The Whisperer
Donato Carrisi
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Buy *The Whisperer* by Donato Carrisi online

The Whisperer
Donato Carrisi
Mulholland Books
432 pages
January 2012
rated 4 1/2 of 5 possible stars

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In this stunning thriller, Donato Carrisi has created a masterful balance of good and evil, deftly shaded by the flawed humanity of those who seek to impose some order on crime and violence. The novel begins with the discovery of a series of small graves, each containing the severed left arm of a young girl. Five girls have been reported missing; the sixth is unexpected, a fact as yet unknown by the media. A serial murder team led by civilian criminologist Goren Gavila has recently added Mila Vasquez to their tightly-knit membership. Mila’s instinct for locating missing children from the sordid lairs of their kidnappers has proved a considerable asset, albeit a skill born of her own private nightmares.

With time running out and the identity of the sixth victim yet to be revealed, the team believes that the last girl may still be found—hopefully alive. All their efforts are in service to that rescue in a taut plot where the most depraved offenders are revealed one by one, ugly secrets exposed along with the girls’ bodies in gruesome tableau, macabre clues one after another like breadcrumbs in a dense forest. At the center, a Machiavellian killer orchestrates a long and painful drama that reaches even into the psyches of investigators struggling to make sense of the strategic clues. No detail is left unresolved in a meticulous rendering of a soul sickness that thrives on society’s underbelly, where evil flourishes and twisted minds act out their fantasies with impunity.

The mastermind behind it all displays the familiar characteristics of a demented mind, but the dark chasms of the detectives’ inner lives yield the most troubling conflict, a flickering netherworld where self-doubt, shame and guilt fester, vulnerabilities open to exploitation by a sociopath. While not as hauntingly gruesome as Harris’s The Silence of the Lambs (to which The Whisperer has been compared), this compulsive thriller is woven of the same seductive fabric, the half-mended cloth of private damage to those on the front lines of a thankless battle, the price of dancing with the devil, of descending into the abyss where monsters are found: “God is silent. The devil whispers.”

Each phase of a mind-numbing chase is fraught with searing revelations, the well of human depravity seemingly endless. The team perseveres, even when the horror creeps into the midst of their solidarity, a decomposing child’s body meant to contaminate the very heart of Gavila’s group. Brilliantly conceived and meticulously rendered, this is the genre at the top of its form, reality juxtaposed with horror, hope with despair, the light of day burning off the shadows of the night—but only temporarily. The investigative team’s humanity is tested severely, for some beyond reason. From that first eerie graveyard to the shocking ending, nothing in this tale is predictable. Shockwaves tremble throughout an impressive and deeply satisfying piece of work.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at © Luan Gaines, 2012

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