The Whisper Man by Alex North.
Book of the North choice August 2019.
Finished July 12, 2020.
4.07 average star with over 54,000 ratings on GoodReads.
Synopsis from GoodReads:
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 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…
Ah, THE WHISPER MAN. What a delightful horror this book is. The title has many more meanings than just the media name for a serial killer. It’s a name for haunting memories, feelings of guilt that creep in when you’re least expecting, unwelcome thoughts that slip in at the least opportune time, ghosts of the past. Whispers that wreak havoc on your world. That is exactly what happens in this book. Alex North expertly preys on our basic morality, and fears. What I mean by basic morality is this, those of us with a normal moral compass, ex: not sociopaths or psychotic people, have a common agreement that no harm should EVER come to children. It goes against every good fiber in our bodies when a child is in danger or hurting. North successfully exploits that morality in the book and shows is he has no qualms about making his readers very uncomfortable. At the end of the day it’s a book and we can’t help the characters, North will do what he wants with them and we’re just along for the ride.
There are multiple viewpoints in this book. Tom being the main one, followed by Pete, Amanda, Jake, and a few others. When the chapters switch POV it took me a moment to realize who was talking. There is no immediate alert that tells you who is speaking but further along in the chapter you figure it out and you feel silly for not picking it up earlier. Once you meet all the characters it becomes a lot easier to define who’s view you’re reading. North’s writing is very fluid and easy so, it takes no time at all to get his groove. North also does a good job of developing the characters just enough that their angst doesn’t overpower the plot and story he’s trying to tell. Which is, I think, that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Throughout this book there are definite references to the connections of father and son. It is a theme of the book and it is hard to miss. For this, I knew who the predator was before North deemed to tell us. It wasn’t hard to figure out and I doubt anyone who reads it will have any trouble figuring out either.
Normally, a book that is predictable ends up not being a favorite of mine, but North has this way of getting under your skin with the creepiness that it doesn’t even matter. You are completely rooted to the pages of the book with fear. It’s delightful! Another thing that is really enjoyable about this book is the author himself. He is not American and that is really clear in his writing. He uses slang from his part of the world. How many of you Googled a corpse moth? (guilty) I had to text my British friend and ask her what this or that meant. She got a good chuckle at my expense. I am always amazed by people’s creativeness and how they get from an idea to final project. Under the author section in GoodReads it says that North developed this idea for THE WHISPER MAN when his son kept mentioning “the boy in the floor.” First, that is extremely creepy and second, I fully understand the creepiness of this book now LOL. Can you imagine being a parent and hearing those words from your child’s mouth? North definitely would have needed an outlet to deal and explore that feeling. And I am sure glad we reaped the benefits of his creative mind.
Over all this book was a delight and I am so glad I picked it up. I can’t wait to jump into North’s next book, THE SHADOWS. Which is promised to be just as creepy, and honestly, with a standout book like TWM, I don’t think we have any worries about North delivering in his future books.