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The serial killer who terrorized a small British town by kidnapping and murdering five little boys has been locked up for over a decade. So who could have taken 6-year-old Neil Spencer?

"The first forty-eight hours following a disappearance are the most crucial." And yet one of those hours has gone by the time Neil's separated parents realize he never made it from his father's house to his mother's, a short walk he took alone. One of the main investigators of the crime is DI Pete Willis, who cracked a similar case years back and has never quite recovered from it, especially since one of the missing boys was never found. Is there an accomplice still on the loose? As Willis and his colleagues comb the town for clues about the disappearance, a recently widowed novelist and his young son move into what they don't yet know is called "the scary house." Jake is a bright but isolated child who has relied heavily on an imaginary friend and a Packet of Special Things for comfort since he came home from school one day to find his mother's lifeless body at the foot of the stairs. This move is meant to be a much-needed fresh start for the grieving and bewildered father and son, but from the start nothing goes right. On Jake's first day at his new school, the other children draw him into discussion about the missing boy and the Whisper Man who took him. Soon enough, Jake hears whispering too. North's novel pits nasty men submerged in evil against decent men struggling to do good; several father-son pairs reflect the challenges and darker possibilities of this relationship, though plotlines involving female characters are a bit undeveloped.

A terrifying page-turner with the complexities of fatherhood at its core.

Pub Date: Aug. 20th, 2019
ISBN: 978-1-250-31799-5
Page count: 368pp
Publisher: Celadon Books
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15th, 2019