The Whisper Man by Alex North #BookReview #BlogTour

If you leave a door half-open, soon you’ll 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 much-needed 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 boy has gone missing. And then Jake begins acting strangely.

He says he hears a whispering at his window . . .

I'm thrilled to be hosting the blog tour for The Whisper Man by Alex North today. Many thank to the author and to Jenny Platt from Michael Joseph for inviting me and for my advance copy of the novel.

'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.'
Children's rhymes can be really creepy, especially when they reference killers, from the fictional 'one, two, Freddy's coming for you' to the real-life inspired 'Lizzie Borden took an axe' and there's a particularly chilling example in The Whisper Man. You might prefer to read this unnerving psychological thriller in the day time  - with all the doors shut and locked...
The book opens with an unsettling apology from a father to his son before switching to the abduction of a little boy. It's a frightening enough crime at any time but becomes even more troubling when evidence comes to light which links this current case to events of fifteen years ago when a serial killer terrorised the village of Featherbank, kidnapping and murdering five young boys. This new investigation is not DI Pete Willis' case but he can't help but become involved despite it stirring up some painful emotions. He was responsible for the capture of Frank Carter, the man who became known as 'The Whisper Man' and is the only visitor the killer will accept in prison. Despite finding the visits deeply traumatic, Pete continues to attend; until recently he was hoping Carter would finally divulge information about the whereabouts of the last missing boy but now there is a far more pressing reason to question the deranged murderer. Just what does he know about the taking of Neil Spencer and did the Whisper Man have an accomplice?
Meanwhile, Tom Kennedy and his young son, Jake have moved to a new home for a fresh start following the tragic death of his wife, Rebecca. Unfortunately, they have chosen to move to Featherbank and if Jake's conversations with an imaginary little girl aren't worrying enough, he now starts claiming to hear from somebody who sounds far more malevolent. The book switches between Tom's first-person narrative and the third person perspectives of various other characters, including Jake, Pete Willis and the killer himself. Hearing his inner voice and knowing what he has planned adds a terrible sense of foreboding to the proceedings and although I couldn't put this gripping book down, I read on with a rapidly increasing feeling of dread for what was to come.
During the course of the novel, Pete forms a tragic bond with the officer in charge of the current case, DI Amanda Beck, with the pair linked by the two investigations. He struggles throughout with his alcohol addiction, his inner voice constantly taunts him and tempts him to open the bottle. I know that some people consider the flawed, damaged detective to be a cliché but given what we learn about his history with the Whisper Man and the horrific discovery he made, it would be far less believable if he hadn't been irrevocably affected by what he'd seen. His failings are what make him human and explain the intense guilt he carries with him. Amanda Beck's responsibilities exert a heavy toll on her too and as the book progresses, she realises that like Pete, she can't be impervious to the horrors she bears witness to and recognises that there will be some investigations which will always remain a part of her.
The Whisper Man is much more than a terrifying thriller, however, it is also a multilayered story which is as much about father and son relationships as it is about the hunt for a serial killer. At the heart of the novel is the story of Tom and Jake who are trying to adjust to life without Rebecca. They clearly love each other deeply and yet they are both troubled, each tormented by their inner thoughts and belief that they are not enough. As a portrait of a relationship in crisis, The Whisper Man is absolutely compelling; from Jake's Packet of Special Things to Tom's heartbreaking words to his dead wife when he confesses how hard he is finding everything without her, they are both lost and need to reconnect now, more than ever. Tom also has unresolved issues regarding his fractured relationship with his own, estranged father and understandably fears he may fail his son, as he was let down before.
Alex North's book is an outstanding achievement, both in terms of being a dark and utterly spine-chilling thriller and as an absorbing, poignant exploration of grief and love. The Whisper Man is quite simply brilliant, beautiful writing and I cannot recommend it highly enough.

The Whisper Man will be published by Michael Joseph on 13th June 2019 and can be pre-ordered here.

Don't miss the rest of the blog tour, details are below.

About the Author
Alex North was born in Leeds, where he now lives with his wife and son. He studied Philosophy at Leeds University, and prior to becoming a writer he worked there in their sociology department.