*Disclaimer* I was given a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.
It wasn’t much, that bare inch of scalp sticking up beyond the protective concrete wall Charlie Akers crouched behind. Wispy blond stands ruffled in the light breeze, giving away just enough of his location location for me to center him in my scope. He probably wasn’t aware that any part of him was visible at all, but an inch was plenty for me. One shot and I could take the cap of his skull off, scatter his brains across the bricks behind him, and end this standoff. The index finger of my right hand was light on the trigger, my shoulder braced for the recoil. I let myself picture it, indulge the fantasy. Anything to take my mind off the way my knee had begin to cramp.
It never mattered what position I took up at the start of one of these damned things, it always got uncomfortable. Usually I can risk moving, take a moment to shift my leg and ease the screaming joint, but not now. We were in the magic hour, the decisive time at the end of a standoff that would decide who was going to walk away whole. I didn’t think it would be Akers.
Rose McFarland is a killer. Her job as a sniper means she knows to how to stay focused and do what needs to be done, no matter how difficult, but her latest bullet has got her rattled. An FBI agent shows up eager to speak to her, knowing a little too much about her past that she would like to have kept in the shadows, and now her son is showing signs of seeing the same terrifying things she saw when she was a kid. As she looks for answers, more questions show up, unraveling the mystery of her past and casting the person she thought she was into doubt. Can Rose protect her family and herself while confronting the darkness she was born to confront?
On a more shallow note, we all judge a book by it’s cover, that’s why they have covers in the first place. I was immediately intrigued by the cover of Whispers in the Dark is bright, eye catching and but it has a darkness about it that reflects the interior of the plot and the main protagonist Rose. And that fire! I’ll read anything on fire.
Now, onto the story, and what a story it is. The plot itself is a paranormal mystery horror that gives you the chills, sparks your curiosity, and one that you won’t guess the twist to trust me. You’re thrown right into the action as the protagonist has her sniper rifle trained on a disturbed and dangerous man and that’s just the first page. You’re taken on a journey with Rose learning about her heartbreaking past and the darkness that has always followed her. The creeping dread that you can feel coming from the first chapter like a far off tidal wave never lets up, it’s well paced, and the pay off is well worth the read.
As for the protagonist of Rose, it’s refreshing to have a woman like Rose written by another woman. Generally stoic sexually active women like her swing wildly from frozen bitch to sex bunny damsel in distress and I’m so glad that’s not the case here. Rose has had a terrible childhood and worked hard to get to where she is. She trusts her own instincts, she’s defensive to most apart from those she truly loves, she asks for help when she needs it, but with her skills she rarely needs it. She’s multi-faceted and never once is her cup sized mentioned! Amazing. Rose has led a complicated and messy life, much like the rest of us – she’s got an ex-husband, a dead husband, a child with each of them and a good friends who she occasionally shares her bed with, so if you’re worried the plot will run too thin on these whispers, you have nothing to worry about. Hightower handles all of these aspects and sub plot points deftly and with grace, never losing the real stakes of the story, but giving the reader time to breath between the terror.
I can’t recommend this book enough. I’ve always been ever so slightly bored by police procedurals and cop stories, though I’m aware that a story with no police involvement would also irk me, but Hightower gets the balance just right. The prose is well written, thought out and I’ve actually taken down a few paragraphs for later review so I can practice her approach in my own writing. I can only dream that my debut novel will be as well written as this (it won’t, but I can dream) and I highly anticipate what’s next for this author.
About the Author –
Whisper in the Dark is the debut horror novel of Laurel Hightower, a paralegal by day and a writer by night. She is a fan of real life ghost stories and a good horror movie and currently lives with her husband, son, and two rescue animals.
Links to Buy and Review-
Whose your favourite great female character written by a woman? Has your judgment of the cover of a book ever been completely wrong? How do you feel about paranormal/ghosts in suburban settings?