What is this about: A deceptively simply blurb below hides a complex tale about fathers and their sons, parents and their fears and how we are and are not our parents’ children.
What else is this about?: Creepy, delicious atmosphere. And also emotionally complex relationships.
If you leave a door half-open, soon you’ll hear the whispers spoken…
Still devastated after the loss of his wife, Tom Kennedy and his young son Jake move to the sleepy village of Featherbank, looking for a fresh start.
But Featherbank has a dark past. Fifteen years ago a twisted serial killer abducted and murdered five young boys. Until he was finally caught, the killer was known as ‘The Whisper Man’.
Of course, an old crime need not trouble Tom and Jake as they try to settle in to their new home. Except that now another boy has gone missing. And then Jake begins acting strangely.
He says he hears a whispering at his window…
The blurb for The Whisper Man is absolutely correct and still deceptive in what the book actually holds.
Tom and Jake move to a little village where Tom hopes for not so much a new beginning, but something better for himself and Jake in the wake of his wife’s death — Rebecca.
Jake is a sensitive kid, the kind that you would find drawing in class while everyone else is playing. Tom on the other hand doesn’t quite know how to respond to Jake. It’s as if without the buffer of Rebecca to translate what his little guy says and does, he is adrift. He is quick to irritation and being practical at heart, he doesn’t always ask the questions he should of Jake, and assumes the simplest answer.
That’s not to say he isn’t trying, because he is. But he’s also grieving too. So when he hears Jake talking to someone who isn’t there, he gets irritated that Jake hasn’t grown out of talking to imaginary friends, but in reality, that’s when things get creepy — and where Alex North’s immense talent at creating atmosphere in this book takes off.
At the same time readers are introduced to these two, they are also introduced to the case underlying this book: a missing boy, and his links to a predator, The Whisper Man, from decades before. The detectives on the case are interesting and represent two very different POVs into the case.
Pete, in particular, having caught The Whisper Man before is a controlled man, in a constant battle against the desire to drink. This case ruined him, but that’s not an excuse for his alcoholism and the decisions that led him to be where he is.
Amanda is finding this case to be her Whisper Man case, the one that will consume her and linger with her all the time. She is focused and determined, and she and Pete complement each other well… even more so when North draws the different threads of these characters together.
A young boy who is a prominent character in a book that involves a case about kidnapped young boys… you know what’s coming right?
But, wonderfully, that’s hardly the most important and interesting part of this book. North crafts relationships and characters that are compelling and emotional and an atmosphere that creeped me out because, among other things, I kept questioning is Jake seeing something supernatural? Is there a simpler explanation for it? Perhaps, perhaps not.
My one problem with this book is the desire to push a romance that really didn’t go anywhere, and stuck out in what was otherwise an utterly engrossing read.