The character of Duckworth could have made up for this: he certainly has the potential to explore interesting ideas
fiction here: everyone is rather nasty and venal and corrupt and selfish. It is a whodunnit in which everyone has dunnit to some extent.
The problem is that the actual whodunnit element, which centres on the death of the director of the gallery where the exhibition is being held, is not as interesting or as clever as it should be. The character of Duckworth could have made up for this: he certainly has the potential to explore some interesting ideas about the way we think about murder and the fact that some of us – all of us? – have thought, or said, “I could kill him” or “I wish he was dead”.
But Duckworth never manages to do the wonderfully disturbing thing that Ripley does: he never makes you want him to win, you never feel charmed by him, which means all you can do is sit and listen to him talk about his vile crimes and put up with him glowing with satisfaction that he’s got away with them again. “A mellow old age lay before him,” he thinks at one point, and, sadly, it probably does.
Tim Parks’s character is unpleasant and set for a ‘mellow old age’