Richard is an art teacher at an upscale elementary school in Virginia, where his new wife, Tamara, also teaches, and her son, Elijah, attends. He’s got a great job, is lucky in love, and now his 5-year-old stepson wants Richard to adopt him. Things couldn’t be better for the beloved teacher, until disturbing reminders of his long-buried childhood trauma begin to surface, threatening to destroy his newfound happiness and possibly even his mind.
In Whisper Down The Lane, author Clay McLeod Chapman toggles between Richard’s current life and flashbacks of his life-altering experience as a 5-year-old at the center of the “Satanic Panic,” the 1980s conspiracy theory that children were being abused in satanic rituals which triggered widespread panic and wild accusations all over the United States. We see from Richard’s perspective what he was thinking as a child and how he overcame what happened, earnestly reinventing himself into a mild-mannered educator and father figure. But there’s also interview transcripts from the 1980s of the boy giving coerced and leading testimony to his psychotherapist, the result of which caused the downfall of many around him and the end to life as he knew it.