The Boy who Followed Ripley, fourth in Patricia Highsmith’s series, makes for very good CD listening. I felt it was a distinct improvement on Ripley’s Game. In this story, a young American lad who claims to be 18 but looks a couple of years younger approaches Ripley, and it soon becomes clear both that he has (for some mysterious reason) sought Ripley out, and also that the pair are very much on the same wavelength, psychologically and emotionally (because Ripley, for all his conscience deficit, can certainly be an emotional chap in certain circumstances.)
The truth about the boy’s identity, and his past, soon emerges. Despite the terrible nature of the boy’s revelations, Ripley is strongly attracted to him, and installs him in the house he shares with his rich and glamorous wife, nominally to help with the gardening.
The gay subtext of the earlier Ripley stories is much closer to the surface of this one, and plays a more important part in the development of the plot. There is extensive discussion of Highsmith's gay writing in Andrew Wilson's important biography of her, Beautiful Shadow, which will be the subject of a future post.