The Sentinel by Jeffrey Konvitz


The Sentinel, Jeffrey Konvitz, 1974

My favorite quote: “My dear Miss Parker, aside from the old priest, and now you, no one has lived in that building for three years!”

Notable characters: Alison Parker, the new tenant; Michael, her jackass boyfriend; Charles Chazen, her strange little neighbor (whom I personally adore); Gatz, the detective; Miss Logan, the realtor; Father Halliran, the mysterious priest (who creeps me out super bad)

Most memorable scene: The Sentinel has one scene that really made me go WTF!?!? and that’s the surprise masturbation scene. I mean, who does that? Who just starts going at themselves in the middle of a conversation with a complete stranger? Sandra, that’s who — and if you want to know more about her (and of course I know you do) you’ll just have to read The Sentinel. Jeffrey Konvitz outdid himself with that one. So yeah. That’s first on my list of memorable moments is The Sentinel — hands down. Seriously. Put your hands down, you perv. Jesus … 

Greatest strengths: As good as he is at surprise masturbation scenes, Jeffrey Konvitz is just as good at creating creep. It’s rare that a horror novel actually scares me, but The Sentinel really did 

Standout achievements: Jeffrey Konvitz got The Sentinel published at a time when horror fiction was rising to unprecedented heights — and even so, it manages to stand out from the crowd. I’d even go so far as to say The Sentinel has earned a rightful place right next to Rosemary’s Baby and The Exorcist … neither of which have a surprise masturbation scene to fall back on, by the way

Fun Facts: My collaborator, Tamara Thorne, and I met Jeffrey Konvitz a few years ago and were able to talk to him about this book and its follow-up, The Guardian (which sadly does not have a surprise masturbation scene — but is actually an extremely compelling novel despite that minor flaw). Anyway, Jeffrey Konvitz remains one of the most interesting writers I’ve had the pleasure of knowing

Other media: The 1977 film, The Sentinel, starring Cristina Raines, Ava Gardner, Chris Sarandon, and Burgess Meredith is a (loyal) adaptation of Jeffrey Konvitz’s novel. (It even has the surprise masturbation scene, you guys! And Beverly D’Angelo is the surprise mastubator!) 

What it taught me: So much — but most notably, The Sentinel taught me the power of building intrigue. Jeffrey Konvitz’s novel has it in spades and it’s one of the reasons I wasn’t able to put it down (that and the surprise masturbation scene, of course) 

How it inspired me: Because The Sentinel is one of the books I teethed on, it felt appropriate that I pay it some kind of homage in my own work — and so I did. In my murder mystery, Sleep Savannah Sleep, I named a school teacher Mr. Chazen, after Alison Parker’s strange little neighbor in the Sentinel. The similarities end at the name, but I enjoyed tipping my hat to Jeffrey Konvitz and his creepy little classic

Additional thoughts: Though strange, dated, and perhaps relying a bit too heavily on shock value, this book has that “cozy vintage horror” vibe that always makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside. For that reason, I do overlook a lot of its flaws — but even so, I love it. And I’m not just saying that because Jeffrey Konvitz is an awesome guy. Or because it has a surprise masturbation scene in it. Although that’s definitely a contributing factor … 

Haunt me: alistaircross.com

Read The Sentinel

Published by Alistair Cross

Alistair Cross grew up on horror novels and scary movies, and by the age of eight, began writing his own stories. First published in 2012, he has since co-authored The Cliffhouse Haunting and Mother with Tamara Thorne and is working on several other projects. His debut solo novel, The Crimson Corset, was an Amazon bestseller. The Black Wasp, book 3 in The Vampires of Crimson Cove series is on its way. Find out more about him at: http://alistaircross.com ********************************************************************************************* In collaboration, Thorne and Cross are currently writing several novels, including the next volume in the continuing gothic series, The Ravencrest Saga. Their first novel, The Cliffhouse Haunting, was an immediate bestseller. Together, they hosted the horror-themed radio show Thorne & Cross: Haunted Nights LIVE! which featured such guests as Anne Rice of The Vampire Chronicles, Charlaine Harris of the Southern Vampire Mysteries and basis of the HBO series True Blood, Jeff Lindsay, author of the Dexter novels, Jay Bonansinga of The Walking Dead series, Laurell K. Hamilton of the Anita Blake novels, Peter Atkins, screenwriter of Hellraiser 2, 3, and 4, worldwide bestseller V.C. Andrews, Kim Harrison of the Hollows series, and New York Times best sellers Preston & Child, Christopher Rice, and Christopher Moore. ********************************************************************************************** Currently, Thorne & Cross are hosts of Thorne & Cross: Carnival Macabre, where listeners can discover all manner of demented delights, unearth terrifying treasures, and explore the dark side of the arts.

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