Book 65 on my “Books Read for 2019″—Patricia Highsmith: The Talented Mr. Ripley—A sociopath justifies his murderous behavior.
Written in 1955, this first novel portrays the sociopath Tom Ripley as he sees himself. Since he perceives everything wrong in his life is caused by others, he justifies his reactions even if they include lying, theft, impersonation, and murder.
Dickie Greenleaf is a privileged young man who loses himself in Italy rather than work in the family business. His father, convinced Tom has influence over Dickie, dispatches the young man to fetch his son, all expenses paid. Tom convinces Dickie he is an ally in deceiving Dickie’s father, earning an invitation to live the high social life.
When Dickie grows tired of his new acquaintance and attempts to put distance between them, Tom will do anything to maintain his social status, including murdering Dickie and assuming his persona (and trust fund). Those deceptions lead to an ever-growing labyrinth of deceits.
The magic of this novel is not simply the story, but immersing the reader in Ripley’s mental processes, making the act of turning pages an accomplice in Ripley’s story.
Why don’t I rate the books I read? The simple truth is I stop reading any book I don’t like, so I never finish it and don’t count it as a book read. Thus, I like every book I complete. The rest is subjective. Whether or not you will like the book is as much about whether the subject interests you and the author’s style is one you enjoy.
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