Then came the stretch of jammed-together Victorian houses that had been converted into small hotels with grandiose names in neon lights between Doric doorway pillars: MANCHESTER ARMS, KING ALFRED, CHESIRE HOUSE. Tom knew that behind the genteel respectability of those narrow lobbies some of the best murderers of the present day took refuge for a night or so, looking equally respectable themselves. England was England, God bless it! -- RIPLEY UNDER GROUND (1970)It's six years after the events of The Talented Mr. Ripley and Tom Ripley is living with his pharmaceutical-heiress wife in a French villa. Ripley’s lifestyle is supported by Dickie Greenleaf's fortune (inherited after he murdered Dickie in the previous novel) and Derwatt Ltd., an art forgery scheme that begins to unravel when an art collector suspects someone is duplicating the paintings of a famous recluse artist. Ripley invites the suspicious collector to his villa where he attempts to persuade the man to drop the investigation. When the collector refuses, Ripley takes matters into his own hands by giving the man a tour of the wine cellar where... well, you can imagine what follows.
Ripley Under Ground isn't on the same creative level as the classic The Talented Mr. Ripley because of some implausible situations--Ms. Highsmith concocts stuff that will surprise and stretch the believability factor. Still, I found the continuing adventures of the con artist and serial killer's supercilious actions quite entertaining. I'm looking forward to the next three books in the Ripliad.