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Sinister mystery from one of the best crime writers of the 20th century,
This review is from: The Cry Of The Owl (Paperback)
Patricia Highsmith's crime novels are invariably engagingly sinister tales and "The Cry of the Owl" is no exception. There is a twist in this dark tale very early on as the story of a prowler who spies on a young, engaged woman and her fiance takes a dramatically different turn when the object of the prowler's attentions invites him in for a coffee.
As ever, Highsmith creates a palpable atmosphere of real tension and menace, but for me, there was something lacking in this book. Highsmith decides that her lead character, Robert, will be relatively calm and colected in the face of the troubles that befall him. This is an intriguing choice, as far too much fiction depicts, and indeed even relies upon, characters overreacting to events in order to hammer home a point. However, the problem here is that Robert is difficult to care about. He is not the fascinating character that Highsmith's Tom Ripley is, for example, and midway through the book I found that I did not really care whether things worked out for Robert or not.
Highsmith makes brave choices in her characterisation and plotting, particularly the characters of Jennifer, the young woman Robert spies on, and Nickie, Robert's ex-wife. This sense of nerve and verve is the reason I am giving this book four stars, even though I found that towards its latter stages, "The Cry of the Owl" becomes a frustrating read that doesn't seem to quite hit the mark that it was aiming for.
Highsmith has written better, but a less-than-brilliant Patricia Highsmith effort is still a very decent crime novel.