The Whisper Manby Published 20 Aug 2019
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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...
The Whisper Man Reviews
The Whisper Man is Alex North’s debut thriller, and what an absolutely riveting read it is!
It’s some twenty years since Frank Carter began a life sentence for the abduction and murder of five little boys. Carter had earned himself the nickname ‘The Whisper Man’ after his sinister method of whispering at the doors and windows of his victims in order to lure them outside. Now though, another little boy has gone missing in similar circumstances, and the peaceful village of Featherbank is once again fearful of what the outcome may be.
Tom Kennedy and his young son Jake are still drowning in grief a year after the death of Tom’s beloved wife Rebecca, but Tom is hoping that a move to the sleepy little village of Featherbank will help them start a new chapter in life. The new house isn’t really what Tom would have chosen, it’s a creepy run down old house but when Jake saw it he wouldn’t look at anything else, he loved it on sight and Tom wanted so much for Jake to be happy. He was having a problem communicating with his son, (Rebecca was always the one that Jake turned to) and he hoped that this move would help bring them closer together.
DI Amanda Beck heads the new investigation into the missing boy, but DI Pete Willis ( the investigator in the original Whisper Man case) is also brought in to help. It’s always been thought that Carter may have had an accomplice and Willis’s intimate knowledge of the original case could be crucial.
Told from the POV of Tom, Jake, DI Amanda Beck, and DI Pete Willis, this is a deftly crafted and compelling thriller, where the author has grasped the importance of pace, (and that), combined with a narrative that wastes not a single word, each word being designed to hook you into the next, ensures that it’s a winner.
‘The Whisper Man’ is most certainly a best seller in waiting, and Alex North should be justifiably proud!
*Thank you to Netgalley and Penguin UK - Michael Joseph for my ARC. I have given an honest unbiased review in exchange *
This is Alex North's crime debut and what a impressive debut it is. It drips with atmosphere, a disturbing story of The Whisper Man, who over 20 years ago kidnapped and murdered 5 local boys in the small town of Featherbank. Frank Carter is the Whisper Man, incarcerated in prison, reveling in his notoriety and reputation, playing mind games with 56 year old DI Pete Willis, the man who caught him. Despite the emotional cost, Pete has persevered through the years, visiting Carter in prison, in the hope of a clue to where the body of victim, young Tony Smith, can be recovered so his grieving parents can at least achieve a small measure of peace. The monster that is Carter and his horrific acts, the creepy whispering outside his victim's bedrooms, have been immortalised in child lore and local nursery rhymes. Everyone thought that time of horror is over, but in the present, the troubled 6 year old youngster, Neil Spencer has gone missing. DI Amanda Beck is heading the desperate hunt to locate him, but there are eerie hints of the original Whisper Man. Did Frank Carter have a unknown accomplice or is this a copycat crime?
A grief burdened author, Tom Kennedy, is fumbling through the wreckage of his life after the devastating sudden death of his beloved wife, Rebecca. It was Rebecca that was the closest to their sensitive 7 year old son, Jake. Tom has struggled to connect with his vulnerable and creative son, a boy with imaginary friends, with an outsider status, unable to fit in with his peers at school, leaving him open to being bullied. Tom, with Jake's agreement, relocates them to Featherbank, with every hope that new beginnings are what they both need to come to terms with the loss of Rebecca and forge a new path. However, it is not that easy, for Tom finds that 'grief is a stew with a thousand ingredients, and not all of them are palatable'. His fractious relationship with Jake, whom he loves absolutely, is a tightrope with Tom hanging on in there by comforting his son that whilst they might fight and argue, his love for Jake is true. In a disturbing narrative, Tom is to find that moving house is to immerse him and Jake in the most twisted of a horror of a nightmare, one that places Jake in the gravest of dangers, where the legend of The Whisper Man grows ever stronger.
Alex North's writing is compulsive, hooking the reader immediately, with its themes of fathers and their challenging relationships with their sons, grief and loss, amidst a background of a child killer running rampant in the town. North's characterisation is stellar, as can be seen with Tom, trying so hard with Jake, making errors of judgement, slowly becoming aware of just how much Jake is like him, eventually beginning to make some inroads by getting some things right with his son. Then there is the odious Norman Collins, a collector of macabre serial killer murderabilia, obsessed with The Whisper Man, whilst there are traits that Tom finds that he shares with DI Pete Willis. A simply fantastic read, with some surprising twists, that will appeal to so many crime fiction fans. Many thanks to Penguin Michael Joseph for an ARC.
Alex North’s debut, The Whisper Man is an outstanding thriller and one of the best crime novels I’ve read this year. In tones similar to Stephen King, he ramps up compelling suspense with tantalising supernatural possibilities.
Alex North structured his novel in a way that is extremely appealing to me, where one character narrates in the first person and the other threads are provided in the third person. This tends to create an opportunity for great story-telling with a personal view to draw you into a particular character. Tom Kennedy is an author and is finding life difficult as he is still reeling from the death of his wife. His young son, Jake, is worryingly detached from other people, every conversation he tries to have with Jake, every attempt to understand his son’s feelings, or express his own pain and loneliness, just get inadvertently twisted to compound the problem. The jarring recognition that the harder you try, the more frustrated you get, and the further away from normality you slip. In an attempt to make a fresh start away from the sad, heart-breaking and irrepressible memories, Tom and Jake move home to the town of Featherbank.
Jake, however, remains in his own bubble, an outsider, and is often seen talking openly to his imaginary friend, even while at school. The imaginary friend has uncanny premonitions when danger and confrontation loom. These are the characteristics that align with the quest of a serial killer known as The Whisper Man.
“If you leave a door half-open, soon you’ll hear the whispers spoken.
If you play outside alone, soon you won’t be going home.
If your window’s left unlatched, you’ll hear him tapping at the glass.
If you’re lonely, sad, and blue, the Whisper Man will come for you.”
Featherbank has a dark sinister past were twenty years ago, the Whisper Man abducted and killed five young boys. All except young Tony Smith have been found and the killer, Frank Carter, was eventually caught by DI Pete Willis and is still serving time in prison.
Pete battles a screaming desire for alcohol and confronts psychological problems regarding the investigation into the Whisper Man. He has always felt that with the unrecovered body of Tony, and events that didn’t align in the case, that there was an accomplice. Now 20 years later DI Amanda Beck is leading an investigation into a missing boy, that has all the hallmarks of The Whisper Man. Pete is brought back into the investigation and they must consider if it's an accomplice resurfacing or a copy-cat killer, and why does Frank Carter appear to have an awareness of what is happening? All these uneasy questions and multiple surprises churn throughout this fascinating plot.
The horror is just about to get real for Tom and Jake as a devilish figure seems to be conversing in whispers with Jake to open the front door. This thriller is tense and edgy with an evil phantom that lurks in dark corners and just outside windows and doors. The Whisper Man is a totally captivating and engrossing thriller, with marvellous characterisations and deep psychological interplay. The ghost-like threat from a killer is wonderfully developed and played at a pace that maintained an impressive plot momentum.
I would highly recommend this book and I’d like to thank Celadon Books and NetGalley for providing me with an ARC copy in return for an honest review.
Creepy vibes with a bit of local folklore.
This book was much more than I expected (in a good way). Stellar writing and plotting with a darkness that slowly creeps its way into the heart of the tale.
Tom is a doting father and after the untimely death of his wife, he wants a new start with his son, Jake. Couldn't a new town bring a new beginning? They both need to heal. He chooses the town of Featherbank. It sounds so comforting and warm. How could he have known?
The house is old. It has a history. Something unnerving...but Jake was entranced.
This was a captivating and creepy tale. There is a mystery, a past crime and investigation, a loving father/son relationship and a bit of a sixth sense feel.
Can you hear the whispers?
Thanks to Celedon/ NG for my review copy. This one is out on 8/20/2019
The Whisper Man by Alex North is a 2019 Celadon Books publication.
Unsettling, spine-tingling, and emotionally charged thriller!
After the untimely death of his wife, Tom Kennedy feels like a fresh start in a new location, might help him and his young son, Jake, move forward from their grief and begin the healing process. But almost immediately after moving to Featherbank, a new set of problems presents themselves. Jake has trouble adjusting to his new school, just as another boy Jake’s age goes missing. The child’s disappearance prompts concerns that another serial killer is on the loose in Featherbank- one with the same MO as the dreaded ‘Whisper Man’ who murdered five people twenty years ago. The case becomes personal for Tom and Jake when Jake begins having nightmares, claiming he can hear someone whispering to him at his window….
Meanwhile, detectives Amanda Beck and Pete Willis are working overtime to find this missing boy before another child disappears…
I’ve been avoiding hyped up thrillers, books that everyone is reading, and mostly gushing over, because my experience with these situations has taught me a few hard lessons- mainly, don’t buy into the hype, because I’m only setting myself up for a big disappointment. But, earlier this year, another book by this same publisher became a huge sleeper hit, and although I was highly skeptical, I caved and checked the book out the library. Well, much to my surprise, the book was very good. So, when ‘The Whisper Man’ started to generate a little buzz, I decided to jump on board the already crowded train, just see if lightning might strike twice… And lo and behold, it did!!
But, to be honest, when one gets right down to the nitty and the gritty, this book is basically another thriller with a serial killer trope. However, what sets it apart from so many other cookie-cutter novels in this category, is the characterizations, and the author’s ability to explore the real psychology behind the character’s actions, without compromising the intensity of the real terror one feels while reading this book. The story is packed with strange, creepy, atmospheric vibes, promising Tom and Jake are being threatened by true evil.
While the mystery is compelling, and the atmosphere is thick and heavy, the author takes a story of horror and dread, and adds in a deeper, more complex angle- a topic that isn’t explored often enough in general fiction, much less in a thriller- the dynamics of the father-son relationship.
The story is very masculine, with the few female characters being suspect, bland, or not very nice-like Jake’s teacher, for example. I never bristled though, because the male leads are portrayed as flawed, burdened, troubled, and vulnerable, and the book never once veered off into an alpha male, testosterone driven story.
From start to finish this is a well written, intense, highly suspenseful thriller- but it is also smart and profound, ending not only with extreme, exhilarating relief, as I released a breath I didn't realize I was holding- 😉, but also on a note of redemptive satisfaction.
Overall, this is another winner for Celadon Books, but as a reader, I’m super excited about Alex North! If this is his debut novel, I wonder how much his talent will develop over time.