Whisper Down the Lane

A Novel

About the Book

Inspired by the McMartin preschool trials and the Satanic Panic of the ‘80s, the critically acclaimed author of The Remaking delivers another pulse pounding, true-crime-based horror novel.

Richard doesn’t have a past. For him, there is only the present: a new marriage to Tamara, a first chance at fatherhood to her son Elijah, and a quiet but pleasant life as an art teacher at Elijah’s elementary school in Danvers, Virginia. Then the body of a rabbit, ritualistically murdered, appears on the school grounds with a birthday card for Richard tucked beneath it. Richard doesn’t have a birthday—but Sean does . . .

Sean is a five-year-old boy who has just moved to Greenfield, Virginia, with his mother. Like most mothers of the 1980s, she’s worried about bills, childcare, putting food on the table . . . and an encroaching threat to American life that can take the face of anyone: a politician, a friendly neighbor, or even a teacher. When Sean’s school sends a letter to the parents revealing that Sean’s favorite teacher is under investigation, a white lie from Sean lights a fire that engulfs the entire nation—and Sean and his mother are left holding the match.

Now, thirty years later, someone is here to remind Richard that they remember what Sean did. And though Sean doesn’t exist anymore, someone needs to pay the price for his lies.


One of The Lineup’s Scariest Horror Books We’re Most Looking Forward to in 2021

“[A] spellbinding psychological thriller…a suspenseful tale of paranoia that will keep readers riveted until the last surprise is sprung.”—Publishers Weekly, starred review

“Creepy and engaging, this is a tale for readers who enjoy true crime like We Believe the Children by Richard Beck (2015), horror like Grady Hendrix’s My Best Friend’s Exorcism (2016), and intensely disorienting psychological suspense like Fever Dream by Samanta Schweblin (2017).”—Booklist

“Devilishly good. In Whisper Down the Lane, Clay McLeod Chapman has given us a diabolically creepy hybrid of horror and psychological suspense that thrills as much as it unsettles. You’ll keep turning the pages even as your hands shake.”—Riley Sager, New York Times bestselling author of Home Before Dark

“In Whisper Down the Lane, Clay McLeod Chapman has gifted readers a novel that is darkly compelling, deeply discomfiting, and achingly human. We squirm as the dread and terror mount, but we can’t stop reading. We’re under the spell of a true storyteller, and bound to follow him wherever he takes us. Prepare to surrender some sleep for this twisting tale of family, memory, identity, and the weight of old sins.”—Shaun Hamill, author of A Cosmology of Monsters

“A beguiling page-turner brimming with dread, Whisper Down the Lane is diabolical fun.”—Rachel Harrison, author of The Return and Cackle

“Chapman’s latest allows us to deal with horrors we don’t often get to see depicted like this. The horror of our past selves, the horror of guilt and consequence, the power of a mass delusion. Terrifying, sad, and even a tiny dash hopeful. I loved it.”—Adam Cesare, author of Clown in a Cornfield and Video Night

“Scary, compelling, heartbreaking, Whisper Down the Lane dredges our generation’s collective past and turns up the worst monsters of all: us. A fantastic read.”—Andy Davidson, author of The Boatman’s Daughter

“I waltzed into Whisper Down the Lane confident that I wasn’t going to let a little Satanic Panic get to me. Instead I fearfully devoured chapter after chapter….Chapman’s 80s-inspired horror will crawl under your skin and shake you silly, and you’ll like it.”—Molly Pohlig, author of The Unsuitable

Whisper Down the Lane is a twisting maze of deadly secrets and dark, dangerous shadows. A nail-biting exercise of psychological terror…I couldn’t stop turning the pages. Clay McLeod Chapman has outdone himself.”—Richard Chizmar, author of Chasing the Boogeyman

Whisper Down the Lane is a brilliant nightmare. Chapman will ensnare you in a terrifying web deftly woven with lies, good intentions, childhood fears and local hysteria. From the very first chapter, you’ll be caught.”—Mallory O’Meara, best-selling author of The Lady from the Black Lagoon

“Chapman is a maestro at building grim suspense to the point of unimaginable consequences, proving genuine horror dwells in the world we live in today.”—Mystery and Suspense Magazine

About the Author

Clay McLeod Chapman

Clay McLeod Chapman is the creator of the storytelling session “The Pumpkin Pie Show” and the author of Rest Area, Nothing Untoward, and The Tribe trilogy. He is the co-author, with Nightmare Before Christmas director Henry Selick, of the middle grade novel Wendell and Wild. In the world of comics, Chapman’s work includes Lazaretto, Iron Fist: Phantom Limb, and Edge of Spiderverse. He also writes for the screen, including The Boy (SXSW 2015), Henley (Sundance 2012), and Late Bloomer (Sundance 2005). You can find him at claymcleodchapman.com.

Product Details

  • Hardcover ISBN: 9781683692157
  • Paperback ISBN: 978-1-68369-306-2
  • e-Book ISBN: 9781683692164
  • Page Count: 304
  • Release Date: April 6, 2021