Whistle in the Dark by Emma Healey

Whistle in the Dark Emma HealeyElizabeth is Missing was one of my favourite books of recent years.  I thought it was a clever story with an interesting protagonist.  Something I hadn’t read before.  I had hoped for the same with Whistle In The Dark and, in many ways, I got that.

This is the story of Jen, mother to Lana, a fifteen year old who goes missing for four days only to turn up battered and bruised and refusing to tell anyone what happened to her.  Or at least Jen think’s Lana is refusing.  Lana herself says that she can’t remember anything.

Jen is probably right to question Lana as her daughter has a history of mental health problems and their relationship is rocky at best.  She questions too much though, pushing Lana, her husband Hugh and her daughter, Meg, away.  You’ve also got to wonder about Jen’s mental health as her moods swing from happy to sad so quickly it was giving me whiplash.

With all this, I felt Emma Healey had painted a great picture of what it is like to live with someone with mental health problems and how it can be like walking on a knife edge.  How you can feel like you’re never saying the right thing and second-guess everything you do say.

Where I felt the book didn’t do so well was in the story itself.  It presents a plot that reads like a domestic thriller but isn’t, which left me confused.  It also left me slightly bored after a while.  I found myself drifting after another difficult conversation between Jen and Lana.  I got action but it was action that went nowhere and I got an ending that was sad but, somehow, unsatisfying.

I really wanted to like this book but I just didn’t.  It wasn’t all bad.  It started well and the writing kept me interested, as did the characters, but somewhere along the way it lost me and didn’t get me back.  Meaning, when all is said and done, it really wasn’t for me.  Sorry!

Emma x

About the book…

Jen and Hugh Maddox have just survived every parent’s worst nightmare

Relieved, but still terrified, they sit by the hospital bedside of their fifteen-year-old daughter, Lana, who was found bloodied, bruised, and disoriented after going missing for four days during a mother-daughter vacation in the country. As Lana lies mute in the bed, unwilling or unable to articulate what happened to her during that period, the national media speculates wildly and Jen and Hugh try to answer many questions

Where was Lana? How did she get hurt? Was the teenage boy who befriended her involved? How did she survive outside for all those days? Even when she returns to the family home and her school routine, Lana only provides the same frustrating answer over and over: “I can’t remember.”

For years, Jen had tried to soothe the depressive demons plaguing her younger child, and had always dreaded the worst. Now she has hope—the family has gone through hell and come out the other side. But Jen cannot let go of her need to find the truth. Without telling Hugh or their pregnant older daughter Meg, Jen sets off to retrace Lana’s steps, a journey that will lead her to a deeper understanding of her youngest daughter, her family, and herself.

Publisher: Viking
Publication Date: 3rd May, 2018
Number of pages: 304
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Rating: 3 out of 5

Find on: Goodreads / Amazon UK / Amazon US

Note: I received this book in return for a fair and honest review.  All thoughts, feelings and opinions are my own. 



  1. I’ve had Elizabeth is Missing on my Kindle for quite a while, as yet unread. Think I’ll start with that one, but I also suspect I’ll try this one as well.


  2. I really like the cover. I would have read it too JUST because the cover! Glad to hear you enjoy the writing! Too bad the storyarc was confusing and didn’t work for you Emma.


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