FORGOTTEN BOOKS #239: RIPLEY’S GAME By Patricia Highsmith

Ripley's game
highsmith Ripley's Game book cover 2
How do you commit the perfect murder? This question has obsessed Patricia Highsmith for her entire career. Highsmith first approached the perfect murder in her classic Strangers on a Train. She returned to this theme in 1955 with another classic: The Talented Mr. Ripley which also was one of the first books to explore identity theft. In 1970, Highsmith set Tom Ripley, sociopathic killer, loose on the high-end Art Market. Ripley’s Game, published in 1974, features Tom Ripley manipulating a terminally ill man into committing murders. Patricia Highsmith is legendary for her psychological approach to crime fiction. In many of her stories and novels, the criminals escape justice. If you’re interested in the randomness of murder and justice, Highsmith shows you just how unpredictable Reality can be. I’m also fond the the John Malkovich performance as Tom Ripley in the movie version of Ripley’s Game. If you haven’t seen it, you’re missing a startling performance.

16 thoughts on “FORGOTTEN BOOKS #239: RIPLEY’S GAME By Patricia Highsmith

  1. Dan

    GAME is my favorite of the Ripley books and I believe the film is the best of the Ripley movies—though I haven’t see THE AMERICAN FRIEND.

    1. george Post author

      Dan, I still need to read THE BOY WHO FOLLOWED RIPLEY and RIPLEY UNDERWATER. But I agree with you: RIPLEY’S GAME is the best of the Ripley books I’ve read so far.

  2. Nick Jones

    Ripley’s Games is, I think, my favourite Tom Ripley novel, and possibly my favourite Highsmith novel as well. That’s actually my Heinemann first edition you have as one of your images, George! It was the first Highsmith first edition I ever bought (although I read the novel long before that), from a since disappeared secondhand bookshop on Cecil Court, London.

  3. Richard

    I tried STRANGERS ON A TRAIN but didn’t like it much as it seems too obvious, but that may have been because I’d heard and read so much about it, sort of like reading ACKROYD after being told the circumstances and identity of the murderer. I tried another book – don’t recall title – and stopped at 40 pages. So I’ve not tried Ripley. Perhaps Barbara would like those books as she likes dark.

    All that is why I tried short stories, with which I had equal success.

  4. John

    This is my favorite of the Ripley books. A bit of a rewrite of Strangers on a Train, but much more disturbing and sophistiicated in its use the murder by proxy motif. I also liked the movie adaptation with Malkovich, though I dont’ think he’s the perfect Ripley by a long shot.

  5. Kelly Robinson

    THE AMERICAN FRIEND is fun, although it’s a hoot to see Dennis Hopper as Ripley. He’s the most un-Ripley-like person I can imagine. The garrotting scene is really great, though. I love Ripley as a character, and I find him endlessly fascinating. In this one, I get a kick out of how he initially finds his neighbor loathsome because he can’t abide his watch.

    1. george Post author

      Kelly, Tom Ripley is a fascinating character. I’m with you on Dennis Hopper: not Ripley material. Malcovich isn’t quite right, either. But he sure is creepy!


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