Wednesday, 5 February 2020

What I'm reading: Copycat child murderer

Alex North: THE WHISPER MAN


I bought this because it’s a Richard & Judy Book Club selection and cover reviews compare it to Thomas Harris and Alfred Hitch-cock. It’s good but not that good.

Newly widowed Tom Kennedy and his ten-year-old son Jake move into a creepy house in Featherbank (no indic-ation as to what county this is), a town where a serial paedophile killer was active 15 years ago and where a seemingly copycat abduction has just taken place. Young Jake has an “invisible friend” who turns up both in the new home and the school playground. She tells him about “the boy in the floor”, which turns out to be a link to the earlier murders. The detective who caught that killer visits him in prison for clues to the copycat abductor, a rather obvious echo of Hannibal Lektor.

Fathers and Sons is a recurring theme. The detective, the widowed father, the serial killer and the copycat perpetrator all had violent abusive fathers. For me this made the story top-heavy, and the mix of first- and third-person narration is laboured. But the writing strengthens as the plot moves towards its (inevitable) climax. There’s a possible movie in the offing, which will hopefully highlight the book’s spookier elements.