THE WHISPERER by Donato Carrisi


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In an ambiguous country, an ephemeral nameless land, Dr. Goran Gavila and a squad of police detectives hunt a soulless killer, a murderer single-mindedly intent on destroying families.

Passers-by stumbled upon a bizarre gravesite in a fog-shrouded forest. Five left arms, buried in a circle, five arms amputated from little girls gone missing. Gavila, professor and criminologist, and his squad are certain it is a serial killer’s work. Then a sixth arm is discovered, a limb of a child no one has reported missing. Gavila knows the psychopath’s ugly work has destroyed five families, each victim an only child. But the sixth girl cannot be identified, has never been reported missing, may in fact still be alive. With that, Mila Vasquez, a specialist in locating missing children, is assigned to the squad, bemused by an equivocal welcome and puzzled by the vacuous chief inspector. Carrisi’s debut thriller deviates from the conventional thriller’s modus operandi, often employing the graceful turns of phrase common to literary fiction—“one number to add to the cold accountancy of death.” Add the enigmatic geographical setting, ominous weather and character names drawn from assorted ethnic and cultural milieus, and the book resonates symbolically, a reminder that evil is universal and unforgiving. Gavila and Vasquez, each burdened by personal tragedy, are the protagonists, their stories amplified by other team members. The investigation widens, and the killer lures the detectives down the circles of hell exposing first a pedophile, then a sociopath masquerading as a good guy. Coping with disruption and deceit within the squad, Gavila and Vasquez eventually discover the killer’s identity and the obscene method he employs. Carrisi’s villain is a suitable cohort for Hannibal Lector, and his detectives are intelligently nuanced, each struggling, sometimes failing, to cope with the depravity into which they immerse themselves in the name of good.

A haunting, disconcerting, devastating portrait of evil.

Pub Date: Jan. 5th, 2012
ISBN: 978-0-316-19472-3
Page count: 416pp
Publisher: Mulholland Books/Little, Brown
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1st, 2011


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