Book Review: Syndrome E

Syndrome E by Franck Thilliez

Detective Lucie Hennebelle hears from an old boyfriend who has suddenly gone blind after watching an old, violent film with a mysterious past. As Lucie investigates the film, she discovers terrifying subliminal images embedded in the film. Suddenly, people who have come in contact with the film are being systematically and brutally murdered. And Lucie is in a race against time to track down any loose ends that may lead to the killers and their motive. Meanwhile, Inspector Franck Sharko is investigating the murder of five men whose bodies resemble a similar string of murders in Egypt years before.

This is a translated, international best seller from French author Franck Thilliez. The feel of the story was reminiscent of Lars Kepler’s recent novel The Hypnotist. A police procedural meets international thriller, the story is fast-paced and fascinating. The characters of Lucie and Sharko both have dark pasts and are jaded, but begin to find solace in each other. And of course, their investigations diverge quickly in the story, though the reason isn’t quite clear right away.

Dark and dramatic, Syndrome E delves into bizarre neuroscience that is often gruesome and violent. When the story began, I immediately thought of the horror movie, The Ring. But this isn’t paranormal horror, and of course isn’t as scary. Though, there is always a looming sense of danger and suspense that lingers till the surprising climactic ending. This was an enjoyable change of pace from what I normally read. Fans of The Hypnotist and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo should check out this new release.