The Whisperer by Donato Carrisi

Author: Donato Carrisi
Publisher: Mulholland Books
Format: Paperback
Series: Mila Vasquez #1
Genre: Mystery | Suspense


Six severed arms are discovered, arranged in a mysterious circle and buried in a clearing in the woods. Five of them appear to belong to missing girls between the ages of eight and eighteen. The sixth is yet to be identified. Worse still, the girls’ bodies, alive or dead, are nowhere to be found.

Lead investigators Mila Vasquez, a celebrated profiler, and Goran Gavila, an eerily prescient criminologist, dive into the case. They’re confident they’ve got the right suspect in their sights until they discover no link between him and any of the kidnappings except the first. The evidence in the case of the second missing child points in a vastly different direction, creating more questions than it answers.

Vasquez and Gavila begin to wonder if they’ve been brought in to take the fall in a near-hopeless case. Is it all coincidence? Or is a copycat criminal at work? Obsessed with a case that becomes more tangled and intense as they unravel the layers of evil, Gavila and Vasquez find that their lives are increasingly in each other’s hands.


THE WHISPERER is classified as a mystery, but the only mystery here is why I bothered to read it to the end. Un-necessarily graphic and for all the wrong reasons, Carrisi, the author—who, by the way, it should be noted, also calls himself a criminologist—seems to be under the impression this is what makes a serial killer what, more glamorous to us? I’m still scratching my head in wonderment.

Let’s start with the characters who are never really fleshed out beyond the obvious. And why do I say obvious, because the author is too lazy to go for any depth here, after all, the story—which, by the way—is carried by the two main characters, don’t need to be real people. They are there to carry the story, to offer exclamations of disgust and to use profanities, instead of having a  personality to convey any real emotion.

These people are dealing with a cunning (so we are told) serial killer, with absolutely no empathy. But then, after reading this, you will feel that Carrisi’s characters are, themselves, devoid of any emotion.

The main character Goran Gavalia, is the civilian, a criminologist brought in to help the police find the child killer. But he spends most of the time asking every one questions or, looking off into the distance, lost in his own thoughts. And when he does talk, it’s mostly in questions or to impart wisdom: i.e., queue info dump.

The other apparent main character is a young female cop, and profiler, who hunts down pedophiles and rescues kidnapped children. A perfect fit, you would think (and how convenient) for the team. But she too is lost in her own world, as we slowly learn about her weird past. And that she too, like the serial killer, is devoid of empathy. Hence, the author emphasises again and again, this makes her capable of identifying with the killer, and a valuable asset to the team. But she never connects, because the author never let’s us “see” the killer or interact in any way with him. Just the aftermath he leaves behind—a gruesome trail of dead children.

Which is all very frustrating.

Thin characterisation hampers this convoluted grisly and morbid story, that focuses on the “how” to catch the killer—though it never really becomes a police procedural—and covers nothing of who the killer is. What he thinks. Or why he’s killing little girls. One theory, among the many we have to wade through, is that he’s getting back at the mothers of the children. All of whom are older women who have had one daughter, late in life. All are fairly well off, but come from different backgrounds. But like every other idea offered, none are really fully explored.

What I concluded from all of this dreary reading is, Carrisi seems to be exploring his own theories on what makes a serial killer, and using the character of Gavalia in which to expound further upon why people do what they do. But again, we never really get any satisfactory answers. Just lots of talk, lots of hypothesising, and a team that drives from one grisly crime scene to another. And worse, fails at every juncture to connect the dots.

In the end, I didn’t care who the killer was. And I felt desensitised the further I read, bored and loosing interest at each supposed twist and turn that ended in another blind alley.

Drab dull characters, stilted dialogue, a lack of any pacing whatsoever, accompanied by a vapid backdrop. We’re in a generic city, somewhere. But we never get a name of any town, city or village. Every vestige to identify where this is all taking place, has been stripped out of this Italian translation. It feels like we’re somewhere in Europe, with big mountains, certainly not the UK, or even America. And the names of the characters also suggest some generic city in Europe. Even the weather is given a backseat. Because, why bother giving us any relevant detail.

All in all, not recommended unless you want to get inside the head of an amateur criminologist, and suffer being constantly lectured too!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.