Review: Whispers of the Dead by Spencer Kope
In Whispers of the Dead by Spencer Kope, a series of bizarre murders―the victims nearly unidentifiable―forces FBI tracker “Steps” Craig to match wits with the most cold-blooded killer he’s ever encountered.
Whispers of the Dead, written by Spencer Kope, follows “Steps” Craig, one of the most well-known trackers for the FBI. He is best known for his ability to solve seemingly impossible cases.
His tracking skill is based on some real tracking techniques but also on a supernatural ability to see what he calls “the shine,” which is a unique visual signature that lets him see anywhere another person has walked or touched.
It is a handy ability for a tracker. This secret ability makes him highly effective, but it also leaves him vulnerable to discovery—really, who would believe such a thing? So he spends a lot of time waiting for evidence to show what he already knows or looking for clues to bolster his argument.
This story blends a good, old-fashioned gruesome murder mystery with a touch of the supernatural, which makes for a fantastic, if somewhat dense, read. This isn’t an “easy” read in the sense that I wasn’t able to power through it. (Which isn’t always a bad thing!)
Instead, I found myself going back to reread passages to make sure I hadn’t missed a vital clue. For example, this section from the prologue, which sets the tone for the entire book.
The man’s panicked eyes dart left and right and his fingers curl and uncurl in jerking fits; nothing else moves, such is the completeness of his bondage.
The chamber feels cavernous and open, its ceiling and walls lost in the murk. Aside from the light and its immediate surroundings, there’s little discernible in the empty dark, just the man, the bench, an ominous black structure that looms over him … and a whisper-quiet shadow that moves about without word or worry.
Creepy, right? I love that the book opens with a peek into the killer’s lair.
Apparently, you should never judge a book by its prologue, as the first chapter shifts into the lighter narrative of “Steps” Craig that readers of Collecting the Dead will recognize. Still, it was a great introduction that kept me reading.
Other sections were light and even a little funny. Chapter 10 describes one of “Steps” and his partner Jimmy’s traditions when driving.
“Bohemian Rhapsody,” to be precise.
Like trained seals, both Jimmy and I instantly break into song. To say that our contribution to the classic Queen ballad is music would be an affront to music, but traditions must be maintained and so we bellow out the words at the top of our lungs.
When we get to the Wayne’s World part of the song, we start bobbing our heads just like in the movie. It is a tradition that goes back to our first assignment.
Sweet, nostalgic memories like this one work well to create likable characters and also provide a much-needed foil for the darker scenes.
For example, when severed feet show up on Tom McAllister’s living room floor.
Overall, the plot is engaging, through the writing veers into clichés a bit too often for my liking. Like any good series book, you don’t need to have read the previous entries to enjoy this one. Readers who enjoy supernatural elements will likely enjoy Whispers of the Dead.