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Syndrome E | [Franck Thilliez, Mark Polizzotti (translator)]

Syndrome E

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.
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Publisher's Summary

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.

What the Critics Say

“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)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.0 (96 )
5 star
 (34)
4 star
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3 star
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2 star
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Overall
4.0 (86 )
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2 star
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1 star
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Story
4.2 (86 )
5 star
 (34)
4 star
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3 star
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2 star
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1 star
 (1)
Performance
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  •  
    Just Jen Kansas City, MO 10-01-12
    Just Jen Kansas City, MO 10-01-12 Member Since 2004

    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).

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Unique and entertaining, an absolute must."

    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.

    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Chris Sydney 08-22-12
    Chris Sydney 08-22-12 Member Since 2012

    Tell us about yourself! I love to escape into a good book.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    91
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    Story
    "Subliminal Manipulation"

    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.

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lawrence Greensboro, NC, United States 04-18-13
    Lawrence Greensboro, NC, United States 04-18-13 Member Since 2003
    HELPFUL VOTES
    137
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    "Not Bad ..."

    ... 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.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Donna Port Richey, FL, United States 11-03-12
    Donna Port Richey, FL, United States 11-03-12 Member Since 2011

    music nut, history buff

    HELPFUL VOTES
    5
    ratings
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    "Good gravy, this is scary"
    What made the experience of listening to Syndrome E the most enjoyable?

    The fast pace and the technical details. Wow, it was shocking and frightening.


    What did you like best about this story?

    The clues and the way you learn about the intricacies of film-making, as well as psychology.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    The one where they start to take apart the strange film and see what's hidden in it.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    It was intensely frightening. The story plays almost like a horror movie, more than a crime story.


    Any additional comments?

    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.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    lrc3395 08-20-14
    lrc3395 08-20-14 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
    2
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    11
    7
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    "Creepy French thriller"
    Which character – as performed by Gildart Jackson – was your favorite?

    Sharko


    Any additional comments?

    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.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    John NJ, United States 01-27-14
    John NJ, United States 01-27-14 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Good, not great"

    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.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    crazybatcow East Coast, Canada 07-21-14
    crazybatcow East Coast, Canada 07-21-14 Member Since 2007

    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)

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Strong beginning, peters out before it concludes."

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Regina Norman, OK, United States 10-16-13
    Regina Norman, OK, United States 10-16-13 Member Since 2010
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    "good idea but poor execution"
    Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

    No, lost interest.


    Would you be willing to try another book from Franck Thilliez and Mark Polizzotti (translator) ? Why or why not?

    No maybe it lost interest in the translation.


    How could the performance have been better?

    maybe the translation was poor it just did not keep my interest.


    Could you see Syndrome E being made into a movie or a TV series? Who should the stars be?

    There are times when a film is much better than the written word maybe this is one of these times. Perhaps there is someone other than I who can see this book as a film and they can choose the cast.


    Any additional comments?

    no

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    David Fogelsville, PA, United States 10-11-13
    David Fogelsville, PA, United States 10-11-13 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Neuropsycho detective procedural"

    Well written story line and character development, tying in real historical events and modern places. Conspiracy theorists and film buffs will enjoy. Given the events of late 2010 and forward, the book is starting to be a little dated.

    One thing bothered me: the translation was obviously for an American audience, using Fahrenheit and miles (with one kilogram exception). Since the action all takes place in metric countries, why not just stay with that?

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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