“A diabolically creepy hybrid of horror and psychological suspense that thrills as much as it unsettles.”—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.
Chapman (The Remaking) evokes the "satanic panic" that convulsed schools and day care centers in the 1980s, destroying reputations and lives, in this spellbinding psychological thriller. In 1983, five-year-old Sean Crenshaw is goaded by seemingly concerned adults into fabricating accounts of ritual abuse of students by teachers at his school. Thirty years later, with the resulting witch hunts behind him, Sean has renamed himself Richard Bellamy and works as an art teacher at the upscale Danvers School in Virginia. But a series of disturbing incidents pulls him back into the nightmare of his past: a school pet is found ritually slaughtered, and kids in his class begin blaming bruises on their bodies on a fellow student named "Sean" even though Richard has no student of that name. Chapman skillfully toggles between 1983 and 2013, tantalizing readers with the possibility that Richard's suppressed past self might somehow be expressing itself in the present, and he laces the text with interviews between young Sean and manipulative authorities who are horrifying in their own right. The result is a suspenseful tale of paranoia that will keep readers riveted until the last surprise is sprung.