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Book DetailsISBN: 9781529124262
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Book Review: The Whispers: The new impossible-to-put-down thriller from the bestselling author by Heidi Perks - Reviewed by Sarah (19 Apr 2021)
The Whispers is an enthralling psychological mystery/suspense read. Heidi Perks explores the dynamics, intricacies and intensities of female friendships, from childhood, through adolescence to motherhood and beyond. The book opens tantalisingly with the discovery on New Year's Day of a woman's body at the bottom of Crayne's Cliff, an area locals know to be prone to landslips. We're not told the victim's identity, but the detective from whose perspective the prologue is told recalls an earlier tragedy, involving a younger woman, and the fact that three weeks ago, a woman called Grace Goodwin had reported a crime... We're then taken back four months, as the narrative works forward to the present day. The point of view shifts between those of Grace Goodwin, Anna Robinson and a Greek chorus-like overview emanating from the observations of other parents in the school playground. Thirty-something mother of one Grace Goodwin has recently returned to her (fictional) childhood hometown of Clearwater, on the UK's south coast, having lived in Australia since late adolesence. Her husband has a high-flying job based in Singapore, so she's effectively a single mother of 8-year-old Matilda much of the time. She's looking forward to re-establishing a close friendship with Anna Fallow (now Robinson), with whom she enjoyed a childhood and teenage friendship akin to sisterhood. However, as the story slowly unfolds, through present day perspectives and occasional flashback sections, we realise that there is a darkness underpinning Grace and Anna's relationship. What is the past event that seems to preoccupy them both in the present day, and why does Anna seem so reticent to rekindle her close friendship with Grace? Heidi Perks skilfully uses foreshadowing, hints at the possible unreliability of the character's recollections, and immerses the reader in each woman's experience. Our sympathies are pulled back and forth as we observe the tensions between the central group of female characters. What loyalties do we owe our friends? Is the length of a friendship necessarily indicative of its strength or health for the protagonists? What can we reasonably expect from our friends, or they of us? At what point do we concede that we have outgrown a friendship and walk away? I found The Whispers a thought-provoking and deliciously suspenseful read. Any female reader will recognise the types of individual and group dynamics Heidi Perks describes, especially those of us who have observed and/or experienced playground (parent) politics ourselves! I would highly recommend The Whispers to any and all readers who enjoy character-based dramas set against a background of mystery and suspense. My thanks to the author Heidi Perks, publisher Penguin Random House UK - Cornerstone - Century imprint, and NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review this title. (Thanks also to Carolyn, whose excellent review prompted me to seek out a last-minute ARC)
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