This is a repost of an SF&F SE question, which was considered to not be sci-fi enough for the site.

This was another one of those paperbacks I borrowed from a girl in middle school, around 1992 or so. The main character was a recently divorced woman moving into an apartment. I think that the ex had been abusive in some way and she'd obtained a restraining order. Initially, things go well for her. The neighbors are friendly, particularly a kind of geeky guy nearby her. But after a while, she starts receiving packages from a stalker who claims they're always watching her, someone keeps smashing in her windows with no trace of how, she's got a feeling of extreme dread and the presence of something otherworldly when she visits the laundry room, and she finds the stray kitten she adopted dead, with its eyes clawed out. I remember that she suspected her ex for a while, but something happened that proved to her that it could not have been him.

I do remember a decent amount of the ending:

It turns out that the geeky neighbor is the one stalking her. He'd devised some sort of sonic weapon, which he was using to try to make her scared enough to run to him. The shattered windows were the result of high frequencies and the feeling of an otherworldly presence was the result of subsonics. I want to say that he indicated that the kitten had been a mistake as he hadn't realized what it would do to a creature with more sensitive hearing.

1 Answer 1


After a trip back to the house I grew up in, I spotted a book on the shelf which suddenly struck me as very familiar, A Shadow on the Stair by Gloria Murphy:

Cover of A Shadow on the Stair

Despite its curiously low selling price, Number 8 Garden Place seemed like the perfect new home for recently divorced Hollie Ganz and her two kids, eight-year-old Jake and 14-year-old Allison. Unfortunately, the Ganzes' fresh start suddenly sours when local bad boy Dylan Bradley begins to bother Allison after she refuses to go out with him. Gradually, this punk makes Allison's life unbearable. So when a series of prank phone calls, shattered windows and break-ins besieges Number 8, Hollie assumes Dylan is the culprit. However, with little concrete evidence, the local authorities refuse to intervene. Into this breach of justice steps Woody, a 22-year-old computer nerd who lives with his shut-in mom across the street. At first, Woody's neighborly intrusion into Hollie's life is welcome. But soon the omnipresent Woody develops an obsession with Hollie. When she rejects his advances, he reveals a more sinister side as well as the real reason why Number 8 Garden place was such a bargain in the first place.

I haven't had time to sit down and reread the book, but quickly paging through it, the kitten that had clawed its eyes out shows up in the prologue, and their dog was later driven crazy by sonic noises (killing itself by repeatedly ramming its head into a wall). I found confirmation of the shattered windows, and that Woody had previously worked at broadcasting signals to attract and repel animals, with the intent of figuring out further control.

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    Of course, now I'm wondering if this was indeed a book I borrowed off of my friend, and whether they've been missing it all of these years... Jan 18 at 17:36
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    Moral of the story: don’t trust geeky guys who live nearby. They’ll never return the books they borrow.
    – verbose
    Jan 18 at 19:22
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    ^_^ Incidentally, I got ahold of her. She's fine with me keeping the book. Feb 5 at 4:03
  • *my keeping the book. "Keeping" is a gerund and takes the genitive. :-|
    – verbose
    Feb 5 at 22:28
  • @verbose: Even if "keeping" is the present continuous verb tense? Feb 5 at 22:42

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