Ripley's Game

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For the 2002 movie based on the novel, see Ripley's Game (film).
Ripley's Game
RipleysGame.jpg
First edition (UK)
Author Patricia Highsmith
Cover artist Graham Miller[2]
Country United States
Language English
Series Ripliad
Genre crime novel
Publisher Heinemann (UK) &
Random House (USA)
Publication date
11 March 1974 (UK)
May 1974 (US)[1]
Media type Print (Hardback & Paperback)
Pages 288 pp
ISBN 0-434-33514-2
OCLC 1057535
813/.5/4
LC Class PZ3.H53985 Rk5 PS3558.I366
Preceded by Ripley Under Ground
Followed by The Boy Who Followed Ripley

Ripley's Game (1974) is a psychological thriller by Patricia Highsmith, the third in her "Ripliad" series.

Plot summary[edit]

In the third Ripley novel, Tom Ripley is a wealthy man in his early thirties. He lives in Villeperce, France, with his wealthy French wife, Heloise. Ripley 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[s] 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 the host, Jonathan Trevanny, a poor British picture framer suffering from myeloid leukemia, insulted him. 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 Trevanny's leukemia has worsened, though Minot does not. Trevanny, who fears his death will leave his wife and son penniless, accepts Minot's offer of a visit to a German specialist in Hamburg. While in Hamburg, he is persuaded to commit the murder for money.

After carrying out the contract — a shooting at a crowded U-bahn station — Trevanny insists that he is through as a hired gun. Minot invites Trevanny to Munich, where he visits another doctor. Minot persuades Trevanny to murder a Mafia boss, this time on a train using a garrotte, but he also gives him the far less desirable option of using a gun. At first Trevanny is horrified by the idea, but he eventually gives in and finds himself on the train. He resolves to shoot the mafioso and commit suicide before he can be caught, and he asks Minot to ensure that whatever happens to him the money will go to his wife. 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 Mafia boss himself. He asks Trevanny not to let Minot know that he has "assisted" with the assassination.

Back in France, Ripley and Trevanny form a strange sort of bond; Ripley learns to take care of someone other than himself, while Trevanny learns to abandon his conscience and do whatever it takes to survive. Trevanny's wife Simone discovers a Swiss bank book with a large sum in Trevanny's name and starts to suspect that her husband is involved in something shady. She links the rumor about her husband's 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 turns to Ripley to help him concoct a credible story. Ripley acknowledges his role in Trevanny's dilemma and promises to shepherd him through the ordeal.

Ripley learns from Minot that the Mafia in Hamburg appear to be suspicious of Minot's involvement with the murders. Minot goes on the run after the Mafia bombs his house. Ripley begins to fear Mafia revenge when he receives a couple of suspicious phone calls. After sending Heloise and their housekeeper, Mme. Annette, 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 forces them to phone their boss in Milan and say that Ripley is not the man they are after. He then kills both assassins. 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 Trevanny's house, where a quartet of Mafia gunmen appear. One of them opens fire on Ripley, but Trevanny falls in front of him and is mortally wounded; he dies in Simone's arms. Minot is thrown out of the Mafia car as they drive away; they had kidnapped and tortured him into revealing Trevanny's name and address.

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

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