Review: “Whispers in the Dark,” Laurel Hightower

Rating: 5 out of 5

Laurel Hightower’s Whispers in the Dark is divinely horrifying! Sergeant Rose McFarland is a S.W.A.T. sniper and mother of two young children. She has a lover she’s been friends with for years, and an ex-husband Sam she’s still very friendly with. Sam even knows her secret: when she was a child she used to hear the Whispers, and she saw terrifying things. Her parents largely beat it out of her, until her father and brother died in a fire that started in her locked bedroom. Now she’s looking down her sights at Charlie Akers. Negotiator Zack still hopes to end this standoff peacefully–Charlie kidnapped his own wife and two children–but Rose has a feeling this one won’t end that way. When she’s forced to kill Charlie, her whole world starts to fall apart. She starts seeing things again. Her son Tommy starts having weird “spells.” An FBI agent threatens that if she doesn’t come talk to him by the end of the weekend he’ll ruin her in the investigation into her shooting of Charlie. When she comes back to work on Monday Zack is missing and she’s being accused of having a history with Charlie. Soon the investigation is the least of her worries.

The creepy things that inhabit the dark places definitely got to me. I haven’t felt afraid of the dark in more than 30 years, but it gave me a shudder after I read this book last night! Roughly the first half of the book builds up the characters and the base-level weirdness and fear. After that, things really get hopping!

Rose is an excellent badass character. She’s tough and she knows how to handle herself, but she has her own fears and difficulties. She’s not sure how she feels about her lover, Luke, whom she’s known for more than a decade. She’s also not entirely sure how she feels about Sam, her ex-husband, who still comes over for pancake breakfasts with the kids and flirts shamelessly with her. The story doesn’t take an easy way out of this confusion. Another fascinating character is FBI agent Evan Neal. Is he an enemy? Is he an ally? Is he something else entirely? He doesn’t seem to be strictly on Rose’s side (witness that whole thing about threatening her, which if he’d known her at all he’d know was the exact wrong thing to do). But he knows something about Charlie Akers, and claims they can help each other. He comes across as a bit sly, so you never quite know where you stand with him.

When the story gets into details of Rose’s childhood and family, things get really interesting. Her family has a few secrets they’ve been keeping, and there aren’t a lot of people Rose can ask about them! The threat to her family becomes a much greater threat as tension builds.

This is such a chilling read. Absolutely recommended!

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