In French author Minier’s The Frozen Dead, Toulouse police commandant Martin Servaz must discover how and why a decapitated horse ended up hanging from a cable car platform.
Where did the decapitated horse come from?
The idea of the horse was born out of a sort of challenge I set for both myself and for readers (and maybe for publishers). I wanted my opening to be a way of telling readers that after such an unexpected opening, anything was possible in the book that they were about to read.
How about the hydro-electric plant 6,500 ft up and carved over 200 ft into the rock of the Pyrenees mountains?
I saw a news story about a place like this on French TV—a fascinating spot: dreadful, hostile, and completely out of the ordinary, almost like science fiction.
And you grew up near such a place?
Yes. I set my plot and characters in southwestern France, at the foot of the Pyrenees and near the city of Toulouse, and I developed this geography and setting and all its defining features as if it were another character. Doesn’t it seem like the more we dig deeply in our own backyards, the better chance we have of achieving something that is a bit universal?
Is it fair to say that you were influenced by Silence of the Lambs?
Yes and no. Julian Hirtmann, the serial killer, is clearly an homage to Thomas Harris’s archetypal character. Silence of the Lambs is obviously a modern version of the fairy tale “Beauty and the Beast,” which is, itself, a reinterpretation of the tale of Cupid and Psyche. The relationship between the psychiatrist Diane Berg, a young, innocent woman still discovering her profession, and Hirtmann also draws from folktales. One mustn’t forget that Lecter also had predecessors, such as Professor Moriarty, one of the first supervillains of crime, whom Sherlock Holmes described as a man of excellent education, prodigiously gifted at math, who appeared to be on the verge of a brilliant career, but who was also a sort of monster, with criminal instincts all the more dangerous when combined with exceptional intelligence.
How do your characters differ from Harris’s?
My world, my influences, and my approach are different, and, therefore, so is the end result. Unlike Lecter, Hirtmann is not a supervillain, just like Servaz is not a supercop. Hirtmann is certainly brilliant, cultivated, and dangerous, but he’s also not entirely in control of himself. With him and Servaz, I tried to develop two complex but credible human beings, similar to you and me and in direct contact with current political and social realities.