Tom saw the nylon disappear in the flesh of his neck. Tom gave it another whirl behind the man’s head and pulled still tighter. With his left hand Tom flicked the lever that locked the door. Marcangelo’s gurgle stopped, his tongue began to protrude from the awful wet mouth, his eyes closed in misery, then opened in horror, and began to have the blank, what’s-happening-to-me stare of the dying. -- RIPLEY'S GAME (1974) by Patricia Highsmith.A few of you who know I'm reading the Ripliad have asked me what I think of Ms. Highsmith's famous creation. I just finished the third book in the series, RIPLEY'S GAME, and I have to say it's the weakest thus far. THE TALENTED MR. RIPLEY is a classic. RIPLEY UNDER GROUND (reviewed here) is a good continuation albeit with some far-fetched happenings. In GAME, I began scanning which is never a good sign. But here's the brass tax: when Ripley is on the page, I'm transfixed by how this guy lives, operates, and what he thinks of the most minute observations. The novel should be read for these entertaining chapters and Ms. Highsmith's masterful hand.
However, in GAME, a great deal of text is devoted to leukemia-stricken Jonathan Trevanny, who is tricked by Ripley and a cohort into committing murder. The man follows through to leave his family some money when he dies. Ripley begins to feel guilty for getting Trevanny into the situation, shows up on a train, and helps him off a mafia boss and a bodyguard. That particular passage is riveting but I just didn't find Trevanny a compelling character--though maybe you will, which would definitely add to the book's overall enjoyment.
With many fine pages worth reading, especially when the main protagonist is present--who wouldn't want to read about someone so "charming, literate, and a monster" as described by critic Roger Ebert--the book can be quite entertaining at times. But I'm hoping the next in the series, THE BOY WHO FOLLOWED RIPLEY, is a step up.