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Friday, September 03, 2010

Ripley; Believe It or Not

I just finished Ripley Under Ground, written by Patricia Highsmith and published in 1970. It's the second novel in a series of five. The first book was creepy, but well-done.

This story was fairly implausible; thus, I read it as a cold war allegory -- published prior to the Pentagon papers (1971) and the Church committee hearings (1975).

Highsmith was simply ahead of her time describing unbelievable tales of American dastardly behavior abroad.

In this book, Ripley, the amoral American-in-residence among Europeans, rides roughshod over the region. His self-interested murders and lies are open secrets among those in his closest circle, even though the public officials he evades cannot nail him for the crimes. While Ripley originally went abroad to seek adventure (and perhaps to provide assistance and earn some cash), he is now a man of leisure living in the shadows off a former victim's inheritance, his own criminal activities, and his European wife's allowance. And his wife knows about many of his past and present misdeeds.

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