The Whisperer – Donato Carrisi

Title – The Whisperer

Author – Donato Carrisi (translated by Shaun Whiteside)

Published – 2009 (translated 2010)

Genre – Crime fiction

I treated myself to this book a while ago when I felt I needed to read more gritty Italian crime fiction.

The severed left arms of 6 young girls are found in a forest clearing. Five little girls have been kidnapped over the course of a week. But there are six arms…

The investigation is being led by criminologist Dr Goran Gavila – to say that he is troubled would be an understatement! Assigned, begrudgingly, to assist him is Mila Vasquez, an expert in finding missing children. Mila is herself a dark character with some uncomfortable personal traits.

I found it hard not to draw comparisons between Mila Vasquez and Lisbeth Salander of Stieg Larsson’s novels, and for me Salander would come out as the more likeable character.

One of the reasons I enjoy reading Italian crime fiction is for the setting – it doesn’t matter to me that there may be dirty deeds – as long as there’s some Italian scenery to absorb. So my first disappointment with this book has to be that it wasn’t set anywhere. Sorry  – that probably doesn’t make sense. The setting was placeless, not really specific to anywhere, any country, which left me feeling a little lost (as well as disappointed).

This is described as “Italian Literary Fiction” and I can only assume that this is because of the large sections of seemingly unnecessary prose.

I happened to meet some fellow bloggers while I was reading this and did say that I couldn’t recommend it, but there were twists and turns that were yet to come that perhaps would make me re-think this statement. I did enjoy the murder-mystery element of the book (although there were some unpleasant aspects to it) but couldn’t warm to the investigators and felt the whole book lacked any atmosphere.

You can see more thoughts about this book over at Farm Lane Books.

Score – 3/5


  1. Sorry to hear you didn’t like this more than you did. To me, a solid atmosphere and at least some characters that appeal to me are part of what make a good crime fiction novel. I’ll probably wait on this one…

  2. I hate non descript settings too! Especially with crime novels, a setting makes such a big difference. I love that Scandinavian crime fiction is always cold, bleak and spooky while a New York City murder mystery has that no-BS NY attitude and chaotic city streets. Such a pity they couldn’t get more of Italy into this book.

    1. It was a shame – there are some really excellent crime books where you almost feel that the setting is another character – lacking in this one though.

  3. I agree that the lack of any recognisable setting was the biggest problem with this book. It was all so bland and lacking in atmosphere. Sounds as though we had similar thoughts on this one.

    1. I think we did Jacky. It wouldn’t have been so bad if I hadn’t chosen it on purpose because it was Italian! Back to my David Hewson & Andrea Camilleri then.

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