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The Whisper Man by Alex North #BookReview

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 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…

The Whisper Man by Alex North book cover

Title: The Whisper Man | Author: Alex North | Publisher: Penguin | Pub. Date: 13 June 2019 | Pages: 400 | ISBN: 9780241367490 | Genre: Horror | Language: English | Triggers: Child abduction, child murder | Rating: 4 out of 5 | Source: NetGalley

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The Whisper Man Review

‘The Whisper Man’ is being marketed as a crime novel (because every book that even remotely hints of crime is at the moment), but really it’s horror. It feels like author Alex North’s primary intention is to creep the reader the hell out, and manages it in the book time and time again. Throw in some pretty significant supernatural elements and you’ve got something much more like Stephen King than James Paterson. In my book, that can only be a good thing, as the crime fiction market is frankly bloated at the moment. ‘The Whisper Man’ is refreshingly different. It’s creatively and memorably chilling, with convincing characters and some excellent set pieces.

The plot is quite intricately structured, but essentially straightforward. A widowed author Tom and his young son Alex move to a small town where a serial killer murdered five boys two decades previously. Another child has just gone missing, and detective Pete, who investigated the original crimes, is desperate to find him.  As the story develops, hidden connections between past and present events and characters are revealed and tensions build to a gripping climax.

The book relies on coincidences a little more than I’d like, and North uses “lots of short chapters that end with a revelation” method of keeping the reader interested. It’s a technique that works, but once you spot it, it’s hard not to feel a little manipulated. Those are minor quibbles though, and certainly ones that are forgivable in a first novel. When ‘The Whisper Man’ is good, it’s bloody great. It’s arguably not hard to make a book about child murder disturbing, but North impresses by doing this with subtle details rather than gratuitous ones. One scene in particular, with a mysterious figure whispering to a child through a letter box and worming his fingers through it, is really haunting.

The book plays effectively on two common parental fears: the dread of losing a child, and the sense that you never really know what your children are thinking. Much of the tension and mystery in the book revolves around things the son, Alex, may or may not have seen. As an unreliable witness he is both convincing and well-handled plot device.

For a first novel, ‘The Whisper Man’ is quite an achievement. It’s believable, unsettling and gripping from first page to last. If you’re feeling brave, give it a try.

You can find this book at many retailers via clicking on the appropriate link on Goodreads (Buying direct from retailers is a good way to support indie authors); however, in the spirit of supporting literacy programs, we would like to point out that you may be able to purchase this book through BetterWorldBooks.

Published inHorror Book ReviewsStarred Reviews


  1. Olga Nunez Miret

    Thanks, Olly. Great review. I have a copy of this book and you’ve pushed it up my list.

    • Olly_C

      Hope you enjoy it as much as I did, Olga

  2. Stormi D Johnson

    This sounds like something I would enjoy! Great review!

    • Olly_C

      It’s well worth a read!

  3. Really enjoyed this one as well!

    • Olly_C

      Excellent. I can’t wait to see what he does next

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