I enjoyed listening to the second BBC Radio CD about Tom Ripley, this time based on Patricia Highsmith’s Ripley Under Ground. Again, I read the book a long time ago, and although I don’t think it is as dazzling as The Talented Mr Ripley, it is nevertheless good.
In this story, eight yeas after the events of the first, Tom is married to a wealthy French woman, and living the good life. This is funded by his involvement in an art forgery scam. Tom and a few pals have arranged with a nervy British artist, Bernard, to fake pictures by Derwatt, whose death some years ago is (for some reason) unknown to anyone but the conspirators. But then an art collector begins to suspect tht he has been sold a fake, and although Tom impersonates Derwatt at an art show, Bernard loses his nerve and threatens to give the game away.
Tom soon finds himself driven to commit murder again. Not for the first time, the police suspect he has something to hide, but the combination of his silver tongue, and some outrageous luck and coincidences are the means by which Highsmith keeps him at arm’s length from justice.
This story was adapted for radio by Alan McDonald. Alan was one of the first crime writers I got to know – he wrote a couple of books about a Scouse female private eye called Rosie before I published my first Harry Devlin. But he had some bad luck with his publisher (the covers made the stories look like Catherine Cooksons) and he hasn’t written crime novels for quite a while – though, being based in the Lake District, he did give me some valuable help when I was working on The Coffin Trail. He has a long track record with the broadcast media and Ripley Under Ground is a typically professional piece of work.