Donato Carrisi and the mysterious fascination of flushing out demons from the human soul


By John

A novel, black or white, is always an investigation around the “mystery man” according to Dostoevsky, and in the novels of Donato Carrisi, author of international bestsellers, translated into more than 30 languages ​​(all published by Longanesi with a sale of millions of copies), the investigation into the “mystery man” is all there, with a constant and deep excavation into the abyss of the psyche. Carrisi, from Puglia, law studies and specialization in Criminology and behavioral science, is also director and screenwriter of television series and cinema; indeed, after having started as a theater writer at the age of 19, it is precisely with fiction that he draws the attention of the general public. Then in 2009 his first novel, “The prompter”, winner of the Bancarella Award, and from there his journey into noir, mystery and thriller seems almost obligatory.

As a tireless observer of the human spectacle, Carrisi, who tomorrow he will be in Messina in a meeting organized by the Bonanzinga bookshopdeploys his creativity in inventing situations and compelling writing in suggesting atmospheres and weaving plots, as in “The house of lights” third novel in the trilogy of Pietro Gerber’s cycle.

Carrisi, who has won prestigious awards abroad such as the Prix Polar and the Prix Livre de Poche in France, and in Italy he received the David di Donatello award in 2018 as best new director with “The girl in the fog” from the homonymous novel , with Gerber invents a new fascinating character, a hypnotist, the best in Florence, who puts children to sleep to enter their minds and bring out hidden psychic contents. According to Gerber “the stories concerning children touch deeply even when they are invented” and for him who studies the anatomy of the psyche, despite his time rests on restlessness, when the case of Eva, a little girl who talks to an imaginary friend and lives alone with a housekeeper and an au pair in a large house in the hills, he persuades himself to follow her, although his reputation has long been in ruins and he lives in a solitude to which he has become accustomed, while he is struggling with his own demons.

Gerber’s complex character, since the first novel of the trilogy “The house of voices” (2019) which was followed by “The house without memories”; son of a fine psychiatrist, as a child he “died” for a few seconds, after a disastrous fall in the old family home, where “childhood memories seem to wait for him” when he goes there. House of carefree games of unrepeatable summers, but also linked to an obscure fact that marked him, a house where the scents of his mother, who died prematurely, essences of ghosts that hover in the rooms, join his ghosts.

In this cycle, which is striking for the presence in the titles, certainly not without reason, of the word “home” combined with “voices, memories and lights”, the hypnotist’s memories left in the past seem to re-emerge through Eva. Things from childhood float in the psyche and it seems to be the isolated girl without parents who enters the periphery of Gerber’s consciousness with a kind of Jungian active imagination. Eva seems to know many things about her childhood through her imaginary friend, but the hypnotist, although influenced, does not give in to this self-deception and sets her investigation into motion, dutiful albeit painful.

As in the other novels by Carrisi, in the cycle of Mila Vasquez and in that of Marcus and Sandra, the labyrinthine plots of which he is a very skilled weaver (and “The man of the labyrinth” is the title of the novel from which the homonymous film was based ), through deception, evil, mystery, the abyss, they seem to be ordinary reality, though in the Gerber cycle and especially in this last novel the plots seem to have dried upcleaner than the vertigo to which its readers have become accustomed.