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Review of Whitesands by Johann Thorsson

November 29, 2021

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Keturah Barchers has an MFA in creative writing from Western Colorado University with an emphasis in genre fiction. To finance her love for writing science fiction and fantasy, she works for Metropolitan State University of Denver's writing center. When she isn't writing and speaking about writing, she's reading and frolicking around the earth with her husband. You can find her on Twitter @keturahbarchers.

Whitesands by Johann Thorsson is a paranormal police procedural thriller (say that three times fast) that is sure to keep your attention. John Dark and Monique Moreno are partners and two of the best homicide detectives on the force, but their personal lives are in shambles. John’s daughter has been missing for a year, and Monique’s daughter is an addict. Both are dedicated parents who would do anything for their children, even if that means bending the rules. When a string of incredibly disturbing and linked murders occurs, the two detectives find themselves faced to face with a darkness from the other side. Daniel Hope is a genius, able to solve complex issues in seconds, a skill that leads to people coming to him as a last-ditch effort to find answers. He doesn’t welcome the attention. Daniel suffers from schizophrenia and is never sure if the person asking him for help is real or not.

Whitesands by Johann Thorsson (Headshot Books, 2021)

While this book is a good read for those who love paranormal thrillers, it has deeper elements that work through some painful struggles of the human experience. 

The desperate attempts from John and Monique to reach their children speak to the parent/child relationship at its rawest level. The heartache and emptiness of missing children, either literally or at an arm’s length away, is a nightmare no parent wants to face. In every aspect of this book, there’s a whispering haunt of where this kind of tragedy can lead.

John is missing not only his daughter, but his faith. The series of murders brings John to the brink of all that he knows, and suddenly he is questioning the spirituality he has railed against his whole life. He begins to ask himself uncomfortable questions like, is there a spiritual world beyond this one? Can one tap into that world, or, the more disturbing question, can that world reach out and tap into ours?

As Daniel navigates interacting with others, he examines internal conflicts and moral decisions, coming to epiphanies about society and the human psyche. He has a clear view of things despite the maze of confusion within his mind. Daniel’s condition may make him unreliable to some, but his scrutiny of humanity is insightful.

Thought-provoking, the confrontation of someone’s beliefs, the connection to struggles, these are things I crave in books. They are also things that I think Throsson’s story has, but not so much that the suspense that a reader expects from a psychological thriller fades. One can choose to face some of these questions that the characters face or just enjoy a well-told story. Whether your flavor is ghost or police procedure Michael Connelly-type stories, this is worth a week’s worth of attention. Whitesands by Johann Thorsson is the first book in what promises to be a thrilling series.