by Lee Jordan ‧ RELEASE DATE: May 25, 1982
Solid, comfy contempo-gothic chills--as young Rachel Cater, California-born wife of an English writer, is quietly terrorized by a large feral cat (and by a mysterious human enemy) in her isolated old house in the Sussex Downs. Rachel's first encounter with the feline menace is sudden and violent: the cat jumps out suddenly on the road, causing a car crash in which Rachel (the driver) is seriously injured and lecherous handyman Leech (the passenger) is killed. Thus, limping Rachel now comes home to recuperate, eager to return to husband Bill and baby Sophie. But she's haunted by dreams and visions (the cat's face, a tapping sound)--and then Bill is called away to Hollywood for a screenplay job. So, though not completely alone (there's village gift Penny for day-help, avuncular vet Alec and glamorous new neighbor Celia for occasional company), Rachel gets increasingly spooked when things get creepy. The car-crash-wounded cat--a desperately hungry, ex-domestic renegade--makes a few appearances, killing a rabbit and lunging at Rachel inside the house. (Rachel wonders if cats can harbor feelings of vengeance.) Baby Sophie is nearly smothered; Rachel's new dog is poisoned; Penny is framed as a thief. And surely the cat isn't responsible for all those things--or for heavy-breathing phone calls. Enter, then, the human suspects: baby Sophie's forbidding Nurse, who left in a huff when Rachel came home from the hospital; Leech's bitter widow, who thinks that Rachel was having an affair with the dead man; and Bill's mysterious, never-seen first wife Sally--who turns out to have been an acquaintance of Celia's. But the real psycho-villain, of course, is someone close and un-suspected (many readers, unlike Rachel, will suspect); and there's a properly scary, rainy-dark finale featuring cut phone-wires, flashing knives, the leaping cat, and longwinded confessions. Nothing new--but better written than most such chillers, with nice Sussex atmosphere and engaging characters to spruce up those hand-me-down implausibilities.
Pub Date: May 25, 1982
Page Count: -
Publisher: New American Library
Review Posted Online: N/A
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1982
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