ⓘ Ripleys Game. Tom Ripley continues enjoying his wealthy lifestyle in Villeperce, France, with his wife, Heloise. He spends his days living comfortably in his ho ..

                                     

ⓘ Ripleys Game

Tom Ripley continues enjoying his wealthy lifestyle in Villeperce, France, with his wife, Heloise. He spends his days living comfortably in his house, Belle Ombre, until an associate, an American criminal named Reeves Minot, asks him if he can commit a murder for him. Ripley - who "detest murder, unless absolutely necessary" - turns down the offer of $96.000 for the two hits, and Minot goes back to Hamburg, Germany.

The previous month, Ripley had gone to a party in Fontainebleau, where he was insulted by the host, Jonathan Trevanny, a poor British picture framer suffering from myeloid leukemia. As revenge, Ripley suggests to Minot that he might try to convince Trevanny to commit the two murders. To ensure that the plan will work, Ripley starts a rumor that Trevanny has only months to live, and suggests that Minot fabricate evidence that Trevannys leukemia has worsened, though Minot does not. Trevanny, who fears his death will leave his wife and son destitute, accepts Minots offer of a visit to a medical specialist in Hamburg. There, he is persuaded to commit a murder in exchange for money.

After carrying out the contract - a shooting in a crowded U-Bahn station - Trevanny insists that he is through as a hired gun. Minot invites him to Munich, where he visits another doctor. Minot persuades Trevanny to kill a Mafia boss, this time on a train using either a garrotte or a gun. Trevanny reluctantly gives in and finds himself on the train. He resolves to shoot the mafioso and commit suicide before he can be caught, asking Minot to ensure that his wife gets the money. Before Trevanny can go through with it, however, Ripley - who had started to feel responsible for getting Trevanny into the situation - shows up and executes the mafioso himself. He asks Trevanny not to let Minot know that he has "assisted" with the assassination.

Trevannys wife Simone discovers a Swiss bank book with a large sum in his name and starts to suspect that he is hiding something from her. She links the rumor about her husbands demise to Ripley and asks Trevanny to tell her how, exactly, he has been making so much money. Trevanny is unable to explain it to her and asks Ripley to help concoct a credible story. Ripley acknowledges his role in Trevannys dilemma and promises to shepherd him through the ordeal. The Mafia becomes suspicious of Minots involvement with the murders and bomb his house, prompting him to flee. Ripley begins to fear Mafia revenge when he receives a couple of suspicious phone calls. After sending Heloise and their housekeeper away, Ripley asks Trevanny to help him deal with any Mafia reprisals at Belle Ombre.

When two Mafia hitmen turn up at Belle Ombre, Ripley kills one and forces the other to phone his boss in Milan and say that Ripley is not the man they are after before being executed. Simone then shows up at the house demanding answers - and discovers the corpses and is sent away in a taxi. Ripley and Trevanny drive to a remote village to burn the corpses in their own car. A few days later, Ripley visits Trevannys house, where a quartet of Mafia gunmen appear. One of them opens fire on Ripley, but Trevanny steps in front of him and is mortally wounded; he dies in Ripleys car on the way to hospital. Ripley is unsure whether Trevannys action was by accident or design.

A few months later, Ripley encounters Simone in Fontainebleau, and she spits at him. He realizes that Simone has accepted her husbands blood money, and in doing so has remained silent about her suspicions of Ripleys instigation of the entire affair.

                                     

1. Reception

In the New York Times, Christopher Lehmann-Haupt wrote that the novel "gets off to a very strong beginning" and described how he appreciated the plot once Ripley set it in motion and stood back. He concluded:

But then, at the height of the climactic scene. Miss Highsmith blows the whole thing. She decides to bring Tom Ripley back to center stage, and since there is no reason whatsoever for him to be there, she must force him on us implausibly. From that point on the pieces of her novel fall further and further apart, and by the end the whole business has gotten so silly that it is difficult to recall what got us interested in the first place.

                                     

2. Adaptations

Film

  • Ripleys Game was adapted in 1977 by Wim Wenders as Der Amerikanische Freund, starring Dennis Hopper as Ripley.
  • It was adapted under its original title in 2002 by director Liliana Cavani, with John Malkovich as Ripley.

Radio

  • The 2009 BBC Radio 4 adaptation stars Ian Hart as Ripley, Helen Longworth as Heloise, Tom Brooke as Trevanny, Paul Rider as Minot and Janice Acquah as Simone.