Give me books, fruit, french wine and fine weather and a little music out of doors. --John Keats

Saturday, February 13, 2016

"The Cry of the Owl" by Patricia Highsmith

Highsmith is the master of dread. Not in the over-the-top way of King or Koontz, but she forms subtle, understated suspense in such an everyday way that you hardly realize every muscle is tense and you're holding your breath as you read. In this book in particular, for the first half my apprehension built because it was clear something was going to happen--it just hadn't happened yet. Then. When things begin to happen, the plot speeds to a breathless pace and the tension (but how could it possibly?) increases even more.

Another impressive quirk of writing that Highsmith perfected: developing a main character who is simultaneously so weird and yet so sympathetic. She did it with Ripley, and again in Deep Water, and Robert Forester is no exception. He's obviously a bit off, but I still rooted for him with no qualms. Well, maybe I should say few qualms.

This is the story of a man who likes to watch a young woman through her kitchen window, for entirely asexual (but still abnormal) reasons. I know what you're thinking: That can't be a good start to a friendship, right? Yeah, you're right. And the dread begins to build.

I really enjoyed this book (except for an overly melodramatic bit at the end). It had a very satisfying conclusion (almost too satisfying, because of its neatness and completeness), but it wasn't until the very last line that I could breathe a sigh of relief.

No comments: