Netflix’s Ripley Has a Book Series Behind It

Netflix’s Ripley Has a Book Series Behind It

preview for Ripley - Official Trailer (Netflix)

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NETFLIX’S RIPLEY ADAPTATION is the newest in a long line of movies and television shows bringing the thief, serial killer, and fraud to life. First off was Purple Noon, a French 1960 rendition. But audiences may be more familiar with more recent versions in film, one starring Dennis Hopper in 1977 (The American Friend), one in 2002 starring John Malkovich (Ripley’s Game), and, most notably, a 1999 film starring Matt Damon (The Talented Mr. Ripley).

Now, Andrew Scott is taking on the title role, fresh off his widely-acclaimed appearance in All Of Us Strangers. Rather than a film, however, Netflix is taking a stab at a limited series; anyone expecting a one-to-one reenactment of Matt Damon’s performance in The Talented Mr. Ripley will be sorely disappointed, however.

The adventures of Tom Ripley all come from not one, but five books from famed writer Patricia Highsmith. She also wrote The Price of Salt (adapted into the Oscar-winning filmCarol) and Strangers on a Train. Over the course of Highsmith’s career, she wrote 22 novels, and was best known for penning psychological thrillers (meaning they were perfect for television and movie adaptations).

So far, only three of the Tom Ripley novels have actually been adapted into a show or film. Still, that’s three different parts of Ripley’s life, each with their own various live-action versions. It’s a lot to make sense of if you’re coming in after watching Ripley.

If you’re enjoying Ripley, or want to prepare before you check it out, here’s where to start with the Tom Ripley series (sometimes called the “Ripliad”), along a brief summary of each book.

How many Ripley books are there?

There are five books about Tom Ripley. The first was published in 1955, and the last was published in 1991.

The Talented Mr. Ripley

The Talented Mr. Ripley

The Talented Mr. Ripley

The Talented Mr. Ripley

Credit: W. W. Norton & Company

The first book in the series (and the book with the most well-known adaptations) follows young Tom Ripley in New York City. He struggles to make a living and makes money as a con-man.

A businessman gives Ripley a task one day: recover his son in Italy so he can return to run the business. Rather than follow the job to the letter, however, sees an opportunity to budge his way into the world of the rich.

Ripley Under Ground

Ripley Under Ground

Ripley Under Ground

Ripley Under Ground

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Credit: W. W. Norton & Company

Six years after the events of the first book, Ripley is now a married man in France. He’s continued his scheming ways, now forging art to make his income. But nothing ever goes easy when it comes to crime, and Ripley has to work to keep his enterprise from falling apart.

Ripley’s Game

Ripley’s Game

Ripley's Game

Ripley’s Game

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Credit: W.W. Norton & Company

The third book finds Ripley back again with his wife in France. His bliss is interrupted this time, however, by an associate offering Ripley a large sum of money to kill someone. He refuses, but still manages to get involved, eventually coming face to face with the Mafia.

The Boy Who Followed Ripley

The Boy Who Followed Ripley

The Boy Who Followed Ripley

The Boy Who Followed Ripley

Credit: W. W. Norton & Company

Trouble ends up finding Ripley in the fourth installment of the series. A boy named Billy approaches Ripley and asks him for a job. As the two get to know one another, Ripley discovers the boy’s name is actually Frank, and he’s hiding from the police.

Ripley Under Water

Ripley Under Water

Ripley Under Water

Ripley Under Water

Credit: W. W. Norton & Company

The last of the Ripley novels, it follows the conniving protagonist as he’s faced with some of the past crimes he committed in previous books. To save his reputation and protect his livelihood, Ripley must return to his illegal ways.

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