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review 2017-08-22 18:40
The Talented Mr. Ripley by Patricia Highsmith
The Talented Mr. Ripley - Patricia Highsmith

 

**Please note that this review is LOADED with spoilers! If you plan to read this book in the future, you should! But you should NOT continue to read this review.**

 

To Tom Ripley, being bored, being around dull people and having nothing to do are among the WORST things in existence. Of course, he never has to be bored again after brutally murdering his friend and assuming his identity.

 

Tom is recruited by Mr. Greenleaf, (the father of Tom's acquaintance, Dickie), to bring his son home from Italy. Tom is even given a hefty sum with which to support himself in Italy while working his come-home-magic on his friend. Unfortunately, Ripley has no luck persuading Dickie to do anything, other than to get stumbling drunk nearly every minute of the day. Then, shortly after an awkward scene where Tom is caught trying on Dickie's clothes, Tom decides to whack Dickie and that's where this story really begins.

 

I'd seen the movie with Matt Damon a long time ago, but I've always been fascinated with the character of Tom Ripley and wanted to read the book for myself. In the 50's, stories from the viewpoint of the murderer were rare, not like today. I think it was also rare, (feel free to correct me), to have the antagonist be likable at times. I mean, there you are, in Ripley's mind- rolling along thinking about your afternoon cocktails and that evening's parties and then BAM! He's whacking someone across the head with an oar. And then whacking them again. And then across their neck. And then stabbing them with it as if it were a sharp instrument. He's wheezing and out of breath and he's still going. And there's the reader, a bit stunned, wondering how we got to this point and where did everything go wrong? This right here is what I liked best about the story.

 

Now we have Criminal Minds and FBI profilers that write books about serial killers, sociopaths and the like. In the 50's when this book was written, that was not the case. I think Patricia Highsmith had the thought processes of Ripley down pat. Nothing is ever his fault. He is just so clever and everyone else so dull and stupid. The depravity of his thoughts are presented so matter-of-fact-ly that they could almost pass for normal. His ability to read the emotions and thoughts of others and anticipate what they'll do and how they'll react in certain situations is astonishing. It's almost like Ripley was not a person at all, but instead just a collection of facial expressions and witty banter wrapped around an all encompassing greed. He was a mimic of a person. He had nothing within himself-all that he was came from outside.

 

"He loved possessions, not masses of them, but a select few that he did not part with. They gave a man self-respect. Not ostentation but quality, and the love that cherished the quality. Possessions reminded him that he existed, and made him enjoy his existence. It was as simple as that. And wasn't that worth something? He existed."

 

He was so good at his machinations that he, himself believed them. He would imagine scenes in his head over and over again-so they would become real. To him, real in his head equated to real in reality. He believed so totally and utterly that it was easy for him to make others believe too. To me, this is where the strength of this book lies-the creation of Tom Ripley. He is such a fascinating character that I can see myself reading this again in the future.

 

This story really wouldn't work in today's world, with all of our phones and cameras and facial recognition software: in that regard The Talented Mr. Ripley is dated. However, as far as the creation of a believable sociopath, Tom Ripley would be right at home in an episode of Criminal Minds-and he would give the investigators a good run for their money.

 

Highly recommended!

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review 2017-08-22 02:11
Mr Ripley!
The Talented Mr. Ripley - Patricia Highsmith

 I need a massage from all that tension Mr. Ripley caused in my neck!

 

More tomorrow because it's Preacher time. 

 

 

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review 2017-08-19 16:32
Through A Glass Darkly by Donald Kirch
Through A Glass Darkly - Donald Allen Kirch

 

The site of the all the action in this book is Manchester House. Built in the small town of Atchison, it's known by the town-folk as a place to be avoided and it's even known by the local police force as the place they often have to go to recover dead bodies. In other words, everyone knows not to go in there.

 

So of course, here comes Dr. Holzer and his team. I'm tempted to call them paranormal investigators, but they're really not. We have one skeptic, one archaeologist, one psychic, and Professor Holzer. Later in their investigation, Indrid Night appears with his deaf and mute assistant, Lars. Night was easily the most interesting character in the entire story-even more so than the ghosts and spirits that were present in the house. A professional expert in dealing with hauntings of all kinds, I would have happily read an entire book about him alone.

 

Where the story lost its grip on me was when the explanation for the haunting was revealed. (This is almost always where haunted house stories fall apart for me.) Also, the dialogue between the characters never quite came together in the right way for me to believe it. It was kind of stilted and unnatural. Lastly, perhaps it's too many of these types of shows on TV now, but I kept picturing this as an episode of ghost hunters. This book deserved better than that, but I couldn't help my mind from seeing it in that manner. I hope this makes sense.

 

Overall, the imagination and creativity here were top notch, even if the execution was slightly clunky. I would still recommend this to fans of shows like the Ghost Hunters, and also to fans of haunted house stories!

 

*I was provided a free PDF of this story in exchange for my honest review. This is it.*

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review 2017-08-15 22:30
The Devil's Own Work by Alan Judd, narrated by Matt Godfrey
The Devil's Own Work - Alan Judd,Owen King

 

The Devil's Own Work is a beautifully written, subtly told Faustian tale, which the narrator performs perfectly.

 

A man relates the story of his friend, Edward, and how he became a famous and successful writer. A writer who, although he writes many words, ultimately has nothing of substance to say. Further along, we discover that Edward inherited a manuscript from a recently deceased author named Tyrell. With that manuscript he also seems to have inherited a beautiful, ageless woman named Eudoxy.

 

As the story unfolds, we learn more about the manuscript, (which only can be read one letter at a time, because to try to see an actual word results in the reader seeing gibberish.) It's when this manuscript falls into Edward's hands that he suddenly becomes successful. Is that because of the manuscript itself, or because of the mysterious Eudoxy? You'll have to read this to find out!

 

This novella length story is tight and slow to build. There isn't necessarily a denouement, but instead a growing realization of horror and what is truly involved. If you are a reader expecting a lot of action, this isn't the tale for you. However, if you have a love of language and precise storytelling, AND this premise sounds intriguing to you, I highly recommend you give The Devil's Own Work a try. It probably won't provoke any screams or shouts of terror from you, but I bet it will give you a bad case of the heebies-jeebies.

 

Highly recommended!

 

*This audiobook was provided free of charge by the narrator, in exchange for my honest feedback. This is it.*

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review 2017-08-07 16:00
The Suicide Motor Club by Christopher Buehlman
The Suicide Motor Club - Christopher Buehlman

 

 Vampires and American muscle cars. It's like this book was tailored to me personally. And on top of that, it ROCKED!

 

A family is on a road trip on an American highway one night, with their young son in the back seat. A car with no lights on pulls up next to them, grabs the arm of the boy, (he had his arm out the window), and poof, the boy is gone. Next thing you know, the car is crashed on the side of the road, with both mom and dad badly injured. Where did the boy go? Who took him? Will he ever see his father and mother again? You'll have to read this to find out.

 

There's no sparkling here and there's no romance, (well, maybe a little, but it's a different type of romance.) Instead, these vamps traveled in a pack during the late 60's. For me, the time period was a perfect, refreshing setting because: 1. the cars were all American,(this was a time before the invasion of imported cars), 2. I'm an American car gal AND I love muscle cars and 3. there were no cell phones or other technologies distracting me from the story.

 

At this point in my horror-reading life, I'm vampired out. It takes a special book to get me excited about them, and this one was it. I loved the return of vampires with hypnotizing skills, (remember when Dracula did that hypnotizing thing?), ones that can make you do his/her bidding and then forget you ever saw them. I enjoyed the fact that these vampires had other special skills which I'll leave you to discover on your own, (but trust me the skills were COOL). I loved that these monsters were just that: MONSTERS in capital letters. Lastly, I also loved the fact that the protagonist was strong and female, never exactly sure of her strength but pressing on just the same. Jude was one to root for and root I did! 

 

Now I'm sad that I only have one Christopher Buehlman book left to read. If you're out there, sir, I hope you're working on something new!

 

If you haven't read any of Mr. Buehlman's work as of yet, you should rectify that-and quickly! I doubt you'd be disappointed with any of them, but I highly recommend The Suicide Motor Club! It might just restore your faith in vampire horror stories and give you a new author to read!

 

You can get your copy here: The Suicide Motor Club

 

*I obtained my copy through my awesome public library, because I'm usually broke. Libraries RULE*

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