Bred To Kill
A novel by Franck Thilliez
Book review by Jules Brenner
Viking, released 1/8/15, 384 pp., $27.95
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As police procedurals and crime novels go, this one's a horror story. Leave it to Franck Thiellez ("Syndrome E") to connect vicious criminality to science, to a backstory romance and to his compelling Parisian lawman who entwines himself in the extremes of mental derangement.

Graduate student Eva Louts is a determined and earnest doctoral researcher in Paris working on a thesis. Its subject started out as the major principles of biological evolution until she began focusing on hand-dominance in humans -- in particular, her theory that the combination of left-handedness, lactose intolerance and a mother who died in childbirth predicts or identifies a person destined to be a violent criminal, or one who is already acting on his criminal urges. Born to kill, as it were.

But, these would be no ordinary or run-of-the-mill killers. They would have the desire to perform outrageous acts upon their fellow man, acts of barbaric torture and pain; their acts planned, not coincidentally provoked.

In her single-mindedness to do anything and go anywhere to substantiate the proposition she loses sight of to whom her inquiries may lead.

Which may well explain why she's found dead inside a gorilla cage in a primate research center where she was assigned by her thesis adviser, sprawled in the straw, blood having spilled from the back of her skull, a bite mark on her face that seems to have been made by a large gorilla. Behind her is the rightful occupant of the cage: a large chimpanzee named Shery huddled in the back, her arms and feet covered in blood, part of the tableau.

Did her killer stage the bizarre spectacle thinking seriously that it would implicate this animal, known to her keeper for 30 years and the center's mascot?

That's a question facing Detective Franck Sharko, second in command in a group of four policeman sent by their chief at the Paris Homicide Squad. He isn't exactly into DNA, genetics or any theoretical science having to do with the brutality of human monsters, but he recognizes the work of a sociopath when he sees it.

That kind of animal brings up one Gregory Carnot who might well fit Eva's profile, having slaughtered one of his ex-partner's daughters. But Carnot's been serving a 30-year sentence. So, no, this can't be his work. And, besides, he's found dead in his cell in a manner that might disgust you.

The horror of losing a child, doubled and redoubled when it's by the hand of a madman, is something Sharko shared with Lucie before she quit the profession she loved because of her grief and need to protect her surviving child. Sharko, too, had lost his little girl, which only partly explains why their unspoken bond survives despite the separation. The other part is the seed of an emotional connection they both felt before her departure.

Soon, with his understated steadiness and natural intuition, he manages to arouse Lucie to help in this investigation of Lout's travels. The disappearance of a Cro-Magnon gorilla exhibit leads eventually to a primitive tribe hidden in the forests of the Amazon region of Brazil, which Louts had visited for her study and which may well have brought her to the attention of her killer!

In this episode in the lives of Franck and Lucie, changes are afoot that add a releaving emotional core to the eerie mysteries being chased down even as the pair take liberties with the limits of what their profession allows.

Thillez, who grants his hero his own first name, brings us to the far edges of man's inhumanity to man with an original concept to produce a steady injection of thrills. "Bred To Kill is his sequel to "Syndrome E".

If you don't yet own Bred To Kill and would like to purchase it (usually at a sizable discount), click here.