Book Review: Faceless by Dawn Kopman Whidden

Dawn Kopman Whidden
Brighton Publishing, November 2013
ISBN 978-1-62183-140-2
Trade Paperback

As a fan of the mysterious, the creepy, and psychological, twisted thrillers; I have questioned my sanity; but the quest is always short-lived, as I really and truly just want to start reading. When I delightedly ripped open the package containing my (very special, personalized, signed copy) of Faceless and began reading as I stumbled away from the still open mail-box, I was struck by a second, even quirkier query.

I had been stalking my post-man for days, not just because Ms. Whidden spins an alluring, captivating web of mystery, murder and mayhem; but because I knew that I was in for a special reunion, as the very characters I admired and grew fond of in A Child is Torn are the same characters in this tome! But wait. What does that say about me? I am thrilled to see how their lives have changed, what’s new, as if I am checking up on old friends, all the while knowing that, well, something bad is certainly going to happen.

A reader isn’t kept waiting, for indeed there is a gruesome, twisted murder and a delightful cacophony of surly teens that could easily morph into suspects with just a bit of finesse. But, true to form, Ms. Whidden doesn’t dare make the story so simple. Upon closer inspection, we have a respected adult that most certainly could have committed the heinous act, albeit the “why” is not so obvious.

As the townsfolk casually size one and other up, another victim is taken. The act of murder, in and of itself, raises thousands of questions; but when the perpetrator appears to have so much anger and hatred bottled up inside, but behaves normally on the surface, fear and apprehension rise to new terrifying levels. Faceless has all of the quintessential elements needed for a thrilling mystery and while you may think you know who the killer is, I have a feeling that this author will surprise you.

Ms. Whidden masterfully blends the captivating lives of the recurring characters with the turmoil and terror caused by the knowledge of the serial killer among them. These characters that entranced me in A Child is Torn, became beloved in Faceless. So much so, that one day I found myself tearing through chores and errands just so that I could squeeze in some time with my “pals” in Faceless…..until it hit me…..I had finished the book the night before. I had no choice but to immediately order the next chapter of their lives, Stolen. Now, where is that post-man?

Reviewed by jv poore, September 2014.

Book Review: A Child Is Torn by Dawn Kopman Whidden

A Child Is TornA Child is Torn: Innocence Lost
Dawn Kopman Whidden
Brighton Publishing, December 2012
ISBN 978-1-62183-040-5
Trade Paperback

There is only one right way to begin this review, and that is with a huge “Thank You!” shout out to the Psychological Thrillers Group on Goodreads. You guys rock! You refused to let this author fly under my radar for another second and I could not be more grateful.

Always a fan of that which is puzzling, frightening, and quite incomprehensible, A Child is Torn is the perfect tale for me. First, this book is scary. Not the nail-biting, Stephen King/Dean Koontz; how-I-am-ever-going-to-finish-this-book-with-my-eyes-closed, scary; but more the horrifying, Danny Boyd/Bill Bitner; chilling, creeping, this-will-forever-be-in-my-brain, scary. The kind that, as you read, you think; okay, this is frightening…and creepy…and…haunting; but that angst doesn’t end when you close the book. Rather, the terror settles deeply in your bones only to leak out when you least expect. A seemingly innocuous situation suddenly slams you straight into a scene from the book. Once again, obsesses with young Brad; pondering, wondering “what if…”, “how would I handle….” and the ever-present, “why?”

Quickly immersed in Brad’s own personal and perplexing Hell; it occurred to me: maybe Ms. Whidden didn’t write this book at all. I caught myself reading ridiculously fast, at times, because I felt compelled to keep up with the frantic pace of so many words spilling onto page after page; almost as if the author was more of a channel for a story that demanded to be told than the creator of it.

Filled with rich, vibrant (yet authentic) characters; this reader was promptly invested in the plight, the ebb and flow of relationships and the individual and unique opinions about Brad and the tragedy. Solving the mystery became imperative, not just for the sake of a little boy, but in order to alleviate the pain and suffering of all those quirky people that I’d quickly grown fond of.

The mystery is of epic proportions. Smart, educated people are forced to challenge logic, evidence and cold hard facts if, for no other reason, than keeping hope alive. Accepting would mean reevaluating beliefs and understandings developed over a life-time. No more tidy pigeon-holes, good-bye black and white; wrong and right; hello complicated questions spiraling downward, leading only to more queries.

The ending….well, that’s for you to decide. Right now, I need to clear off some space on my Jonathan Kellerman bookshelf to make room for more Dawn Kopman Whidden. I am so looking forward to reading each and every one her books.

Reviewed by jv poore, June 2014.