‘The Cry of the Owl,’ by Patricia Highsmith

Novel, 1962

Terrific psychological thriller, in which a deranged cast of characters get involved and wound up with each other’s affairs. Every one of them ends up in a much worse place than when they started. A terrific piece of storytelling, in which tragic and almost comedically escalating situations involving stalking, ex-wives and vengeful lovers are played out against a backdrop of respectable small town America. One or two elements misfire ever so slightly – notably, Dr Knott’s role and behaviour towards the end of the book – and the upping and shifting points of view need a little adjustment when they perhaps too frequently occur, but above all, this is a taught, wonderfully paced story of common, everyday suburban insanity.

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