The Whisper Man by Alex North

Posted On 24 June 2019

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The WhisperI think the best way to start this review is to state quite simply that I loved The Whisper Man.  It’s really that simple.  It scared me and demanded my full attention and on one particular evening whilst I was reading (or devouring) it I completely lost track of the time and everything else going on around me faded into the background.  I was in my own little reading bubble, and when the bubble finally popped I found myself quite alone. The darkness had set in and I was the last one to bed.  So…., yeah, I had to turn the lights off and like a big girlie wuss I had a serious case of the heebie-jeebies.  This  involved me doing that mad dash thing where you have to switch off the light, run across the room, banging into various pieces of furniture with your big toe along the way, followed by an Olympian style dive onto the bed so that the monster underneath can’t grab you by the ankle, then finally cocooning yourself in your bed covers so that not a single piece of you is exposed and you’re nearly suffocating in the process. That, my friends ,is the effect this book had on me.  Reduced to a quivering scaredy-cat.  Did I mention that I’m a wuss though?

This is a thriller with supernatural elements.  The sort of thing though that can be explained away if you really put your mind to it – I’m not talking vampires and shapeshifters here.  More the hint of things.  Its an impressive debut and the main elements of the story revolve around every parent’s worst nightmare – the abduction of their child.

As the story begins we follow a young boy as he makes his way home alone.  Neil is a lonely boy, not entirely happy and prone to lash out on occasion. Strictly speaking he’s a little young to be making his own way home unaccompanied, but, it’s broad daylight after all.  Unfortunately Neil’s remote path home is being watched and he’s about to pay a terrible price for his solo journey.  Neil is abducted and two months later the police are no further forward in finding him.

Meanwhile, Tom Kennedy is about to move home with his 7 year old son Jake.  Tom’s wife has passed away and the family home holds too many painful memories.  He’s still trying to cope with the loss of his partner whilst also getting to grips with the fact that he’s now responsible for bringing up his son alone.  At the same time Jake desperately misses his mother and suffers nightmares about the day she died.  He seems to have acquired an imaginary friend and sometimes the exchanges between the two don’t seem altogether friendly.  So the two pack up and move to Featherbank.  What a wonderful name for their new home.  It sounds positively welcoming doesn’t it – comforting even – you’d think you’d be able to relax in a town called Featherbank and yet the harsh truth is that around 20 years ago this small town was home to a serial killer who abducted and murdered five young boys.  Known as the Whisper Man, because he lured his victims out at night by whispering through their windows, he has now been caught and imprisoned.  However, this latest abduction has brought back memories from the past, particularly as elements from the original case still remain open and haunt the detective who was in charge of the original investigation.

I think that’s probably enough to give you the general idea of what’s going on here.  Featherbank is haunted by it’s terrible past and still holds secrets, Tom is haunted by the loss of his wife and the guilt he feels about not being a good enough parent to his son and Jake is haunted by his imaginary friend and the memories he’s trying to avoid.  It’s only a matter of time before things start to unravel.  Secrets and lies have a way of coming out – they want to be discovered.

Why did I love this?  It’s just an excellent combination of suspense and fear.  It’s one of those stories that has you holding your breath while you read – or wanting to hold a cushion in front of your face like you do when you’re watching a movie – everybody does that don’t they?  It gets off to a great start, the characters are easy to get along with and there’s this overall sense of menace.

There are a few different POVs which I thought worked really well here, you spend time with Tom, with his son and with two of the detectives and the thing is – all the characters are easy to like.  Tom and Jake are very quirky and are only just starting to form a meaningful father/son relationship, they’re both sad and they’re both holding back their feelings from each other.  The two detectives were also easy to get on with.  One a young ambitious female, keen to learn and desperate to find the missing boy and his abductor before it’s too late and the other a slightly jaded chap who struggles to keep the bottle and his own personal demons at bay.  They make a very interesting bunch to read about and I can genuinely say that I enjoyed all the different voices here.  No groaning or eye rolling here when the POV chapters switched.

The world building.  Well, this is a modern world so there’s no need for extensive world building really.  I liked the easy way that Featherbank is brought to life though and also the cunning way that the author actually makes you realise that you never really know what’s going on behind closed doors.  It’s a bit of a chilling thought which I really wish hadn’t occurred to me – but now it’s in my head so I thought I’d share it with you – you’re welcome.

In terms of criticisms.  Well, I guess there’s a few cliches thrown into the mix – but nothing that was out of control or spoiled my enjoyment.  I think the ending was a little bit sudden – but then I think that’s a feeling I quite often experience so I’m starting to think that’s a ‘me’ issue really, maybe I’m a bit greedy and always want more.

Overall though, I can’t fault this.  It was a gripping read.  There were certain vibes that other readers will no doubt pick up on – can I just say Silence of the Lambs and Sixth Sense – but, at the same time, let me stress that those are really red herrings because this book is nothing like either, more it has whispers of them (see what I did there!)  Do I recommend this – oh yes.  I hope I’ve not oversold the scary factor here – I know die hard fans will probably take this in their stride but I can genuinely say that this scared me and I definitely advise readers to pick it up during daylight hours. And, on the other hand, readers who are easily scared – well, I’m easily scared too and I thought this was just great so I think you will too.

I received a copy through Netgalley, courtesy of the publisher, for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.

Rating : 4.5 stars out of 5.



22 Responses to “The Whisper Man by Alex North”

  1. Mogsy @ BiblioSanctum

    My husband just read this (he likes to take advantage of my ARC pile sometimes) and he enjoyed it, which is a big deal because he’s such a picky reader. Needless to say, I’m so excited to start now, especially with your 4.5 star rating!

    • @lynnsbooks

      This one just really worked out for me – and some of the earlier elements – well, they really scared me. I know I’m a wuss but wow.
      Lynn 😀

  2. bkfrgr

    Ha ha ha! I’m going to read this just because it made you run upstairs and jump into bed!! (I do the whole tuck yourself in so no bits show thing too!) 😀 😀
    Seriously though, this sounds pretty cool. Great review as always. 🙂

    • @lynnsbooks

      It really did – scared the socks off me and I’m glad I’m not the only one who has to get all tucked up when they’re scared 😀 – although I always end up with my feet out of bed eventually, don’t ask me why.
      I hope you get a chance to read it – it just really worked well for me.
      Lynn 😀

  3. Tammy

    This sounds amazing! You’ve totally sold me, and I love the way you opened your review describing how scared you were. What would we do without covers to hide under? Lol.

    • @lynnsbooks

      I know – I’m such a child really, imagine scaring myself like that!
      Lynn 😀

  4. Barb (boxermommyreads)

    Yay! I won a copy of this and now that I saw your review, I’m bumping it up the TBR. Sounds like it will have to be a July read. I also loved your description of running across the room. I can totally relate but in my house, you have to add tripping over the dog! I really wanted to love The Chalk Man when it came out but was in the minority and just didn’t. Sounds like The Whisper Man might live up to my expectations.

    • @lynnsbooks

      I hope you like it – and you won a copy so it must be fate for you to like it! Or maybe I’m just making things up.
      This one scared me – and, yes, tripping over the dog is definitely a part of my everyday life, particularly as my dog likes to sneak up and lie behind me when I’m in the kitchen – is he trying to kill us both or something!
      Lynn 😀

  5. maddalena@spaceandsorcery

    There is nothing more fascinating for me than to observe ordinary people having to face the uncanny, the unexpected and the downright terrifying – it’s the best way, I think, to show one’s characterization skills, and this author looks like one who knows how to handle them. And on the plus side, there is the “fear the darkness” side that never fails to fascinate me because there is such an incredible thrill in having a book scare me… 😉

    • @lynnsbooks

      Definitely fear the darkness if you’re going to pick this one up – it gave me the chills. But, I do love a good scaring.
      Lynn 😀

  6. waytoofantasy

    Well, you have me convinced with your first paragraph–nothing like getting completely lost in a book!

  7. jessicabookworm

    Ooo great post on what sounds like a great book, although as I think I am an even bigger wuss than you (I don’t have to hold the pillow in front of my face anymore because I just don’t watch scary films anymore) then I’m not sure I will ever be brave enough to read it. However I will definitely keep this in mind as a pressie for my dad 🙂

    • @lynnsbooks

      It is really good.Yes, it scared me but I am a bit of a wuss so it might even be okay for you too.
      Lynn 😀

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    I loved this book! Fantastic review!

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