Life is brimming with bad people and equally bad situations and it is a parent’s job to protect his child from the unknown danger that lurks even in the safest of places. This is the premise of “The Whisper Man” by Alex North, a story about a father and his son picking up the pieces and starting life anew from a tragic loss that came to pass their lives. Tom Kennedy, emotionally burdened by the loss of his wife had been struggling with the difficulty of raising his seven-year-old son, Jake. Scarred by childhood memories, Tom does his best to be a doting father to his son, urging himself on until he could break the unseen barrier in their relationship. Jake keeps mostly to himself, socially withdrawn from the world but emotionally intelligent for his age. Despite Tom’s efforts, he finds it hard to fill in the hole that Jake had reserved only for his mother. His son’s creation of an imaginary friend–his dependence and need for it– frustrates Tom’s desire for normalcy. With the prospect of moving into a new home in Featherbank, Tom seeks to repair their lives. Prepared to turn a new leaf, Tom and Jake were ushered into the maddening truth of what transpired twenty years ago — the abduction and murder of five children and the arrest of a known serial killer, Frank Carter, referred to as “The Whisper Man”. As Tom bridges his relationship with his son, he finds himself reconnecting to a past he had wanted so much to forget. It all began when a shred of evidence connected to the Whisper Man was found in the strange house they now call home.
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…
POINT OF VIEW, WRITING STYLE & ATMOSPHERE
North’s writing made use of alternate Point of View (POV), shifting from a first POV for Tom’s character to a third person POV for Jake, Pete Willis, Francis Carter, and Amanda Beck. The multiple narratives were written seamlessly providing the readers with much exhilarating anticipation for what’s to come next.
The imagery depicted in North’s writing is palpable. His writing style made use of a combination of simple and elaborate words, using short sentences and fragments. His narrative is filled with visual imagery despite being an easy-read novel.
North’s descriptive language, fused with Gothic elements such as the strange house, dark hallways, supernatural element (Jake’s imaginary friend), nightmares, whispers in the night, and death, set the novel’s dark and creepy atmosphere.
- Father and son relationship
- Reverberations of Trauma
I have tons of sentiments about this book that I couldn’t quite place eloquently. This novel created a huge buzz for some time, scoring a film adaptation deal optioned by brothers Anthony and Joe Russo, and has made it to the final cut of Goodreads Best Mystery and Thriller category for 2019. So far things have been going well for Alex North’s “The Whisper Man”, but the thing about most hyped novels is that once the expectations have been set on high, it conditions the readers to expect so much more. On the contrary, this novel didn’t just live up to my expectations; this one touched my heart and soul. It broke pieces of me here and there, feeling the exact same solace running through the vein of every character. There is so much more to this novel than the usual whodunit plot. North’s take on a mystery crime novel was not singled in on its plot as most books in the same genre have traversed. This novel is much a character-driven plot as it is simply plot-driven.
But the most remarkable aspect of this novel was how the author delved not just into the relationship between Tom and Jake but of Pete and Tom’s, and Frank and Francis’ relationship. The readers are presented with three differing kinship sculptured by character, social interventions, and tragedies. North has reminded us of the repercussions of domestic violence, divorce, and in this case, the disturbing relationship between a serial killer and his son; the latter individualized by childhood trauma could very well have inherited his father’s psychotic traits. But North points out how individual choices can change the course of a person’s path. Tom’s memories of his father’s drunkenness and indifference prompted him to aspire to a better version of himself. Francis Carter’s darker past attuned him to reverse the implications of what his father had done. He had morphed into becoming virtuous by kidnapping neglected children, to guide and nurture. But due to his apparent inheritance of his father’s deranged traits, Francis’ agitated temper and disagreement to lack of obedience, made him do things his father had done all those years ago. The difference between Tom’s character and Francis’ sits on their individual choices. Even though both were altered by their dismal past, Tom did his best to be a father to his son, while Francis remained haunted by the horrors of his father’s perversion no matter how hard he tried to escape from it.
END OF SPOILER !!!
“The Whisper Man” did not delve much on the aspect of gore and police procedures as expected of a noir novel. Despite its predictability, this book is a page-turner, a true class of its own. North gave us a moving narrative of a father’s love for his son despite his imperfections and limitations. The heart of this novel is not the conclusion to the murders that happened in Featherbank, but how North came up with such compelling characters that are truly mesmerizing and unforgettable.