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Richard doesn’t have a past. For him, there is only the present: a new marriage to Tamara, a first chance at fatherhood to her son Elijah, and a quiet but pleasant life as an art teacher at Elijah’s elementary school in Danvers, Virginia. Then the body of a rabbit, ritualistically murdered, appears on the school grounds with a birthday card for Richard tucked beneath it. Richard doesn’t have a birthday—but Sean does . . .
Sean is a five-year-old boy who has just moved to Greenfield, Virginia, with his mother. Like most mothers of the 1980s, she’s worried about bills, childcare, putting food on the table . . . and an encroaching threat to American life that can take the face of anyone: a politician, a friendly neighbor, or even a teacher. When Sean’s school sends a letter to the parents revealing that Sean’s favorite teacher is under investigation, a white lie from Sean lights a fire that engulfs the entire nation—and Sean and his mother are left holding the match.
Now, thirty years later, someone is here to remind Richard that they remember what Sean did. And though Sean doesn’t exist anymore, someone needs to pay the price for his lies.
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"[A] spellbinding psychological thriller...a suspenseful tale of paranoia that will keep readers riveted until the last surprise is sprung.”—Publishers Weekly, starred review
“Creepy and engaging, this is a tale for readers who enjoy true crime like We Believe the Children by Richard Beck (2015), horror like Grady Hendrix's My Best Friend's Exorcism (2016), and intensely disorienting psychological suspense like Fever Dream by Samanta Schweblin (2017).”—Booklist
“In Whisper Down the Lane, Clay McLeod Chapman has gifted readers a novel that is darkly compelling, deeply discomfiting, and achingly human. We squirm as the dread and terror mount, but we can’t stop reading. We’re under the spell of a true storyteller, and bound to follow him wherever he takes us. Prepare to surrender some sleep for this twisting tale of family, memory, identity, and the weight of old sins.”—Shaun Hamill, author of A Cosmology of Monsters
“A beguiling page-turner brimming with dread, Whisper Down the Lane is diabolical fun.”—Rachel Harrison, author of The Return and Cackle
“Whisper Down the Lane is a brilliant nightmare. Chapman will ensnare you in a terrifying web deftly woven with lies, good intentions, childhood fears and local hysteria. From the very first chapter, you’ll be caught.”—Mallory O’Meara, best-selling author of The Lady from the Black Lagoon
“Chapman is a maestro at building grim suspense to the point of unimaginable consequences, proving genuine horror dwells in the world we live in today.”—Mystery and Suspense Magazine