The five Tom Ripley novels - The Talented Mr. Ripley (1955), Ripley Under Ground (1970), Ripley's Game (1974), The Boy Who Followed Ripley (1980) and Ripley Under Water (1992) - aka Ripliad. Tom Ripley is a not untypical protagonist for the second half of the twentieth century – a likeable sociopath, heroic and demonic, energetic and amoral, overcivilised and undersensitised, with, as an American in Europe, some literary ancestry – who has been so thoughtfully constructed for the reader that “Reading the book[s] becomes exquisitely uncomfortable. [They are] perfectly engineered to make us give our sympathies to the wrong man. To rejoice, even, when luck is on his side ... we get so deep inside his head”.
Twenty-six years after the last Ripley, and twenty-two years after his creator’s death, his appeal continues. He has been played in movies, television and radio, to date, by Alain Delon, Jonathan Kent, Matt Damon, John Malkovich, Barry Pepper and Ian Hart. Or, the search continues for the definitive Ripley.Ripley’s Game is inscribed by the author in 1976; laid in are three aerogrammes from Patricia Highsmith to the recipient, all typed, letters signed, 1976-1977, literary news, her work, plans to meet, “Yes, I no sooner struck ------ with a little buckshot, than I was whammed in the Observer 20 Nov. With an awful photo and a not very sympathetic article. So much for 8 hours of my time.”