Daphne duMaurier’s Flight of the Falcon (1965)
Penguin, 1969 Virago Modern Classic No. 516

Did you notice that I was complaining about the female characters (and their complete and utter uselessness/sexlessness/vixenishness) in The Birds last week? Oh, I admit, that made me a bit nervous.

I was really wondering if I’d been deceived when I read and enjoyed her Rebecca and Frenchman’s Creek.

I was worrying that having signed up for the Daphne duMaurier Challenge had been a grand mistake.

But, at least on these matters, I could relax: there was no deception, no need for anxiousness.

Not in terms of whether I’d enjoy Daphne duMaurier’s The Flight of the Falcon, anyway.

But there was certainly more than a fair share of deception and anxiety in Armino Fabbio’s story, which begins with his taking a group of English and American tourists through Italy.

And you can add the following to the list of disturbing words in The Flight of the Falcon: phantoms, shadows, murdered woman, hallucination, madness, hidden, regret, crime, torment, claustrophobia, tomb, dread, shaking, grotesque, gasp, blood, dangerous, taut, tense, threatening tremor, disguised, sleepwalker, broke his neck, suspect.

Secret passages —

Image links to Challenge page

“I went to the wall and lifted the concealing tapestry. The doorway was still there, the key within the lock. I turned it, the door opened. Before me was the stair, curving ever upward to the tower above, below me the descent, three hundred steps or more, to the abyss below. How long was it, I wondered, since anyone had climbed this stair? Cobwebs smeared the little leaded window, and dead flies. The old fear, the old fascination gripped me. I put my hand upon the cold stone step, preparatory to climbing.”


“Anyone returning from the past, as I was doing, must remain anonymous. Otherwise it meant useless involvement. Alone, in secret, I could unravel the threads of the past, but not with identity known.”

::cue spooky music::

“This thing is secret. And it’s evil too.”

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::brushes cobwebs from hair::

And that’s all I’m saying. It’s a great choice for the RIP V Challenge and I shan’t interfere with its spooky-ness one bit.

PS The female characters are not models of complexity in this duMaurier novel either, but neither did their characterization detract from my overall enjoyment of the story; their development kept pace with that of the male characters and even if the story felt a little old-fashioned at times, it was a good, old-fashioned creepy tale.

Companion Reads: Lisa St. Aubin de Teran’s edited Elements of Italy, E.M. Forster’s Room with a View, or two short stories — Ethel Wilson’s “Haply the Soul of My Grandmother”, Jane Gardam’s short story “Chinese Funeral” — which offer a glimpse of similarly haunting tours of other regions