Ripley Under Ground

Patricia Highsmith

You think you have problems? The rich American who bought one of Derwatt’s paintings is making noise about its being a forgery. Ripley, now living in  France with his rich wife Heloise, stands to lose a lot of money if Derwatt is discredited. He is getting a percentage from the gallery and art school founded by the painter, who has been dead for several years. His works for the last five years are all forgeries done by an painter named Bernard Tufts, who is suffering the pangs of conscience over not working under his own name but under the name of Derwatt.

Tom goes to London, masquerades as Derwatt and tries to set the American’s mind at rest. Murchisen, the American, is not content, so Tom, as Tom, invites him to his house to look at Tom’s own Derwatt paintings to compare them. Then when Murchisen is gone, and Tom can get back to his gardening, a cousin of Dickie Greenleaf shows up for a friendly visit. Tom no sooner sees him off than Bernard Tufts shows up to cry on Tom’s shoulder.

It’s one annoying visitor after another. At one point Tom asks himself, ‘Is there ever a moment’s peace?’ Apparently not in this book as Tom races around putting out one fire after another. Police, insistent Americans, uneasy gallery owners, an artist bothered by conscience—they all look to Tom to answer their questions and give them relief. It’s a wonder Tom is able to do all this while only murdering one of them.

All he wants to do is have some peace and quiet to watch TV and snuggle with his wife, who is just as amoral as he is. Alas, it is not to be in this book. Patricia Highsmith was a mistress of ratcheting up the tension and never giving Tom or her readers a moment to catch their breaths.








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