2022 Reviews · contemporary fiction · crime · new release · suspense · thriller

New Release Book Review: The Whispering by Veronica Lando

Title: The Whispering

Author: Veronica Lando

Published: July 6th 2022

Publisher: Harper Collins – AU

Pages: 368

Genres:  Fiction, Crime, Thriller, Suspense

RRP: $32.99

Rating: 4.5 stars

The whispering wild will take your child if you dare to look away …

The stunning Aussie crime debut from the winner of the 2021 Banjo Prize for Fiction.

Callum Haffenden swore he’d never return to Granite Creek. But, thirty years after a life-shattering accident, he’s thrust back into the clutches of Far North Queensland and a local legend he worked hard to forget.

When a man goes missing in the rainforest, the past begins to resurface, breathing new life into memories of previous tragedies – two girls lost, seventeen years apart. In a town where it’s easiest to turn a blind eye, the guilt runs deep and everyone in Granite Creek has something to hide.

In his search for answers, Callum fights to keep his feet firmly on the trail as he battles the deafening call of the rainforest burrowing into his ears. After all, everyone knows that the worst things in the rainforest are those unseen.

Review:

‘There’s nothing to it. The whispering is folklore. A legend that kids say to frighten each other, or cruel parents tell to keep their children from falling to their deaths.’

With a gold seal winner badge on the alluring front cover of The Whispering by Veronica Lando, this 2021 Banjo Prize recipient immediately caught my eye. A quintessential Aussie crime noir, The Whispering is a tale of the past, secrets, homecoming, tragedy and conjecture. It was a thrilling slice of local crime fiction.

The Whispering sees the return of a former local resident named Callum Haffenden, who comes back to his old home town of Granite Creek in the wake of a tragic mystery. This devastating new case reignites old memories for Callum. Three decades ago Callum was tragically touched by a terrible accident. As Callum tries to bury the past and the pain that accompanies his previous life in Granite Creek, memories continue to bubble to the surface. As old tragedies are reawakened, suspicions are yet again raised in the local community. Callum makes it his priority and mission to finally expose the truth. But Callum underestimates the power and grip of the rainforest. Will Callum find the answers he needs?

A new entry into the Australian crime noir genre, The Whispering is a masterful debut from Townsville based author Veronica Lando. This one seemed to have a firm grip on me from the start to the finish. I highly recommend picking this debut novel up if you are open to Australian crime thriller novels.

With a vividly portrayed atmosphere, that pervades every moment of the book, The Whispering is a deeply situational text. I’m not very familiar with the tropical rainforest area depicted in this book, but thanks to the author’s descriptive prose, I could imagine this setting incredibly well. As my mind and imagination went into overdrive, so did my sense of unease. The location base of The Whispering is steeped in suspicion, tension, fretfulness, turmoil and anxiety. The setting seems to go hand in hand with the narrative, making The Whispering a top notch read. I certainly enjoyed the stirring tension that pervades this novel.

Lando’s lead is an excellent character and I gravitated towards this figure from the early moments of the novel, right through to the dramatic close. A man with an inherent drive to get to the truth, I greatly admired Callum’s tough resolve. I also found Callum’s past history in regards to his family and acquaintances interesting to uncover. The folk of Granite Creek are a fantastic conglomeration and I saw them as a very solid representation of a community feeling the impact of such long standing tragedy. Lando interrogates this aspect of her novel at all points, making the community tension aspect a true highlight of this novel.

The mystery element in The Whispering is a slow burn which worked well in my eyes. The pace is set to a constant beat with some great acceleration towards the end of the novel as the book winds to its highly anticipated conclusion. Tying into some underlying themes around rumour, gossip, reporting, folklore, policing, regret and disability makes Veronica Lando’s debut a liberal slice of Australian crime fiction. The Whispering will ensure you keep your eyes open for the duration, it’s an all consuming read!

Any praise you see or hear about The Whispering is warranted, congratulations to Veronica Lando on a noteworthy debut.

The Whispering by Veronica Lando was published on 6th July 2022 by HarperCollins – AU. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.

To learn more about the author of The Whispering, Veronica Lando, visit here.

*Thanks extended to HarperCollins Books Australia for providing a free copy of this book for review purposes.

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