You could, if you had known her anyway, fault Patricia Highsmith for many things but her writing is not one of them. There is no one who understood the art of suspense better than her. More than two dozen film adaptations of her books have been made, some of them excellent, including Alfred Hitchcock’s 1951 “Strangers On A Train” and Anthony Minghella’s 1999 “The Talented Mr. Ripley”. The books differ considerably from the films, particularly Ripley, but I must admit it is the film adaptation which first made me aware of the author. In all, there are five Ripley novels, sometimes referred to by fans of Highsmith as the Ripliad. Some are better than others, of course, but all are worth reading because her character is so completely fascinating. He is the ultimate man with no conscience who will stop at nothing to achieve his goal, including several murders which he can execute at the drop of a hat. He has no morals whatsoever, but all the suave and charm and sexual ambiguity that a con artist needs to succeed, He can tell a lie as easily as breathing and is a fascinating study in contradictions but is intensely likeable despite his many faults. All five novels, or for that matter almost anything by Highsmith, are intensely readable and highly recommended.
“One situation – maybe one alone – could drive me to murder: family life, togetherness.”
― Patricia Highsmith