Whisper Down the Lane is a love letter to the horror classics of the 70s and 80s. An alternating story of six-year-old Sean and his single mother together against the world as they try to establish themselves in a new town and a new school in 1983, and Richard, an elementary school art teacher newly married with a stepson with which he is trying to establish a father-son relationship in 2013. Sean tries to keep his mother happy and ends up embroiled in a school wide scandal about a satanic cult, while thirty years in the future Richard is starting the school year trying to make sense of what seems to be a series of escalating grotesque pranks. A psychological horror with just enough gore, Chapman crafts the story with twists and turns that keep you gripped. This book perfectly shows how dangerous groupthink can be and shows the similarities between the mindset that allowed the Satanic Panic to flourish, and the dangerous conspiracy theories that lead to real harm today.— Madi Hill
“A diabolically creepy hybrid of horror and psychological suspense that thrills as much as it unsettles. You’ll keep turning the pages even as your hands shake.”—Riley Sager, New York Times best-selling author of Home Before Dark
A pulse-pounding, true-crime-based horror novel inspired by the McMartin preschool trial and Satanic Panic of the ’80s.
Richard doesn’t have a past. For him, there is only the present: a new marriage, a first chance at fatherhood, and a quiet life as an art teacher in Virginia. Then the body of a ritualistically murdered rabbit appears on his school’s playground, along with a birthday card for him. But Richard hasn’t celebrated his birthday since he was known as Sean . . .
In the 1980s, Sean was five years old when his mother unwittingly led him to tell a lie about his teacher. When school administrators, cops, and therapists questioned him, he told another. And another. And another. Each was more outlandish than the last—and fueled a moral panic that engulfed the nation and destroyed the lives of everyone around him.
Now, thirty years later, someone is here to tell Richard that they know what Sean did. But who would even know that these two are one and the same? Whisper Down the Lane is a tense and compulsively readable exploration of a world primed by paranoia to believe the unbelievable.
About the Author
Clay McLeod Chapman writes novels, comic books, and children's books, as well as for film and TV. He is the author of the horror novels The Remaking and Whisper Down the Lane. Visit him at claymcleodchapman.com.
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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
“Within just a few pages you’ll have gotten enough shocking violence, overwhelming fear and psychological intrigue to keep you hooked for hours.”—BookPage, 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
“This clever, creepy roller-coaster ride is perfect for fans of fast-paced horror with the flavor of true crime.”—Library Journal
“Whisper Down the Lane is a well-crafted thriller with an intricate plot. Chapman writes in an unadorned manner and with a sharp eye toward the underside of American popular culture.”—New York Journal of Books
“Chapman expertly taps into the hysteria of the famed “Satanic Panic,” creating a chilling, psychological thriller that keeps the reader guessing and worrying, wondering what’s real.”—Daily Dead
“Devilishly good. In Whisper Down the Lane, Clay McLeod Chapman has given us a diabolically creepy hybrid of horror and psychological suspense that thrills as much as it unsettles. You’ll keep turning the pages even as your hands shake.”—Riley Sager, New York Times bestselling author of Home Before Dark
“A ruthlessly compelling novel, where two stories close on each other like a claw—a truly diabolical nightmare that daylight can’t dispel—all the more terrifying for what it tells us of ourselves.”—Ramsey Campbell, author of The Wise Friend and The Searching Dead
“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
“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