cover image Bred to Kill

Bred to Kill

Franck Thilliez, trans. from the French by Mark Polizzotti. Viking, $27.95 (384p) ISBN 978-0-670-02597-8

French author Thilliez’s exceptional thriller, a sequel to 2012’s Syndrome E, poses a chilling question: what if a “violence gene” passed down from prehistoric man has concealed itself in human DNA and periodically churns out a serial killer or another person capable of extraordinary brutality? The action is again set in and around Paris, where doctoral researcher Eva Louts is found dead inside a gorilla cage at a primate research center. Homicide inspector Franck Sharko and former detective Lucie Henebelle—both haunted by past personal tragedies—quickly determine that Louts had recently been researching violent criminals who all had an identical set of characteristics: left-handedness, lactose intolerance, and a mother who died in childbirth. Also tied into the case are the recent theft of a 42,000-year-old Cro-Magnon mummy and the existence of a primitive jungle tribe that lives deep within Brazil’s Amazon region. Aside from the occasional genetics lecture that slows the action, this shines as a thought-provoking, brilliant piece of speculative fiction. Thilliez plumbs humanity’s dark side without relying on familiar conventions of plot and character. Agent: Aurélie Laure, Univers Poche. (Jan.)