Whispers In The Night
Whispers in the Night is the latest by Diane Pershing, an author whose writing style I’ve enjoyed in the past. I was looking forward to her new Silhouette Intimate Moments release, but while it is an interesting story, it’s not really all that satisfying.
Kayla Thorne is a former nurse who once cared for the terminally ill wife of a much older man. After his wife passed away, he and Kayla grew closer and they married, despite the fact that he was in his seventies and she was in her twenties. A few years later, her husband died, leaving her a sizable portion of his fortune and a share of his family’s home in the Catskill Mountains. A solitary person by nature, Kayla moves into the house and closes herself off from the rest of the world. The press and one of her stepsons believe that she’s a cold-blooded killer who did whatever it took to get her hands on a fortune. Kayla just wants to be left alone.
When she needs repairs done on the house, the local handyman assigns one of his men to work for her. Paul Fitzgerald is an ex-convict who was recently freed pending a new trial. He was once an Albany police detective, until he was framed for dirty deals and spent four years in prison. Now he’s determined to prove his innocence by confronting the police informant who testified against him: Kayla’s estranged brother Jay. Paul intends to use Kayla to find her brother’s whereabouts, but it doesn’t take long for him to realize that she has nothing to do with her sibling.
He still can’t force himself to leave when it becomes clear Kayla is in danger. Strange things begin to happen at the house. Kayla hears strange noises in the middle of the night. Someone leaves a dead rat on her porch, and then her little dog is attacked. Someone is trying to scare Kayla, but why?
Pershing is a capable writer with a pleasing style. This is a nicely detailed story with a decent amount of atmosphere and a moody setting. I have a fondness for stories about wrongfully imprisoned characters, and Paul is a darker, even more tortured version of this type than usual. He did what he had to in order to survive in prison, and he’s still dealing with a lot of anger boiling beneath the surface. Kayla has plenty of baggage of her own. While heroines who marry (or have been married to) older men are nothing new, I haven’t seen an age difference this big that often before. It was very interesting to read about a character like this, who many people would probably judge harshly if they read about these circumstances in the paper, and see who she is and why she makes the choices she does.
The characters are sympathetic, but not really engaging. While it’s easy to feel bad for the horrific circumstances they’ve endured, they never completely come to life as people. I very much felt like I was reading about fictional characters instead of getting to know them intimately. The story also moves very slowly, particularly the suspense plot, which never builds much momentum. The mysterious “threats” don’t seem very threatening, especially since the characters bounce back from them with ease. Kayla receives a threat, then they go about their everyday business. Then there’s another threat, then they go about their everyday business. And so on. The nature of the threats and what they’re supposed to accomplish are so vague that the story doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. I will say that I didn’t guess who the villain was, not because it was all that surprising though, but because I really wasn’t invested enough to even try.
Whispers in the Night features intriguing characters and a nicely evoked setting, but ultimately, the story didn’t grab me. While it is well-written, it’s also slow and the characters remain a little too remote. It’s an average read, more interesting than many series books I read these days, but I put it down a few too many times for it to be more than that.