Published by Abacus
Publication date – 5 November 2015
Source – review copy
“A new Italian literary thriller sensation from the prize-winning, record-breaking author of THE WHISPERER and THE LOST GIRLS OF ROME.
A brutal killer is on the streets of Rome.
He leaves no trace. And shows no mercy.
A series of gruesome murders leaves the police force in Rome reeling, with no real clues or hard evidence to follow. Assigned to the case is Sandra Vega, a brilliant forensic analyst, struggling to come to terms with the crimes and her own past. Sandra’s shared history with Marcus, a member of the ancient Penitenzeri – a unique Italian team, linked to the Vatican, and trained in the detection of true evil, means that the two are brought together again in the pursuit of a malignant killer.
Soon Marcus and Sandra notice the emergence of a disturbing pattern running alongside the latest killings – and every time they think they have grasped a fragment of the truth, they are led down yet another terrifying path.
A sensational new literary thriller from the bestselling author of The Whisperer, this novel captures the beautiful atmosphere of Rome and explores its dark and hidden secrets.”
4 of 5 stars
A young couple are brutally murdered in a remote setting. There are no clues and they were seemingly attacked at random. Police forensic analyst Sandra Vega believes that there is more to the scene and the murders than has been discovered. Her path crosses with Marcus, a Penitenzeri – a Vatican detective trained to detect evil. Together they are 0n a race against time to discover the identity of the Monster of Rome before he strikes again.
Having read Donato Carrisi’s first novel, The Whisperer I jumped at the chance to read his latest novel. I was aware that he writes mystery thrillers that travel along at break-neck speed, taking the reader on a race across Rome, to discover a killer, throwing red herrings and fantastic twists in on the way. I was not disappointed with The Hunter of the Dark.
This book soon gripped me and I found myself completely drawn into the story. The murders are horrific and Carrisi doesn’t shy away from that. Nor does he cushion revelations on other matters. This book is all about the evil that humans perpetrate upon each other and so tragic cases are mentioned to emphasis the point.
There is a back story between Sandra and Marcus, one that I wasn’t aware was covered in his second novel, The Lost Girls of Rome, which I have still yet to read. However, The Hunters of the Dark can be read and enjoyed without having read the first in the series. In fact its just made me want to go back and read it even more. Sandra and Marcus are both damaged characters, Sandra due to the death of her husband, which Marcus helped her with 3 years earlier. Marcus has deeper secrets, ones he doesn’t even recall. His memories only start from 3 years ago, just before he met Sandra. His training as a Penitenzeri is all down to his friend Clemente. He has no family, no other friends and is used to vanishing into the background. His true skill is he can feel evil. In effect he can put himself in the position of the killer, thereby gaining an idea as to intention and what drives the need to kill. This ability hints at what sort of person Marcus could have been before his memory loss. This is something that will no doubt continue through the series.
I enjoyed pitting my wits against Sandra and Marcus, deciphering the clues so I could deduce the killer before they did, that is after all part of the fun of reading crime fiction. There are conspiracy theories, corruption and cover ups to contend with. The story is based on the concept that without evil there can be no good and it is interesting how Carrisi deals with this and how little known aspects of the Catholic church are revealed. (Of course artistic licence is used but Carrisi has used real things, such as the Penitenzeri, as a base for his tale and he talks more about this at the end of the book.)
And of course there is Rome, a character all of her own. The modern city and the old merge and tell their own story. Having been to the Eternal City it was easy to imagine the scenes that emerged from the story. However the beauty of the book being set in Rome is that it is so iconic the places can easily evoked for those who haven’t been.
This is a fast-paced, gripping novel that has revelations, twists and turns galore. I can’t wait for the next book in the series but whilst I do I’ll go back and read The Lost Girls of Rome.