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I do love a good thriller, but a bad one is particularly disappointing. I expected great things from James Patterson, but found the novel I read to be awful. Receiving this new book - ''Whisper in the Dark'' by Robert Gregory Browne - I hoped it would be more successful. I hadn't heard of the author before; he's American and this is his second novel.
The blurb sounded good; the cover was nicely done - it all looked promising. I began to read and was gripped very quickly, but would the rest of it disappoint?
No, it didn't.
The hero of the piece is Detective Frank Blackburn, an American cop with guts, a great commitment to his job, but inclined to be rather tactless at times. Although by no means perfect, he's likeable and admirable and you can see what makes him tick.
A murder is being investigated and a strange, incoherent woman covered in blood is picked up by the police and brought into Baycliff Hospital detention unit. Blackburn hopes she can be urged to talk, as he feels she could have been a witness to the murder.
Unsure of her mental health though (He endearingly refers to her as 'Psycho Bitch'!), he leaves her in the care of Michael Tolan, a famous psychiatrist who Blackburn has used in previous cases. He feels if anyone can get through to the woman, Tolan is his man.
But is he? For today is the anniversary of Tolan's wife's death. The victim of a grisly murder, Abby was Tolan's soulmate. The police investigated it and believed her demise was caused by the notorious serial killer nicknamed Vincent Van Gogh - for his peculiar trait of removing one of the victim's ears.
But things are never straight-forward in the best thrillers and this one weaves many characters and the reader is led down several paths, until our journey loops-the-loop more than a Blackpool rollercoaster. Just as we are becoming convinced we know who murdered who and why, some new information is revealed and our theories are disproved - only for the author to lead us off on a brand new journey.
It is the kind of story where you are constantly kept on your toes. It is often complex with a large amount of regular characters turning up, but it never becomes over-complex that you lose your place. Robert Gregory Browne holds the reader just where he wants them and takes them on an amazing journey.
This novel must have been expertly planned out in advance, as the threads are beautifully interwoven throughout the pages. The chapters are fairly short, but often end with the sort of cliffhanger that means you want to read on. Several times, I have sat down to read 'a couple of chapters' and still been there an hour later!
The book haunted me throughout the time I was reading it too. It kept 'calling' me to it, as I shunned TV programmes I usually follow in favour of cuddling up with my book somewhere quiet.
I really enjoyed the read and feel the book has few faults. It is fast-paced, exciting, involving, fascinating and enjoyable. The characters are well-written, believable and engaging. The story is never dull and cleverly-written. ''Whisper in the Dark'' also has a new element to the usual crime-thriller type books out there too, as there is a supernatural or spooky element to it, with one of the characters apparently somewhat chameleonic.
I loved this book and will have since bought the author's first novel - ''Kiss Her Goodbye'' - and I will look out for his future releases. My favourite thriller writer is currently Minette Walters, but a few more novels like ''Whisper in the Dark'' and Robert Gregory Browne could well be challenging the great Minette!
NOTE - A version of this review by me first appeared on The Bookbag website.