The Whisperer by Karin Fossum
|The Whisperer by Karin Fossum|
|Reviewer: Sue Magee|
|Summary: An unusual police procedural in that we know who has committed the crime, but it's a long time before we know what the crime was. The ending is mind-bending.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 384||Date: December 2018|
|Publisher: Harvill Secker|
When we first meet Ragna we can't understand what's going on. She's talking to Inspector Konrad Sejer and it's obvious that she's being held in custody because of a crime which she admits she's committed. Only, as we hear about Greta's life it seems that she's more sinned against than sinning. After a botched operation on her vocal chords she can't speak above a whisper and to add insult to injury she's been left with a horrible scar across her throat. She's done her best to make a go of her life though: she enjoys her work in a shop and has learned ways of coping with the difficulties of communicating with people.
Her life began to take a turn for the worse when she began to receive anonymous threatening letters. They turn up at irregular intervals in her mailbox, addressed just to 'Riegel'. Her immediate reaction was to burn them or throw them in the rubbish: she had no immediate thought of taking them to the police. Ragna was determined that she was not going to be beaten. It would have helped if she'd had someone to talk to, but she lived on her own. Her parents were dead and her son had moved to Berlin. He sent cards at Christmas and on her birthday but that was the extent of their communication. He was a source of pride for her - she'd tell her fellow workers about his responsible job as a director of a big Berlin hotel. That didn't solve her immediate problem though.
As we read, Sejer teases out the facts of Ragna's life and what happened in the prelude to the serious crime which we know she committed although we don't know what it was. In fact we're a long way into the book before we know what happened. The Whisperer is an unusual police procedural: Sejer is there, but not the rest of the team which we know so well. We hear what Ragna and Sejer say to each other and we have flashbacks to Ragna's life before the crime. Initially I was rather disappointed by this: I like the cut and thrust of an investigation and the surprise of finding out the perpetrator. I found too that there was more telling than showing, but I found myself strangely drawn into the story, convinced that I knew the outcome.
There is, though, quite a startling twist at the end, which blew me away and completely changed my view of what had happened - and then there's another. It's a book with a slow burn, but it's worth persevering for the pleasure of such a well imagined and constructed ending. I'd like to thank the publishers for making a copy available to the Bookbag.
The book reads perfectly well as a standalone, but if you'd like to read the books in chronological order you'll find a list here.
You can read more book reviews or buy The Whisperer by Karin Fossum at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy The Whisperer by Karin Fossum at Amazon.com.
Like to comment on this review?
Just send us an email and we'll put the best up on the site.