BBC AUDIO CD REVIEW: The Complete Ripley Radio Mysteries, £12.50 from

What a treat. In these dramatisations, BBC Radio 4 brings all Patricia Highsmith's Ripley novels together in one thrilling series.The first was an excellent film; the second was less successful on screen; since when it's all gone quiet


But here you can find the BBC showing exactly how it should be done, recreating in all his Machiavellian, sinister glory one of the greatest creations of crime fiction.

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The five hours, rich in atmosphere, don't seem a moment too long in the endlessly-fascinating, twisted world of Tom Ripley.

What Ripley wants, Ripley gets, seizing it with cool, cruel cunning, dirtying his hands only when he absolutely has to, but dirtying them good and proper. Will he cover his traces? Can he be caught? You know it is going to take the most twisted of minds to even come close.

In The Talented Mr Ripley, Tom makes a bid for another man's

inheritance and succeeds, but has he really got away with it? Ripley Under Ground is set a few years later, when Tom is living in luxury in a French chateau with his beautiful wife Heloise '“ but the clever art forgery which funds Tom's expensive tastes is about to be uncovered.

In Ripley's Game, Tom sets up a man he dislikes to carry out two perfect murders, while in The Boy Who Followed Ripley, a rich young stalker arrives at Belle Ombre and he and Tom end up fighting for their lives. Finally, in Ripley Under Water, strange new neighbours show an overdeveloped interest in Ripley's past. Will Tom's shady dealings be exposed?

Ian Hart is just perfect in the role, and the rest of the cast support him admirably in a classic piece of story-telling which is given an excellent new platform in these tense, true and lively dramatisations.

Phil Hewitt