cover image The Whispering Dead

The Whispering Dead

Darcy Coates. Poisoned Pen, $14.99 trade paper (272p) ISBN 978-1-7282-3921-7

Coates (Silence in the Shadows) kicks off her Gravekeeper series with this atmospheric, open-ended thriller whose heroine struggles with her mystery-shrouded past. Keira awakens in a rainy wood, with no memory of how she got there and no explanation for why she’s being hunted. Seeking refuge in the nearby town of Blighty, she is taken in by a kindly pastor whose house abuts a graveyard. Almost immediately, Keira sees a specter emerge from the cemetery: it’s Emma Carthage, who was murdered by a descendant of the town’s founder in the 1980s and whose ghost is visible only to Keira. As Keira investigates Emma’s murder, she draws in some new friends and allies—but also incites the ire of a slew of new enemies. Coates laces her macabre tale with the requisite gothic flourishes, but the mysteries they darken dissipate easily with a minimum of drama. In contrast, Keira’s identity and the source of her unusual talents are enigmas that remain to be solved in future installments, creating an open-ended feeling that will frustrate some readers. Fans of eerie ghost stories will be hooked by the premise, but many will long for a more substantial execution. [em](May) [/em]