Whispering Wall

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"This striking suspense story of an elderly woman living a dual nightmare delivers a subtle wallop".--SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE. "This Australian psychodrama is not only an excruciatingly exact study in terror but a subtle lesson in the horrendous difficulties of communication".--THE NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW.
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Overview

"This striking suspense story of an elderly woman living a dual nightmare delivers a subtle wallop".--SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE. "This Australian psychodrama is not only an excruciatingly exact study in terror but a subtle lesson in the horrendous difficulties of communication".--THE NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Australian Carlon (The Souvenir) ratchets up the psychological suspense in this story of a victim who is unable to react to a gradually realized threat until pushed to the limit. Sarah Oatland, a well-to-do widow bedridden by a stroke, can't move or speak, but she can see, hear and think. She is tended by her greedy niece-in-law Gwenyth Oatland and a patronizing nurse, Cornelia Bragg. Gwenyth divides Sarah's house into three apartments, renting one to a single mother and her inquisitive 10-year-old daughter, Rose. Valma and Murray Phipps move into the rooms beneath Sarah's bedroom, where a vent in the wall allows her to overhear their conversations. With Sarah, we learn the Phippses plan to murder Valma's stepfather, former singing idol Roderick Palmer, and we experience Sarah's frustration at her helplessness. Rose discovers that Sarah can blink in response to questions; as their communication ends Sarah's isolation, the book subtly loses its claustrophobic tone. But the Phippses realize Sarah knows their plot and determine to kill her, too. With enormous effort, using letter games and Scrabble, Sarah attempts to warn Roderick. From her sure-handed establishing of Sarah's awareness and limitations to the dramatic climax, Carlon proves herself as masterful a wielder of suspense as Patricia Highsmith, Ruth Rendell writing as Barbara Vine, and Margaret Millar. (Oct.)
Library Journal
Jessica Fletcher and Miss Marple have another senior citizen-cum-crime fighter to cheer for: 60-year old Sara Oatland. Incapacitated by a stroke, bedridden Sara can communicate the affirmative and the negative only by blinks of her eyes. Overhearing plans for a murder, she endangers her own life while trying to prevent it. Readers caught up in Sara's struggle will be amazed at her courage and ingenuity. While some will be able to predict the outcome, getting there is a tense, frustrating, action-filled journey. Hurrah for another older woman who has more to think about than denture cleaners or laxatives! Originally published in 1969 in England and serialized in Woman's Day, this novel by the author of The Souvenir will please all suspense lovers.
Library Journal
Jessica Fletcher and Miss Marple have another senior citizen-cum-crime fighter to cheer for: 60-year old Sara Oatland. Incapacitated by a stroke, bedridden Sara can communicate the affirmative and the negative only by blinks of her eyes. Overhearing plans for a murder, she endangers her own life while trying to prevent it. Readers caught up in Sara's struggle will be amazed at her courage and ingenuity. While some will be able to predict the outcome, getting there is a tense, frustrating, action-filled journey. Hurrah for another older woman who has more to think about than denture cleaners or laxatives! Originally published in 1969 in England and serialized in Woman's Day, this novel by the author of The Souvenir will please all suspense lovers.
Kirkus Reviews
Paralyzed by a stroke, Sarah Oatland lies in her bed unable to move or speak or persuade her diffident nurse or her grasping niece Gwenyth that she can understand their prattling. All she can do is listen, observe, and seethe. Sarah's rage turns to agonized frustration when she overhears Murray and Valma Phipps, the new tenants Gwenyth has taken in, plotting to lure Valma's wealthy stepfather, retired actor Roderick Palmer, into the house and kill him. (Murray's matter-of-fact speculations about the range of household objects that could be turned to murderous account gives the threat a macabre edge.) And frustration yields in turn to terror when, just as Palmer's learned, through alert fellow-tenant Rose Abcons, 11, that Sarah can answer yes or no to his idle questions, the Phippses discover that she knows about their plans, and that she'll be a danger to them as long as there's any chance of her recovery. So the peril to Palmer becomes a peril as well to Sarah, who struggles to communicate to Palmer, to Rose, to anyone that the menace is creeping softly closer. . . .

American readers will be reminded of the 1948 film Sorry, Wrong Number. But in this masterfully suspenseful 1969 Australian original, Carlon (The Souvenir) excels her melodramatic original in realism, psychological acuity, and a diabolical sense of homely detail.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781569471111
  • Publisher: Soho Press, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 1/28/1998
  • Pages: 205
  • Product dimensions: 5.04 (w) x 7.49 (h) x 0.63 (d)

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