Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Five Ripleys

The Five Ripleys

To prepare for a Noircon panel in Philadelphia this November 6th, I'm reading the five novels about Tom Ripley, penned by Patricia Highsmith.

Highsmith made quite a name for herself with her first book, STRANGERS ON A TRAIN. So much so, that Alfred Hitchcock directed the film, and Raymond Chandler worked on the screenplay.

I thought it might be interesting to read the five books in the order they were written. By today's standards, the books came out at a leisurely pace – it took Highsmith 36 years, from 1955 for her first Ripley book to the last in 1991. In between the Ripley books, Highsmith kept busy with other novels.

As a mystery writer, I want to find out how the character of Tom Ripley changes over time. It's been years since I've read these books, but I'm pleased to say the first book in the series – THE TALENTED MR RIPLEY – is still a grabber. I'll be writing about this book in detail very soon, but I recommend it to anyone interested in a great character-driven story.