The Whisperer

On the Thursday of last week, I was going through a portion of Haruki Murakami's Kafka on the Shore that made me want to commit suicide. I knew I needed something good to read next, something that would grab hold of me and wouldn't let me go. The kind of story which sucks you in and makes you forget about everything else.

I was having lunch with a coworker that day and was telling her how uneven a read the Murakami book turned out to be. And avid reader herself, she has mostly been reading thrillers for the last couple of months. When asked about any good thrillers she could recommend, the lovely Joanie instantly replied Donato Carrisi's The Whisperer. No hesitation, straight up, this one was at the top of her list. The second one was Lars Kepler's The Hypnotist, which I have on the way.

That night, a quick Google search about Donato Carrisi's novel immediately piqued my curiosity. Dubbed the italian literary thriller phenomenon, The Whisperer appeared to be exactly what I needed. Problem is, as is often the case, English language publishers are often behind the rest of the world when it comes to international bestsellers. One only has to look at Stieg Larsson's Millennium trilogy, which became a worldwide phenomenon before it was even translated into English. I was disappointed to learn that the US edition of The Whisperer wouldn't be released until February. It is already out in the UK, however, which is a good thing. Hence, I had no choice but to read it in French. I could have gotten my hands on the British edition, but it would have taken too long. I was already hooked on the premise, and as the winner of the best European thriller last year I knew I couldn't wait to read this book.

God is silent, but the Devil whispers.

Here's the blurb:

Six buried arms. Six missing girls. A team led by Captain Roche and internationally renowned criminologist Goran Gavila are on the trail of a serial killer whose ferocity seems to have no limits. And he seems to be taunting them, leading them to discover each small corpse in turn; but the clues on the bodies point to several different killers. Roche and Gavila bring in Mila Vasquez, a specialist in cases involving children, and Mila discovers that the real killer is one who has never lifted a finger against the girls – but merely psychologically instructs others to do his work: a ‘subliminal killer’ – the hardest to catch.

I bought this book the following evening after my shift. Returned home, showered, prepared myself a snack, and then watched the sports news. I never read late at night, for my concentration is not what it should be. Yet my curiosity was piqued in such a way that I couldn't resist, and I decided to sit down to read "a chapter or two," just to get a feel for the novel. Before I knew it, it was past 1:00am and I had to force myself to stop reading. Yes, it's that kind of book. In the end, I went through it in only four sittings. I would have finished even sooner, if only I hadn't worked on Sunday. On Monday, I was texting Joanie, telling her just how crazy The Whisperer turned out to be!

The action supposedly occurs somewhere in Italy, but you never truly get the feeling that that the setting is indeed Italian. The Whisperer really has an international feel to it. A variety of sources were used by Donato Carrisi for this literary work, chief among them criminology and forensic psychiatry manuals, as well as several FBI papers regarding serial killers and violent crimes. Many true cases, finalized or ongoing, inspired a number of those found within the pages of the novel. With his homework done properly, Carrisi's debut has an unmistakable genuine feel to it.

The characterization is top notch. Professor Goran Gavila is the criminologist in charge of the investigation and a well-drawn character. The second character at the heart of the story is Mila Vasquez, who specializes in child kidnapping. Although the supporting cast also get POV sections, the narrative is driven by both Gavila and Mila's points of views. As disparate as it gets, seeing the tale unfold through both of their perspective makes for a great reading experience.

As engrossing as it is disturbing, Donato Carrisi's The Whisperer is a complex, multilayered thriller that stays with you long after you've reached the last page. The young age of the victims increases the emotional impact of certain sequences, which may not sit well with all readers. It's a clever work with plots and subplots forming a chilling tapestry, all of which culminating toward an ending that will knock you out cold. There is also a thought-provoking theme underlying the entire book: The true essence of evil. Does it exist within all of us, latent and just waiting to be released?

Though the novel is based on true law enforcement investigation techniques, and though psychics are occasionally used to work on special cases, I did feel it cheapened this troubling ensemble of macabre plotlines somewhat. But it doesn't take anything away from the overall reading experience, especially since the psychic's involvement is linked to one of the protagonists. The French translation was clunky at times, so hopefully the English version will be better.

All in all, this perturbing work is everything a thriller is supposed to be. The Whisperer is a veritable page-turner that begs to be read. Looking for something different? Something that might shock you, knowing that many of the storylines are based on true events? Then Donato Carrisi's The Whisperer is definitely for you.

Impossible to put down.

The final verdict: 10/10

For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe

6 commentaires:

Robert said...

Thanks for the heads up about this book Pat! I hadn't heard of it, but it sounds awesome :) I requested a copy as soon as I saw your first post and I can't wait to read it!

Mattvert said...

Oh, dear. I'm afraid having just finished this novel that the english translation is very, very poor indeed. It's clunky at best. Sometimes it really did feel like an adolescent had written the prose. Sad really as the premise was a great one.

Patrick said...

Matt: How clunky can the English translation be to merit a 4/10? The reviews I've read for the UK edition did not mention that it was atrocious to such a degree. . .

Mattvert said...

Pat: The translation lacked any descriptive flow and to a point it showed a dinstinctive loss of elegance; wether this was part of the italian original?...I just don't know.
The characterisation came across as very one dimensional: flat even. To me, there did seem to be sufficient detail contained in the authors prose for a more elegant structure. If it were not for the lack of a better translation then I would have certainly enjoyed the book more.
I read a fair few foreign authors and I've never experienced such a lack luster translation as this.
I really was a disapointment.
There was no stylistic embelishment.
It read very much like a word for word literal translation.
I've read a couple of reviews which mention the translation as weak; I think though that ultimatly the reader will either agree or not.

Ps. The 4/10 was for the translation.
Novel gets 8/10...


Jasper L'Estrange said...

Yes I agree with the English translation. There were some annoying repetitions within the same couple of paragraphs. Also, at one point one of the characters is startled by their phone ringing and the book says it took her a few minutes to realise it was just their phone. Surely, they meant "seconds"...?

It marred my enjoyment a little, although the narrative kept me going. Overall, really like the book, although the subject matter is relentlessly grim and the author steals from Harris's Hannibal Lecter books a little in my opinion.

Anonymous said...

I thought the book was excellent in english. Its a brilliant book.