432 pages - 16.50 $
I bought the book The Lost Girls of Rome by Donato Carrisi because he's Italian and I wanted to read something other than Scandinavian or Anglophone thrillers for a change and the French cover was intriguing, as well as the blurb... I haven't yet had the opportunity to read it. End of March, I went to Lyon, in the festival Quai du Polar and Donato Carrisi was there. I didn't bring my book, so I bought another one: The Whisperer to have it signed. I attended a conference on disappearances in which he participated and I found his interventions to be very intelligent and relevant. It could only be promising!
A gripping literary thriller and smash bestseller that has taken Italy, France, Germany and the UK by storm.
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.
Obsessed with a case that becomes more tangled and intense as they unravel the layers of evil, lead investigators Mila Vasquez, a celebrated profiler, and Goran Gavila, an eerily prescient criminologist, find that their lives are increasingly in each other's hands. As sensational a bestseller in Europe as the Stieg Larsson novels, THE WHISPERER is that rare creation: a thought-provoking, intelligent thriller that is also unputdownable.
What's good about it
The very well crafted story and the twists (and what twists!) Carrisi leads us by the nose and we don't realize it until the end. This is really good! It's been a while since I had interrupted my reading to shout out "Crap! I didn't see it coming!"
From the beginning, we know that there are six little girls missing (well anyway, it's written on the blurb, so it's not a discovery). Mila, specialist in disappearance is asked to help to find out who is the sixth victim. But whoever did this is very, very strong. He is the one who calls the shots and the police can only run after him and try to understand the messages he leaves them. Then the girls reappear each one after the other and as they find new horrors, it become increasingly urgent to discover the identity of the sixth girl. The story was well constructed, the discovery that goes with every little girl was quite intriguing for the book but Donato Carrisi do not stop there. He hasn't just written a good book based on real facts, no, actually it's a must read book that packs a punch.
The characters are well written, each with its secrets, which is the underlying theme of the book: we all have a dark side in us. What matters is whether we will lose ourselves in the dark side or if we'll stay in the light. Gavila the ephemeral criminologist and Mila whose past has made her an expert in disappearance are the two main characters and if one is never quite consisting thus endearing, the other is a more complex character one begins to appreciate.
Good to know, throughout the novel the story is told from the perspectives of Mila and Gavila, some missives of a warden about one of its residents and the thoughts of a captive little girl. It may sound confusing but all is clear in the end and you won't see coming the explanation!
In a nutshell
This is the first novel by Donato Carrisi and it's excellent! Well-written characters, well-crafted plot and incredible twists, it's a 5/5 for me.