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The Sentinel

Novel by Jeffrey Konvitz (USA) 1974.

Allison Parker returns to New York where she works as a model, after four months away burying her father. She rents a new apartment and settles back down to her old life with her lawyer boyfriend. But during the first few days at her new address, she has some frightening experiences - her neighbours all seem to be weird - there's the slightly dotty old man upstairs who holds birthday parties for his cat; there's the two lesbians in 2A who seem determined on a confrontation; and there's the reclusive blind priest who never leaves his apartment and who nobody has ever met. Then there's the news that there are no neighbours, and she must have imagined everything. As her boyfriend tries to help her, she finds herself slipping further into madness and the priest seems to be the centre of it all.

Probably the most important religious horror novel since The Exorcist. This is an unnerving book to read: you get the impression that it's going somewhere but you don't quite know where; but it all ties up neatly in the end. The prose is fascinating: you can safely ignore the blurb on most book covers but this is one of those few books that you really don't want to put down. The characters are never boring, the pace never lets up and the concept, though simple, never ceases to amaze. Don't miss it.

One sequel: The Apocalypse (1978), which you do want to miss. Later filmed by Michael Winner.

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