Thursday, 30 October 2014

Train d'enfer pour ange rouge and Deuils de miel by Franck Thilliez

Pocket (Nov. 4 2013)
832 pages - 17.95 $

A little extra for this book which has two books inside, bought at the Quais du Polar festival in Lyon this year and signed by Franck... Brilliant! This book is the first in the series with Franck Sharko and explains Eugenie's presence, which had me a little disoriented reading Syndrome E. Ideally, one should therefore start with this book to discover Sharko, in absolute terms, it is not that bad because the discovery of his story afterwards do not detract from the pleasure of reading his adventures. I don't think it's already translated in English thoughj (a shame indeed) but let's hope they'll be!

The back cover announces that: 

Launched at a breakneck or approaching silently, death walks on the bloody track. Lille, Paris suburb... Terminus. One way for criminal insanity. Commissioner Sharko does not travel light. At each stop: death. Slow. Brutal. Barbarian. Gathered here for the first time, his first two investigation in the heart of darkness, where honey and tears have the bitterness of spilled blood. 

But what are the stories? (It's my own translation, so it might not be like that in the English version)

Hell Train for Red Angel 

A corpse is found by the police near Paris. The victim was decapitated, her eyes gouged out and placed in their orbit, members suspended by hooks... Commissioner Franck Sharko is responsible for the investigation. This murder interests him especially as his wife, Suzanne, disappeared 6 months ago and she could be, right now, in the hands of the same kind of madman. Soon indices are sent directly by the murderer to Sharko, by email and on his laptop... The killer is close. He knows that Frank is helped by a profiler and a pro IT with his investigation. Another body of a woman who died of her wounds is found in a disused slaughterhouses, horribly tortured and whose agony was filmed for months. From the SM Parisian clubs to the very closed environment of French porn king, Sharko traces the killer who is always one step ahead... 

Mourning of honey

One year after the tragic death of his wife and daughter, the Commissioner Sharko is back in service for a strange case: in the Church of Issy les Moulineaux, a woman fully shaved is found dead, butterflies on the skull. A cryptic message carved in a stone guide Sharko to other atrocities and murders increasingly wild. Despite his open wound and visible addiction to various substances, Sharko embarks on the trail of what looks more and more like a serial killer. The more he advances in the investigation, the more he realizes he must stem the tide as soon as possible. Completely exhausted, he must also deal with the nocturnal visits of a little girl who seems to have supernatural powers... 

What's good about them?

It has been rightfully said that "with Thilliez, it's safe." And indeed, you'll get your thrill, travel, horror and so on. These books are not really for the faint hearted. It's very far from the Victorian novel! Here, there is blood, bodies torn, cut, rotting: that's hardcore!. The horror of the killings is particularly distressing as Sharko's wife is missing (in the first book) and we can't help, as Sharko, to draw a parallel between the victims and her, fearing that she's living the same thing. Franck faces a particularly diabolical killer who's closed to him. 

I won't spoiled anything by speaking about Sharko's wife's death as it's written in the second book blurb that is even more tortured. Frank loses it and not a little. We follow him as he goes down (literally) into hell, always with the most atrocious crimes and the arrival of characters as endearing  as strange. 

One thing is certain, you will be taken by these two books which suspense won't stop till the end, with an super endearing cop - that we learn to like with his strengths and especially his weaknesses - with two very well-crafted and fast-paced stories and, as always, Thilliez's attention to detail, well explained, his extensive research on various topics he serves us on a silver platter because it must be said, he's the champion of popularisation! His novels are based on a subject slightly more complicated or unknown and he makes it all very easy to understand. I especially like learning new things while reading and with him, it's coming up! 

Two small problems have hampered my reading though which surprised me even more as I had not had that feeling with his other books, but this slight annoyance disappeared along my reading (or I got used to it... go figure!) Almost all descriptions are metaphors and other figures of speech, which I think is perfectly suited to the literary novel, but a little less in a thriller, where I expect a little more nervous writing in connection with the story. But then again, it might just be a cause of "too much is like too less". And I find the ellipsis in dialogue series so-so. Just tell me the character is out of breath, exhausted, hesitating, etc. I... I do not... need to... put the... "..." all the time... to force me to... make a... pause... 

In a nutshell 

Two excellent books to devour, not to put in all hands for a descent into the Parisian underworld, a sprinkling of religion and voodoo à la arachnid sauce, it's a 4/5 for me.

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