‘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 … Continue reading ‘The Cry of the Owl,’ by Patricia Highsmith

‘Run,’ directed by Aneesh Chaganty

Movie, 2020 Pretty solid, fairly standard psychological thriller, featuring a dysfunctional mother/daughter relationship. While there’s a degree of knowing what’s coming next, and genre tropes are dutifully ticked off, this is nonetheless well done and watchable. A new moments, perhaps, of unintended humour here and there, but a good watch for genre fans. The two main actresses are excellent throughout and rinse as much tension … Continue reading ‘Run,’ directed by Aneesh Chaganty

‘I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore,’ directed by Macon Blair

Movie, 2017 Quirky independent American film, following the adventures of a nurse, who engages the help of a heavy metal fan to investigate the robbery of her home. The quick descent and peril endured by the heroes at the hands of unrelenting and grim aggressors and an over stretched police department is both funny and fast paced – the sense of essentially decent, flawed and … Continue reading ‘I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore,’ directed by Macon Blair

“Red Sparrow,” directed by Francis Lawrence

Movie, 2018 A welcome characterisation of a strong female central character, dumped, somewhat, in what feels like and old-fashioned anti-Russian espionage film, albeit from the Russian Red Sparrow’s point of view. While much of the film feels modern, the routing out of the mole, the nipping across borders and coming up against double agents is a little passé, while the sex and gore feel overdone … Continue reading “Red Sparrow,” directed by Francis Lawrence

‘Gone Girl,’ by Gillian Flynn

Novel, 2012 Thriller, written from the viewpoints of the two main protagonists, in which a husband falls under suspicion of murder following the disappearance of his wife. A page turning read, with a number of twists and turns along the way. The interesting aspect of this book is the dual narration and the way that develops and gives nods, here and there, to straightforward mysteries, … Continue reading ‘Gone Girl,’ by Gillian Flynn

“All the Money in the World”, directed by Ridley Scott

Movie, 2017 Account of the kidnap and eventual outcome when Italian terrorists snatched John Paul Getty’s grandson, John Paul Getty the Third. A film which is well shot and focusses on the emotional struggles, particularly of mother Gail Harris, but also Cinquanta, the kidnapper closest to the victim. Period detail, the gruesome paparazzi and scenes of brutality towards the victim pepper a film which may … Continue reading “All the Money in the World”, directed by Ridley Scott

“Charade,” directed by Stanley Donen

Movie, 1963 Lavish spy caper in part; in another part, the glimpses of a crueller brutality and corrupt world give what looks like an old-fashioned romantic thriller and uncomfortable and, at times, ill-fitting feel. Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn are their usual feel good, charming selves, although they feel a little lost and silly in a Paris which seems hemmed in and dangerous. The sumptuous … Continue reading “Charade,” directed by Stanley Donen

“Your Blue-Eyed Boy,” by Helen Dunmore

Novel, 1998 Hugely atmospheric and quite an unsettling book, with a protagonist and her family working through changes to their lives and situations and relocating from London to a marshy place on the coast. The arrival of a face from the past pushes numerous psychological buttons along the way, with the world built up by the first person narrator being chipped away. There’s unease and … Continue reading “Your Blue-Eyed Boy,” by Helen Dunmore

“A Dog’s Ransom” by Patricia Highsmith

Novel, 1972 Story of an Ivy League graduate who’s somewhat compromised over his life on the beat, and who makes a few choices which are both strange, and which lead him into situations he’s hopeless at trying to deal with. A book where the tension is skillfully ratcheted up with the reader taken on a journey focused on a main character who slips away from … Continue reading “A Dog’s Ransom” by Patricia Highsmith

“Blood Sympathy”, by Reginald Hill

Novel, 1993 Murder mystery, set in Luton and featuring the first outing of ex-car plant worker Joe Sixsmith and his cat, Whitey. If this sounds a little mixed up and curious, it matches the book’s taste and flavours which awkwardly mix thriller, mystery, soap opera and social commentary. By no means a dud, although the book hasn’t aged especially well, with some of the language … Continue reading “Blood Sympathy”, by Reginald Hill