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The Whisperer by Donato Carrisi

The premise of Donato Carrisi’s “The Whisperer” is that there is a rarely identified category of serial killer who instills in other people the urge to kill.  These “whisperers” if you will never get their own hands dirty, but are behind large numbers of murders carried out by their disciples.  The most famous of this category of serial killer is Charles Manson.  Here’s a link to a  video clip by Carrisi explaining his theory.

“The Whisperer” is a gripping story that is hard to put down about a team of law enforcement serial killer specialists who investigate the apparent abduction and murder of six young girls.  Six freshly sawed off left arms are found buried, but only five bodies are eventually recovered in places that help the serial killer to control every move of the crime team. What increases the intensity of the search and the anxiety of the crime team is knowing that there is a sixth girl out there who may still be alive.  An intriguing element of the plot is that by clearing up the case of the missing girls the cops are also solving a number of other, previously unknown, serial killing cases.  The investigators wonder if these killers know each other or have some common connection back to “Albert” the man presumed to be the abductor and killer of the young girls.

The plot builds very effectively with each additional discovery of a body.  By the time the body of the fifth girl is found the team is highly anxious about whether they can find the sixth girl alive.

In addition to being about the highly technical work of locating and stopping a serial killer, the book is also about the tormented life of one of the team members, Mila Vasquez, who is an expert on missing children.  It turns out that she was abducted as a child and now in her work she is forced to relive some of her own horror.  Mila brings in a medium who also provides an important lead.

One thing that particularly bothered me about the book is that there is no specific city or country setting for this book.  We can presume that it is not North America because the translation is British and there is no indication that the team members are from the FBI.  It looks to be either some British team, or more likely, Interpol crime-fighting group. I suppose this could be viewed as clever writing because then no matter what language the book is translated into it can fit that place.  The names of the characters are a mixture of Hispanic and eastern European.  I believe the translation would have been more effective if readers could pinpoint a specific city.  As it is, the procedural details are a little too generic to hold attention.

I noted that in some other review sites commenters felt that the plot did not hold together very well.  Some found the nun who is brought in to extract ideas from the mind of a dying serial killer too hokey to be believed.  It’s true that in order to believe the possibility that there are whisperers who can subliminally get to other people and turn them into killers it takes a little suspension of disbelief.

I feel that the plot has a nice symmetry about it.  I like that in solving this mystery the police find and stop a number of other killers.  The plot doesn’t have to be totally believable to still provide a tense, satisfying psychological thriller.  That is exactly what this book is: an intense, satisfying psychological thriller with a number of interesting characters. The translation from the author’s native Italian is not as clean as I would prefer, and the lack of a specific place for the plot detracts from its effectiveness, but overall I like “The Whisperer.”

Liz Nichols



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