It's not pretty, but it is worth it...
The Whisperer is a bit like a literary fairytale. An unknown Italian author publishes his debut thriller to an astonishing level of critical acclaim in his home country; success is already assured for Carrisi – but does his debut really warrant the headline: “The most eagerly awaited thriller in the world”?
Six severed left arms laid out in circle, barely concealed. Five missing girls aged between eight and thirteen; the question is: who does the sixth arm belong to? Who is the sixth girl? And where are the rest of their bodies? Criminologist, Dr Gavila leads an intimate crack team to discover who the serial killer is that lurks in their midst. Gavila is an intense individual, suffering with the loss of his wife – she didn’t die, she just abandoned him... him and his son, Tommy. He is joined by Mila, a policewoman specialising in finding missing persons. Mila has her own troubled past; a past that impacts her present through acts of self-harm and an emotional detachment from the world. The Whisperer is as much about Mila’s journey as it is about the serial killer. You could say that the two are inextricably linked.
There is an unmistakable tang of the continental about The Whisperer and as such, the occasional oddity in grammar or choice of vocabulary charms rather than irritates. Certainly, the translation could be a bit sharper – more precise – but that would dampen down the authenticity of the narrative. The Whisperer brings to mind another great European crime writer: Fred Vargas, in that Carrisi’s telling is equally thought-provoking and introspective in nature. We are forced to pose ourselves serious questions about the essence of evil. Who is ultimately culpable – the one who incites or the one who lets themselves be led? And where does evil come from – is it latent in all of us just waiting for someone or something to let it out?
What is so fabulous about Carrisi is that he achieves something that few thrillers do nowadays. In an genre soaked in with a morbid curiosity with the criminal elements of our society, thriller writers have to go to more and more extremes to shock and titillate us; the reader having become so sophisticated that they can sniff out a plotline a mile away. However, The Whisperer layers its truths, hiding plot within subplot so that the true ending leaves you reeling. Complex, clever and chilling; we have our fingers crossed that Carrisi is no one-hit-wonder – a hope that would allow us to savour the anticipation of a second novel, which he surely must write.
We interview C J Daugherty about Night School
- 10 January 2012