The Whisperer – Donato Carrisi

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The Whisperer Translated from the Italian by Shaun Whiteside

Five words from the blurb: missing, girls, arms, police, secrets.

I hadn’t heard of this book, but spotted it in my library and was sold by the bold lettering on the cover proclaiming it to be:

The Italian Literary Thriller Phenomenon

The blurb informed me that it had won lots of Italian book awards and was a record-breaking bestseller in Europe and so I decided to give it a try.

The plot revolves around the discovery of a circle of arms buried in a forest. The bodies of the girls that they belonged to can not be found and so the hunt for their serial killer begins.

I initially loved this book. The writing style reminded me of Sophie Hannah and I was totally gripped to the horror that was unfolding.

A fresh anxiety took hold of her. She had put her own life and the hostage’s at risk. And now she was scared. Scared of making another mistake. Scared of stumbling at the last step, the one that would take her out of this horrible lair. Or discovering that the house would never let her go, that it would close in on her like a silken net, holding her prisoner for ever.

Unfortunately things began to unravel as the plot progressed. I began to feel patronised by the way the book repeated things and over-explained every situation. It was definitely a case of being told what was happening, rather than shown.

There were several sections where I had to suspend my disbelief. I don’t mind this to some extent in a thriller, but the plot in this book stretched my tolerance threshold to the limit.

I guess my main problem with this book is the marketing. The Whisperer isn’t a literary thriller. It is a good thriller, but it doesn’t have the depth I’d expect from a book marketed with the word “literary”. I can see why thousands of people would enjoy flicking through this on the beach, but I was frustrated by the two-dimensional characters and the increasingly bizarre plot twists.

Recommended to those who enjoy fast paced thrillers that focus on plot rather than character.

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10 Comments

  1. Sandy says:

    I would have lost my patience too Jackie. I read way too many crime thrillers to tolerate hand-holding and over-explaining. So many books in this genre pander to the lowest common denominator. They also often start out with a frightening premise, but don’t have the endurance to maintain the intensity. I think with the likes of Stieg Larsson, Tana French and Sophie Hannah, everyone wants to be a literary thriller now.

    1. Jackie says:

      Sandy, I love finding a good thriller, but I find I am disappointed more often than not. I wish that there were more real literary thrillers out there :-(

  2. Jackie, I read this book a year ago and had pretty much the same reaction. I love crime fiction and thrillers and don’t mind having to suspend my belief but this was just too farfetched even for me. I did enjoy it but it started to border on eye-rolling at times.

    1. Jackie says:

      The Book Whisperer, it is good to know I’m not alone in my thoughts on this one. I’m glad your eyes were rolling as much as mine.

  3. Kathleen says:

    This sounds like a perfect airplane book for me. It doesn’t have the depth that I might expect if I can give a book my complete attention but has enough to keep me interested on a long plane ride.

    1. Jackie says:

      Kathleen, I chose this as a public transport read too. The only reason I finished this was because I was stuck on a train with no other book. You might enjoy it, but those eye rolling moments are still there. I look forward to hearing your thoughts if you do decide to give it a try.

  4. stujallen says:

    I ve read few Italian crime books ,this dosen’t grab me as one I’d go for all the best stu

    1. Jackie says:

      Stu, I’ve got a copuple of Niccolo Ammaniti in my pile so I am hoping they are more to my taste.

  5. FleurFisher says:

    I’ve had this on hand for a while, but it just looks so long and yours isn’t the forst mixed report I’ve read.

    It’s not all literary, but if you are looking for interesting international crime novels, have you looked at the Bitter Lemon Press I wonder? I think you’d like a lot of the books on their list.

    1. Jackie says:

      FleurFisher, I haven’t looked at Bitter Lemon Press, but I’ll go and take a look now – thanks for the recommendation!

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