The classic police procedural meets cutting-edge science in this huge international best seller. Already a runaway bestseller in France, Syndrome E tells the story of beleaguered detective Lucie Henebelle, whose old friend has developed a case of spontaneous blindness after watching an extremely rare—and violent—film from the 1950s. Embedded in the film are subliminal images so unspeakably heinous that Lucie realizes she must get to the bottom of it—especially when nearly everyone who comes into contact with the film starts turning up dead.
Enlisting the help of Inspector Franck Sharko—a brooding, broken analyst for the Paris police who is exploring the film’s connection to five murdered men left in the woods—Lucie begins to strip away the layers of what is perhaps the most disturbing and powerful film ever made. Soon Sharko and Lucie find themselves mired in a darkness that spreads across politics, religion, science, and art while stretching from France to Canada, Egypt to Rwanda, and beyond. And just who is responsible for this darkness will blow listeners’ minds, as Syndrome E forces them to consider: What if the earliest and most brilliant advances and discoveries of neuroscience were not used for good but for evil?
With this taut US debut, Thilliez explores the origins of violence through cutting-edge and popular science in a breakneck thriller rich with shocking plot twists and profound questions about the nature of humanity.
Franck Thilliez is the author of several best-selling novels in his native France. Syndrome E is his first novel to be translated into English in the United States.
©2010 Editions Fleuve Noir, Department d’Univers Poche. Translation 2012 by Mark Polizzotti. (P)2012 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
“Blending science and neurology into the intrigue of his excellent thriller, Thilliez takes us into the maze of the human brain, with all the evils it can unleash.” (Elle, Paris)
“A tour de force…. A captivating plot that keeps the reader in his seat until the final moments.” (Le Monde)
“Franck Thilliez leads his story like a beating drum, multiplying the reverberations without ever losing track of the psychological development of his characters…A reflection on the origins of violence that is as playful as it is erudite. Essential reading!" (Metro, Paris)
I can find a book to love in any genre -- a beautifully written classic, an interesting mystery or sci-fi, a trashy romance. Bring it!
STORY (mystery) - Syndrome E is an enjoyable book, but not something you want to listen to as you're trying to fall asleep! As the summary suggests, it's based around a violent film containing subliminal images which cause strange behavior in others. A young female cop and an older male detective work together to solve the mystery of the film and the murders it has inspired. Most of the story takes place in France and Belgium, but there are trips to Canada and Egypt to follow leads. There are scenes in the film which are gruesome, and there are mutilations involved with the murders. I wouldn't have been able to listen to these murders as they occurred but, thankfully, they are all described after the fact with just a brief description of the atrocities.
The final solution to the mystery of the film is interesting but it's pretty far-fetched. I still had questions left unanswered in the end, and I'm not sure if the story is to blame or the fact that I was only able to listen to it in lots of short, disjointed sessions.
PERFORMANCE - The narrator is male with what I would call a French accent. His voice is very low, which I think works perfectly with the sinister plot of this book.
OVERALL (actual rating 3.5) - I would recommend this for mature men/women who might find psychological manipulation interesting and are fine with violent scenes. There's a teeny bit of romance and even a teenier bit of sex. Oh, and a small amount of profanity.
Mobile and Web developer, Audible member since 2004. Trend towards mystery-thrillers just for fun, but read most everything of substance (i.e. no romances here).
Stunning book with a unique plot that manages to tie-in film history and neurology. Incredibly entertaining with one of the most unique main characters I've ever encountered. Bizarre and graphic, yet genuinely touching. A book that, while somewhat far-fetched, also rings true...very-much like life. Highly recommend.
music nut, history buff
The fast pace and the technical details. Wow, it was shocking and frightening.
The clues and the way you learn about the intricacies of film-making, as well as psychology.
The one where they start to take apart the strange film and see what's hidden in it.
It was intensely frightening. The story plays almost like a horror movie, more than a crime story.
I hope they make this into a real film. It would be as much fun to watch it as it is to read or hear.
I like Jack Reacher style characters regardless of setting. Put them in outer space, in modern America, in a military setting, on an alien planet... no worries. Book has non moralistic vigilante-justice? Sign me up! (oh, I read urban fantasy, soft and hard sci-fi, trashy vampire and zombie novels too)
I got this book on sale and had no idea that it was part of a series, but after some investigation, it turns out that it is: this makes more sense... Sharko did not feel like a 'new' character here, and I kinda wish I had read the back stories before this one.
That being said, I really enjoyed the tone (dark), the vigilante-feel, and the flawed characters in this book. The first part of the book is better than the latter (and final) parts of the book. The pacing changed from an un-folding story to a 'lecture-style' exposé. And the vigilante component just goes away. In fact, the resolution of the story is based on the description of events by several 3rd parties (some of whom are added in at the last minute) rather than by the detectives discovering clues that lead to the resolution. And I think there are a few too many characters... some just popping in long enough to set the stage for the next scene, and then they disappear (or are killed) .
Originally, I hadn't realized that it was a translated book, but even that makes more sense now - some of the wording is, ahh... heavier ... than it would be in a North American written novel. And the settings and travel methods are definitely European.
I am actually going to go read the previous books in the series now... I really like Sharko as a main character - he is so different from the usual detective.
The narration is very good and there is no graphic violence or sex in the novel.
... But not great either. Syndrome E is a passable thriller. The characters are sufficiently well-developed and the narrative is satisfactorily engaging. The science, however, is thin and stretches credulity well past the breaking point-- a serious shortcoming for a techno thriller.
This is a flawed story -- a few too many "revelations" after an enjoyably suspenseful set-up, and a contrived romantic subplot do not help. But the ride is a lot of fun, and the narration is brilliant -- Mr. Jackson transports the reader to Europe and really heightens the tension.
Tell us about yourself! I love to escape into a good book.
I think we can stand to have another take on films that kill (The Ring).
An interesting thriller that will keep you listening to the end.
Gildart Jackson as the narrator goes a little over the top with some of his accents.
I enjoyed this much better than Gone Girl. Its a lot darker.
If they are into mysteries, yes. Not sure if the plot made sense at times and it was hard to see how everything connected in the end, but it is a unique plot.
It had a lot of twists and turns and I wanted to see how the different plot strands tied together at the conclusion. Alas, for me, it wasn't done to my complete satisfaction.
Can't really think what he did do, but I know what he didn't do: he didn't take me out of the story. In other words, I never really thought about the narrator as I was listening, which is a good thing. Too many times, with other narrators, I find myself annoyed at a voice they adopt for a character or a too dramatic tone they take when describing something.
This is a French thriller, in the vein of Stieg Larsson or Dan Brown. The story has the twists and turns Dan Brown is known for but is quite dark, similar to Larsson's Millennium books. Gildart Jackson's narration was excellent. With plenty of range and emotion, Jackson captures the characters superbly. I found the cliff hanger ending a little frustrating, but only because the other books in the series are not yet available in English.
I think this was worth listening too, and certainly touched on some disturbing and eye-opening subject matter. There were parts that didn't quite work for me, and (spoiler alert) there's a bit of cliff hanger at the end which i found cheap and unnecessary, but there was also lot i enjoyed, so in all, as i said above, it was worth the listen.
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