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  • Writer's pictureHabranthus

The Intruder

Updated: Sep 7, 2023


Hellen Fowler


1952

William Morrow and Company


248 pages of fairly light reading.



Overview

A suspenseful post-WW2 novel traversing a small-town weekend with an unexpected visitor.







Summary

The novel centers around Paul, a former soldier who has been in and out of a mental institution since his return from the war where he was in a Japanese prison camp. He is allowed a weekend to travel alone and uses the time to visit the family of his friend, Adrian, who was a war doctor and died in the same prison camp. Before his death, Adrian had received a letter from his wife confessing to an affair, though she had already broken it off and was remorseful. Paul’s motive in visiting the family is to fulfill what he perceives as the wish of his dead friend: to kill his children before having the other man as their father.

Paul is very well received by Adrian’s family, even though it is painful and provokes a disturbance, not only in the household, but also with various neighbors in the small town. Paul is polite, honest and direct, and he and the family take an instant mutual liking of one another. They understand that he has been, and is still somewhat, mentally ill and treat him with compassion. His effect on the family, though painful, is positive as they are forced to address their own personal issues surrounding the death of their loved one and their current lives. Though Paul is sincere in his affection for the family, he continues in his plan to kill the children and manages to set up a secret meeting with them.


I won’t divulge if Paul succeeds in his intentions or not, in case you want to read the book.


Review

The novel is well-written, and the story is revealed in a way that is engaging and somewhat suspenseful. The author moves smoothly from character to character, revealing the private thoughts and feelings of each. The story includes plenty of sub drama from the eldest daughter and also two neighbors, all of whom are affected by encounters with Paul.

It’s an easy, entertaining read with only occasional bogging down from lengthy passages.



To the Author's Credit

She has a knack for understanding people’s behavior and uncovering true motives. It’s almost enough to provoke the reader into examining their own conduct.


To the Author's Discredit

Occasionally she indulges too much into the private thinking of a character and it feels like unnecessary rambling.



Best Line:

What an endless overexertion her life had become.


Honorable Mention

…that beautiful surroundings, wealth, a car, servants, luxurious clothes were a kind of cast-iron protection against unhappiness of any kind.


Interesting Side Note

Other novels with the same title:


The Intruder by John Rowe Townsend, 1969

The Intruder by Peter Blauner, 1996

The Intruder by Melinda Metz, 1999

The Intruder by Kyra J. Cross, 2009

The Intruder by P.S. Hogan, 2014

The Intruder by Jeffery Deaver, 2021


Note to self: Do a quick internet search before naming my next novel.





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