The Whisper Man
13th June 2019
Publisher: Michael Joseph
If you leave the door half open, you will hear the whispers spoken.
Still devastated after the loss of his wife, Tom Kennedy and his young son, Jake move to the sleepy village of Featherbank looking for a fresh start.
But Featherbank has a dark past. Fifteen years ago a twisted serial killer abducted and murdered five young boys. Until he was finally caught, the killer was known as ‘The Whisper Man’.
Of course, an old crime need not trouble Tom and Jake as they try to settle in to their new home. Except that now another young boy has gone missing, stirring up rumours that the original killer was always known to have an accomplice. And then Jake begins acting strangely.
He says he hears a whispering at the window…
The Whisper Man by Alex North is a truly spine-tingling mystery. Some of the accounts narrated in this novel are chilling and downright creepy, and will certainly make sure that you lock your doors and windows at night. North has created an incredible novel with characters that will leave you wanting more; I want to follow Tom and Jake’s story further now. The plot is very well-timed, with a nice slow build, letting the reader develop connections with each of the characters and understand them personally, without letting this hinder the plot. Much of Jake’s personality comes out through the narrative, as his reactions and behaviour towards things allows his mindset to come through.
In order to like Tom, I think you have to make it considerably far into the book. He comes across quite distracted at first and dismissive of his son’s behaviour. I did wonder early on whether Jake was ever given trauma therapy following his mother’s death, which made me question Tom further. Regardless of this, I do end up sympathising with him, but will always have Jake’s best interests in my head, which I’m uncertain he ever fully understands. I liked Pete a lot, often sensing his internal struggle, while respecting Tom throughout. His intentions never needed questioning in my opinion, and Tom’s understandable hostility towards him didn’t come across very well. I do wish there was more of a chance for Pete’s relationships to develop further.
The plot itself is extremely tense. As the reader, I felt the whole time that somebody was watching everything unfold just waiting to creep up on the sidelines when necessary and pounce. I enjoyed Pete’s trips to see Frank Carter, the original ‘whisper man’, and the way the plot was built around Tom’s new house, Jake, but mostly Pete and Frank’s relationship. I definitely believe that Frank’s intention was to continue antagonising Pete for as long as he could. Rebecca was an excellent detective, yet I wished that she drove the plot a little more as the lead detective in the investigation; she was constantly behind compared with the men’s knowledge which was frustrating. I felt that Karen was a strong single motherly character who played her part very well and I was impressed with her gumption.
Overall, this is an excellent tense mystery/thriller novel. I would love to see more from Tom and Jake Kennedy, but I’m not sure how this could be done. Perhaps if North plots more novels around Featherbank, it could work. This book would be great for fans of Ali Land and C.J. Tudor, as it lends itself to the section of this genre which focuses on ‘crimes involving children’ and delves slightly into the psychological impacts of parental death on children. Thank you to Jenny Platt from Michael Joseph for my advance copy of The Whisper Man by Alex North in exchange for my stop on the blog tour.