A 1001 MIDNIGHTS Review
by Bruce Taylor:


GEOFFREY HOUSEHOLD – Watcher in the Shadows. Little Brown, US, hardcover, 1960. Paperback reprint: Bantam, 1961. UK edition: Michael Joseph, hc, 1960. TV movie: CBS, 1972, as Deadly Harvest.

GEOFFREY HOUSEHOLD Watcher in the Shadows

   While not as famous as Rogue Male, this too is a first-class example of that uniquely British crime novel, the thriller.

   Working quietly in a sleepy English village, Charles Dennim, a zoologist, watches as the front of his home is blown apart by a letter bomb. Investigation proves the bomb was meant for him. But why? Is it because of some event in his past? Perhaps his wartime service undercover behind German lines?

   Information from a well-placed government friend convinces Dennim he is being stalked by a faceless killer who has struck at least three times before and always with impunity. Unwilling to risk the lives of those close to him, Dennim takes to the open fields of the English midlands and sets himself up as a Judas goat while trying to lure his would-be executioner into the open.

   The hunter becomes the hunted as a ruthless murderer bent on revenge stalks his prey. The final confrontation — at night in an abandoned barn on a lonely rise — will leave the reader breathless.

   This is a fine novel in all respects, with a powerful and moving climax.

   Recommended among Household’s other thrillers are Arabesque (1948), A Rough Shoot (1951), and especially Dance of the Dwarfs (1968), which is in the same hunt-and-chase mold as Rogue Male and Watcher in the Shadows.

   Household is also an accomplished writer of short stories of adventure and suspense, some of the best of which can be found in such collections as The Salvation of Pisco Gabar (1940), The Brides of Solomon (1958), and Sabres on the Sand (1966).

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   Reprinted with permission from 1001 Midnights, edited by Bill Pronzini & Marcia Muller and published by The Battered Silicon Dispatch Box, 2007.   Copyright 1986, 2007 by the Pronzini-Muller Family Trust.