A man obtains an unidentified film from the estate of a collector and is struck blind in the middle of watching it. His ex-lover, detective Lucie Henebelle, who gets him to the hospital, begins investigating the images hidden in the film and a lead indicates that there is a connection to five corpses that were recently uncovered at a construction site. Henebelle joins forces with Inspector Franck Sharko, who is meant to be functioning as a behavioral analyst but who can't seem to stop hitting the streets for investigations himself, to discover the truth behind a case that stretched from Canada to Cairo and spanned over fifty years.
This is a wonderfully disturbing book. Initially I was more invested in the parts involving the film than in the parts involving the bodies, primarily because mutilated corpses are a dime a dozen in crime novels but subliminal marketing techniques are original. But as the plot unfolds and the various threads are linked to each other, the connections feel legitimate and unforced, even if on one occasion somebody does rather conveniently appear out of the blue to tell one of our protagonists all of the useful information they know. Overall, though, this is a well executed thriller that ventures into dark territories of the mind.
(I feel like I should add one caveat: Sharko has schizophrena. He's on medication, but he still has hallucinations, in particular of a woman called Eugenie. Eugenie goes away through means that I doubt are medically recommended. He reflects after she vanishes that he's still a schizophrenic and will be on medication for the rest of my life, which reassures me somewhat that he's not meant to have been magically cured, but I remain a bit cautious until I see if Thilliez continues to address this or if the schizophrenia is simply dropped.)
Syndrome E will be available April 29.