Friday’s Forgotten Books: Whispers in the Dark by Laurel Hightower

Rose McFarland has a troubled past. A fire that left her scarred claimed the lives of her abusive father and loving brother. Her mother shunned her, blaming Rose for the deaths of the men in the family.

It didn’t come as much of a surprise. Rose’s mother had turned her back on her only daughter for years as Rose was locked in the cellar with the whispers and the ghosts, or locked in her room. Rose’s brother was the only one who showed her any kindness while their parents routinely denied Rose food and love.

After a prolonged recovery from her wounds, Rose worked hard to distance herself from her past as much as possible. She’s worked her way up to the role of sniper for the sheriff’s department and is on the verge of a promotion. She hasn’t even heard the whispers or seen ghosts in years.

That all changes when a hostage situation forces her to kill a man who had abducted his family and murdered the mother of his children. Team members report hearing strange things, and they aren’t alone, although Rose will never admit it.

When a stranger who claims to be from the FBI approaches her after the shooting, Rose is put on guard. She finds out later he’s been asking her colleagues about her. Her initial plan was to ignore him, but she decides that she may have to speak with him to find out what his agenda is. He seems to be threatening her job, and suggests there are things about the shooting that she doesn’t know.

Before she can speak to the FBI agent her life spirals out of control. Her four-year-old son, Tommy, is seeing things that most people can’t explain, but that Rose knows all too well. As his health is threatened, Rose is left scrambling to put the pieces together to figure out how to save her son’s life, and see if she can stop the whispers once and for all.

This is a riveting story that keeps you on the edge of your seat. Things fly at Rose hard and fast, and she struggles with her personal truths and past as well as her present realities. She doesn’t mourn her parents or lament the relationship she never had with them. Instead, she prioritizes her own children and the people she has chosen to have as part of her family. Part of her does feel guilt about her brother’s death, and she grieves the loss of her second husband. As events unfold she is forced to confront foes that are both dead and living, but has both living and deceased allies as well to help her along. When her son gets ill her fear as a parent is all too real. Hightower does an exceptional job of drawing the reader into Rose’s world and the gripping story doesn’t let up until the very end. There are plenty of surprises along the way, and as much as Rose’s story becomes a race against time to save the people she loves, it also becomes a journey of personal healing and growth as she finally comes to terms with what happened to her years before. 

I highly recommend this novel.