Unsettling, spooky, and a little gruesome at times. Read with the lights on because the creep factor is real here.
Good to know
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 the town has a dark past. Twenty years ago, a serial killer abducted and murdered five residents. 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 rumors 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...
Why I love it
Author, The Silent Patient
While writing The Silent Patient, I spent a lot of time thinking about what exactly makes characters iconic—and I came to the conclusion that it comes down to a kind of simplicity, clean lines and vivid imagery. And yet, it is so much more than that. There is something that cannot be mathematically manufactured—a kind of alchemy, a murky and mysterious process whereby something comes alive, much in the way Mary Shelley gave Frankenstein’s monster life. Such characters are rare. You could be forgiven for thinking we have seen the best of them—I certainly thought so. There have been so many generic copies of villains such as Hannibal Lecter, or Dracula, and so I approach most thrillers or horrors with justified trepidation.
But The Whisper Man is a triumph. In the title character, Alex North has created a monster who comes alive in your imagination, who lingers in the shadows of your mind even after you’ve closed the book. The Whisper Man tells the story of Featherbank, a small town shaken 20 years ago by a serial killer who whispered outside windows at night, stealing sons and then melting into the darkness. When Tom, a widow, and his son move to the town for a fresh start, that dark time is long over—until another little boy disappears in a similar manner to those taken by The Whisper Man many years ago. As terrifying as this book can be, what makes it extra special is that the horror is counterbalanced by Tom and Jake’s father/son relationship, a connection that is full of heart and accurately observed human emotion.
I should warn you, The Whisper Man has the kind of villain you don’t want to think about too much, particularly at night or when alone in your bed. This book genuinely has one of the most chilling last lines I have ever read. When asked about endings, a famous writer—I think it was Neil Simon—said the curtain should come down at the beginning of the fourth act, with a further series of actions implied and reverberating in the imagination of the audience. And The Whisper Man has that quality—its final line made me shudder and back away from imagining what happened next. In other words, Alex North has created that rare thing, an iconic villain—and something truly scary.