The Cry of the Owl by Patricia Highsmith

cryoftheowlThis is perhaps less known than some of her other novels such as the Ripley novels and Carolher second book recently made into an Oscar-nominated film. It’s a psychological thriller set in the New Jersey /Pennsylvania area of the US in the fifties.

The main character Robert Forster is trying to build a new life after a bad relationship breaks down and is drawn towards a young woman after observing her and her boyfriend in her house in an isolated rural area. He becomes obsessed with her, spying on her through the houses’ un-curtained windows. She gradually develops a suspicion that there is a lurker outside and tells her partner.

Eventually he, Forster, makes his presence known but then makes up a weak excuse for being there which the girl half believes. Nevertheless they gradually form a relationship and she splits with her boyfriend. He, the boyfriend, has suspicions about the identity of the voyeur which leads to a confrontation between him and Forster.

The story continues with numerous twists involving Forster’s ex-wife, the girls’ family and later involving a suggestion of murder. As with many of her novels none of the main characters emerge without personal flaws. It’s an uncomfortable but compelling story full of obsession and jealousy like a lot of her books. A good read.

You can reserve a copy of The Cry of the Owl on South Dublin Libraries’ catalogue here.

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