more
Published on Aug. 31 2000 by Catfish_Hunter
5.0 out of 5 stars A highly satisfying Ripley
I was thoroughly fascinated with the character because of the movie, really enjoyed Ripley Underground, did NOT like Ripley's Game because Ripley wasn't in it enough, and LOVED... Read more
Published on Aug. 31 2000 by Catfish_Hunter
5.0 out of 5 stars Inspiration for books writes
A lifelong friend of Patricia Highsmith - we studied together as Princeton juniors - I was pleasantly surprised to find certain of the more, how shall I put it? Read more
Published on Aug. 21 2000
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