Syndrome E ~ Franck Thilliez

syndromee Film enthusiast, Ludovic, purchases a number of films at an estate sale. One of the films is unmarked and Ludovic hopes that it will be a rare find. After watching the film in his home theater, Ludovic finds that he has gone blind. He grabs his phone and calls the first person he can and as luck would have it he manages to call his ex-girlfriend and police officer Lucie Hennebelle.

Hennebelle begins investigating the mystery of the film which turns out to be a very disturbing piece from the 1950s. Her investigation leads her to cross paths with Inspector Franck Sharko. Sharko is a schizophrenic who has managed to maintain his career in the police force by becoming a psychological profiler. He is assigned to investigate a case in which five victims were discovered at a construction site. Each victim has had his head sawed open his brain removed as well as his eyes, teeth and hands leaving no means to trace their identity. Hennebelle and Sharko find themselves racing to find the connection between the mystery film and the murders with a number of other bodies piling up along the way.

I have to admit at the outset that I don’t read many thrillers, but I was drawn into this book and couldn’t put it down. It was dark, disturbing and fast-paced. Some readers may be interested by the psychological elements whether it’s Sharko’s schizophrenia and how he deals with it while on the job or the psychology behind the film and the motives of the killer. I enjoyed all the information about film and film history. There is a section in which an expert determines where and when the film was made that I found fascinating.

Sharko and Hennebelle are great characters and they work well together despite some tension. There are many twists and turns. conspiracy theories and an ending I just didn’t see coming even though the seeds were planted throughout the story. Like many readers I wonder why this book which is very popular in Europe has not taken off here in the States. I highly recommend it to anyone interested in psychological thrillers.


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