Bred to Kill by Franck Thilliez (Viking, Jan. 8th, 2015)-Franck Thilliez’s Syndrome E snuck up on me and blew me away. It’s everything that’s good about suspense and offers creeps that I usually only see in supernatural tales. And it’s not supernatural, but it gives you that thrill of the unknown, just outside your field of vision. Obviously, I thought it was awesome, so Bred to Kill had a LOT to live up to. I shouldn’t have worried. Syndrome E left off on a shocking note, and I’m not going to tell you what that is, because spoilers. Suffice it to say it’s a huge part of Bred to Kill and leads to some equally shocking revelations in the third act.
This is a book chock full of shocking revelations, though, so strap in. Paris Inspector Franck Sharko (who took a demotion to get back into the down and dirty of homicide), catches an unusual case. Primate researcher Eva Louts is dead, supposedly attacked by a chimpanzee named Shery who is able to communicate via ALS. However, Shery’s handler is convinced that Shery had nothing to do with Louts’s death, and as Sharko starts to investigate, it’s equally obvious to him that she didn’t. Who would have staged such a brutally elaborate scene and committed such a gruesome murder? Eva Louts’s trail eventually leads back to former cop Lucie Henebelle, who Sharko hasn’t seen in quite a while and whose very presence dredges up painful memories, but she’s determined to help, and in spite of his misgivings, Sharko lets her. Their investigation leads them to the very heart of evil as they discover ties to natural selection, and indeed, the very origins of evil. There is so much to love here: a truly puzzling series of murders, a 30,000 year old crime scene (!!!), more science than you can shake a stick at, and a human element that elevates an already superior book above the rest of the pack. The final sequence in the Amazon jungle is terrifying, and something on par with Heart of Darkness (or, perhaps, Apocalypse Now). This is a very scary, impeccably plotted book, and it’s how suspense should be done. I’ll read anything Franck Thilliez writes.