Monday, February 10, 2020

The Whisper Man - Alex North

Summary: 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... (Summary and pic from goodreads.com)

My Review: It is a well-established fact on this blog that I like murder. I do. We all know I’m not alone, and we’re all fine with it. Crime and mystery has been one of my long-time faves in books, TV, and podcasts. (I almost said visual entertainment, but that seemed a little too creepy. I don’t watch murder. Not real murder. You get me, right?)

One of the genres I have really started to like of late is surreal fiction, or even magical realism. I’m reading a lot more and watching a lot more of that lately. I like mysterious, unexplainable things. I secretly wish I could still hang out with Mulder and Scully in new episodes (although I do own all the current ones, of course). I’m just really into that kind of thing right now. This book promised to deliver both, which was exciting! All of my creepiness in one place! Yassss!!!

This book definitely has a creepy story. Any time there’s a serial killer involved it’s creepy, and when there are kids involved, it takes it up an even higher notch. This had both. I don’t naturally gravitate towards crime novels involving children because now that I have kids I’m pretty wimpy about that, but it is what it is. But I was interested in the surrealism of this book. I liked that it had multiple stories going on at once, but it wasn’t difficult to keep track of what was going on (which can often be a complaint of mine when there are multiple stories—I had better be able to tell whose story is what and when it’s happening). I enjoy reading about multiple characters on a level that is more personal, which I think can sometimes be achieved by alternative views, and I think this book did a good job of that. However, I also enjoyed that there was a connection in the stories. I’ll stop there, because while that connection is not a hidden secret for a really long time, it was a surprise and I enjoyed it. I think that connections sometimes up the ante, per se, and I like that in a good story. It seems more like real life. Everything being connected and relying on each other in story and in what is happening makes for more compelling reading.

The mystery itself was a little confusing. I’m not sure, exactly, how it was ever solved. I mean, it’s solved, but the actual key part of it (related to the title) was never satisfactorily solved for me. It was sort of just glossed over. There was another surreal part of this mystery that was glossed over as well, but that one made more sense than what was happening with the serial killer. I’m being vague here, I know, but I don’t want to spoil the story. I do, however, want to point out that I think some of this confusion could have been dealt with. I am one of those people who likes to have all the loose ends tied up, although I know it doesn’t always happen nor is it essential. I did feel like this particular time it was essential, however. I want to know why he gets the name he does. Point blank. LMK if you know.

Although a fun and fast-paced read, there were some weaknesses. I see that this is North’s first novel, and I think that some of this confusion and looseness in the story can be attributed to that. Don’t let this deter you, though. There are some really creative and interesting ideas in this book, and if you’re into this genre (especially creepy cross-overs) then you should check it out. I look forward to seeing what else he does.

My Rating: 3.5 Stars

For the sensitive reader: As with many crime books, there is language and violence. However, I would say this is on the lighter side compared.

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