I’m delighted to be starting the launch celebrations for Inside the Whispers by A J Wains which is published today 20th October 2016. Inside the Whispers is available for purchase here.
I previously read and thoroughly enjoyed another of A J Waines’ books, No Longer Safe, and you can read my review here.
To celebrate today’s publication, I’m reviewing Inside the Whispers, but also I have an extract for you to read too. There is a fabulous UK only Inside the Whispers paperback giveaway running on Goodreads between today and 27th October which you can enter by clicking here.
Inside the Whispers
Where the most dangerous place – is inside your own head…
Following a London Tube disaster, three traumatised survivors turn to clinical psychologist, Dr Samantha Willerby, for help – but she’s mystified when their stories don’t add up. Her confusion turns to horror when one by one, instead of recovering, they start committing suicide.
When her partner, Conrad, begins to suffer the same terrifying flashbacks, Sam is desperate to find out what is causing them and a mysterious and chilling crime begins to unravel.
Then the flashbacks begin for Sam…
The first book in the Dr Samantha Willerby Series, Inside the Whispers is a tense, haunting psychological thriller that will leave your nerves in shreds.
An Extract from Inside the Whispers
I’m ashamed to admit I was running on autopilot for my first patients. I was keen not to miss Jake. At 11.40, I phoned the unit and found out he’d arrived and was still in the consultation room.
Shortly afterwards, I sauntered past the waiting area and spotted him nodding to the receptionist, accepting a small card for his next check-up. He saw me and gave a weak smile. I asked if we could have a private word in my office. I offered him a seat in front of my desk and he sat on his hands looking like a schoolboy hauled up for smoking behind the bike sheds.
‘I know we have another session soon, but I just wanted to check a few details about the fire. I don’t want to ask you anything that might be upsetting, but are you okay to run through a few simple points?’
He looked surprised. ‘Okay…’
‘I’ve been looking at your map,’ I smoothed it out in front of him. ‘And I notice here you’ve marked stairs and here you’ve got the escalators.’
‘Yeah, that’s right – and there are two lifts around here.’
‘When you came off the train and left the platform, were you on a stationary escalator or steps? Can you remember?’
‘Definitely steps,’ he said. ‘I don’t like walking up escalators when they’ve stopped, I always think they’re going to suddenly start up again or go too fast…’
‘But, in the rush to get out, could it be that you didn’t notice you were climbing a static escalator?’
He thought for a second. ‘No – because I went past the escalators, see here?’ he pointed to the map. ‘I saw everyone was crammed onto them and got to the staircase.’
‘Okay…’ My mouth was dry.
‘You said there were flames in the ticket hall – are you absolutely sure about that?’
He responded immediately. ‘God, yeah. I told you, people’s coats were on fire. It was definitely in the hall, because I remember the barriers themselves were burning.’ He started to shake.
‘It’s okay – we’ll stop there. Are you all right?’
He muttered something I couldn’t hear.
‘Let’s take a few minutes.’ I talked him through a simple grounding process to help him re-orientate himself: What day is it? What are you going to do next? Simple questions. He looked confused, but fully recovered by the time he left.
As he shut the door, I plopped down into my chair. I knew now for certain. Jake sounded so genuine and yet his story didn’t make sense. He’d told me he’d climbed up from the Central Line to the ticket hall using the steps. But, there were no steps from the platforms to the ticket hall, coming in from either east or west. I’d checked the area twice and there was access by escalators and lifts, but no steps until you want to leave the ticket hall to reach the mainline concourse.
Another part of his story didn’t add up either. He said people were on fire around him in the ticket hall, whereas the police were emphatic that the flames never got anywhere near there.
I let the silence spill across the room and stared through the seat of the chair where Jake had been sitting. One thing was clear. For some reason, Jake was lying.
My Review of Inside The Whispers
Psychologist Sam’s new boyfriend Con is causing her some concerns, but when her patients display symptoms not covered in their notes, Con’s possessive behaviour is the least of her worries.
What a twisting plot we have in Inside The Whispers. It races along so fast that it is almost breathtaking and I must have changed my mind a dozen times about what was going on and who or what was behind the bizarre behaviour of Sam’s patients.
Essentially, there are two strands to the narrative. The mystery behind the suicides and Sam’s own family and personal life. It is this second strand which I feel will be explored further in future Dr Samantha Willerby stories as it has been set up so well. In Inside the Whispers, the main focus is on the current patients and what has caused the terrifying experiencs they recount as they arrive in Sam’s office.
I felt there was a real depth of understanding behind the narrative and it came as no surprise to me to read at the end that the author A J Waines had worked as a psychotherapist for fifteen years. There are small touches such as professional journal titles that add authenticity to the story. I can’t say too much without spoiling the plot but reading Inside the Whispers has made me want to go off and do some further reading around the psychological elements.
The characterisation is cleverly done as we find out about Con, Mimi et al through Sam’s eyes which gives us a clearer picture of her at the same time. This is the first in the Dr Samantha Willerby series and there is so much scope for development in future books to make a cracking new series.
Without wishing to reveal too much, there are some huge themes explored in Inside the Whispers too. Family and personal relationships, mental health, PTSD, ethical behaviour and friendship are all woven inextricably into the plot and characters. I have a feeling that only reading Inside the Whispers once does it an injustice; that in order really to appreciate the layers and nuances I need to go back to it several times.
I’m sure that Inside the Whispers and future Dr Samantha Willerby books will establish AJ Waines as a ‘go to’ author for psychological narratives. I thoroughly enjoyed it – even if it did mess with my head!
About AJ Waines
AJ Waines has sold over 100,000 books worldwide and topped the UK and Australian Kindle Charts in 2015 with her number one bestseller, Girl on a Train. Following fifteen years as a psychotherapist, she is now a full-time novelist with publishing deals in France, Germany (Penguin Random House) and USA (audiobooks).
In 2015, she was featured in The Wall Street Journal and The Times and was ranked in the Top 20 UK authors on Amazon KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing). She lives in Southampton, UK, with her husband. Visit her website and blog, or follow her on Twitter and Facebook.
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