Publisher: Putnam (January 1, 1980)
The story begins with a fairly simple plot. Successful screenwriter Hilary Thomas does not know she is being stalked by Bruno Frye, a winery owner she met while doing research for one of her movies. That is until he confronts her in her home and attempts to rape and murder her. She scares him off by shooting at him but when she reports the incident to the police, they do not believe her. Detective Tony Clemenza is the only police officer who gives her the benefit of the doubt. However, when Frye returns to kill her, she stabs him to death and after finding his body, the attitudes of the police change.
Here's where it begins to get complicated. Frye believes that his dead mother, who abused him terribly as a child, is returning from the dead in the bodies of women who resemble her. But when Frye returns even after he has been found dead, autopsied and embalmed the terror returns for Hilary and Detective Clemenza.
If you read the author's words you will learn that writing this book took a physical and emotional toll. At first he didn't realize why. A decade later, he could look back on the book and understand that he was writing out of painful personal experience. The main characters in Whispers suffer terrible, violent childhoods. Some overcome those traumas, and some do not; indeed, one of them becomes a serial killer. Koontz had lived through a childhood marked by physical and psychological violence and although his experience was not like that of Hillary, and certainly not like that of Bruno, he was nevertheless drawing upon his own life for the emotional content of the novel.
This book is a definite page turner, absorbing and full of suspense.
Hilary Thomas is still struggling to cope with the nightmarish memories of the abuse she suffered at the hands of her parents. Tony Clemenza is a police detective who dreams of earning a living as an artist. But he lacks faith in his talent and takes refuge in the fact that he is, at least, a good cop. Bruno Frye is rich but unhappy, insecure. Frye is a killer, compelled to slaughter beautiful women. But there's a special dark place, filled with menacing whispers, where something hideous waits to kill Frye. Some people think Hilary/s report of Frye/s first attack on her is a lie or the work of a fevered imagination. But Tony believes and tries to help her. Tony and Hilary fall in love, but their chances of living to enjoy each other are slim. Frye is a persistent, efficient killing machine. Nothing will stop him; not even death.