Dimiter Review
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Unabridged Audiobook: 7 CDs (8 hours)
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Although author William Peter Blatty is best known for his chilling best-seller, The Exorcist—and his Oscar-winning screenplay for the movie adaptation (which, incidentally, is still the scariest movie I’ve ever seen)—his latest thriller, Dimiter, doesn’t involve any demon-possessed little girls. Instead, it’s a more subdued and thoughtful religious thriller—one that’s probably best experienced somewhere other than in your car.

The story begins in 1970s Albania. While tracking a murderer, police encounter a mysterious cheese merchant who carries the ID of a local man who’s actually been dead for several years. Suspected of being a foreign enemy, he’s taken into custody. He endures days of unspeakable torture without ever saying a word—and, eventually, he escapes.

The story then moves to Jerusalem, where a trio of characters find themselves in the middle of a series of strange deaths. Neurologist Dr. Moses Mayo is troubled by some of the strange things that have been happening at Hadassah Hospital lately, and he shares his concerns with his closest friends—quick-witted nurse Samia and troubled detective Peter Meral. But Meral gets caught up in a mysterious case of his own after an American secret agent is found dead in the middle of a religious landmark.

Dimiter is a tangled mystery that, for much of the book, seems to be telling two unrelated stories. The Albanian part and the part in Jerusalem seem so dissimilar—both in content and in tone—that readers might even begin wonder if the two were actually two separate novellas. They do, however, come together in the end—so it’s best to keep the first part in the back of your mind as you continue listening.

Blatty has crafted an intricate story, with interwoven storylines and a large cast of intriguing characters. It’s so intricate, though, that it’s often difficult to follow—especially if you happen to be listening while you’re doing something else (like driving). It’s a bit too easy to lose track of the details.

As narrator, meanwhile, Blatty has a hauntingly gravelly voice that—especially in the beginning—gives the story an eerie tone. Unfortunately, though, that deep, rasping voice can be somewhat droning and monotone at times—and listeners may find themselves lulled into a hazy, inattentive state. That may be a good way to unwind on the drive home from work (though not if it lulls you so much that it makes you forget that you’re driving)—but it’s not the best if you’re trying to absorb the story. Blatty’s vocal levels, too, tend to drop quite frequently—which meant that I had to keep adjusting the volume on my car stereo so I could hear him.

Between Blatty’s narration and the story’s complexities, Dimiter is a difficult audiobook to follow. It is, however, an interesting mystery—one that could still be worth a read. But if you do decide to pick it up, go with the print version instead.

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