In this dark, suspenseful thriller, Alex North weaves a multi-generational tale of a father and son caught in the crosshairs of an investigation to catch a serial killer preying on a small town.
After the sudden death of his wife, Tom Kennedy believes a fresh start will help him and his young son Jake heal. A new beginning, a new house, a new town: Featherbank.
But Featherbank has a dark past. Twenty years ago, a serial killer abducted and murdered five children. Until Frank Carter was finally caught, he was nicknamed ‘The Whisper Man’ for he would lure his victims out by whispering at their windows at night.
Just as Tom and Jake settle into their new home, a young boy vanishes. His disappearance bears an unnerving resemblance to Frank Carter’s crimes, reigniting old rumours that he preyed with an accomplice. Now, detectives Amanda Beck and Pete Willis must find the boy before it is too late, even if that means Pete has to revisit his great foe in prison: The Whisper Man. And then Jake begins acting strangely. He hears a whispering at his window.
This was recommended to me by a work colleague. She said it was spooky and creepy. Boy was she right, particularly the first half. Tom is trying to find rational explanations for the things that seven-year-old son Jake says he sees and hears. The little girl in the blue dress, the grazes on her knee never healing and her dark hair swept to one side. The boy in the floor. The strange rhyme ‘If you leave the door wide open, soon you’ll hear the whispers spoken’ and the whispers themselves. But I found it much scarier to think he was like the boy in The Sixth Sense, ‘I see dead people, walking around like regular people’.
Tom’s wife Rebecca died and Tom is struggling to cope. Jake found her at the bottom of the stairs. It’s a terrible time for both of them, so they decide that a move would be a good idea. New house with no memories, new town and new school. Jake is drawn to an old cottage, known locally as the ‘scary house’. He won’t look at any other house.
But that’s when their problems begin to escalate. Creaking noises upstairs. A run down garage with a padlock on the door. A strange man saying he used to live here and wants to see inside. And Jake’s voices and imaginary friends.
At the same time DI Pete Willis, a recovering alcoholic, and ambitious DS Amanda Beck are looking for a missing boy, six-year-old Neil Spencer. Frank Carter, known by the media as The Whisper Man, is safely locked away in prison for the abduction and murder of five young boys, but there are similarities and why is it that he knows so much about it? And where is the body of Tony Smith, disappeared 20 years ago, Carter’s fifth victim, his body never found? Everything about it is so chilling.
I only have a couple of reservations. Why didn’t Tom get some kind of bereavement counselling, if not for himself then at least for Jake? The boy needs expert help, but no-one seems to suggest it. And then there’s the school. They have this dreadful traffic light system for good behaviour. Green for good, amber for a bit naughty and red for ‘needs to see the head teacher’. They are six and seven for goodness sake! Jake is new, knows no-one and was bullied on his first day (that’s Neil’s seat says a horrid kid so you’ll be the next one to die). Jake has recently lost his mother yet by the end of day one he’s on amber. By day two he’s on red for hitting said kid. It made me furious! Poor Jake. What a stupid school.
This is one of the best crime novels I have read this year – and probably last year as well, if not ever. There are quite a few surprises which I never guessed, but then I wasn’t looking for them. I can’t even hint, but they were not the kind of twists I expected. Brilliant.
About the Author
Alex North was born in Leeds, where he now lives with his wife and son. The Whisper Man was inspired by North’s own little boy, who mentioned one day that he was playing with ‘the boy in the floor’. Alex North is a British crime writer who has previously published under another name.