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COLD blooded crimes


(Nouveau Monde Editions, 176 pages, 2018)


Cold Blooded Crimes is an anthology of ten short stories by best-selling authors in French crime fiction: Franck Thilliez, Caryl Férey, Olivier Truc, Marcus Malte, Olivier Norek, Ian Manook, Dominique Manotti, Danielle Thiéry, Hervé Le Corre, and Sandrine Collette. Whether it involves serial killers, acts of revenge, or a compulsive need to kill, this fine collection offers a range of crime stories from thriller to noir.

In “I Would Rather Kill Before the End of the Movie,” Franck Thilliez follows a cop out for revenge after his chief humiliates him. He plans to present to the chief with an unsolvable case just as he is about to retire, leaving a stain on the chief’s perfect record of solved cases and bruising the arrogant man’s pride. He conjures the perfect crime: a random act with no motive, a random victim, a solid alibi, and a disguise. As he rings the victim’s doorbell, he savagely beats her with a bat. But the beating isn’t fatal, and the young woman screams for help and runs. He chases her into the house, where she had been on FaceTime with her boyfriend. He then smashes the computer and finally kills her, leaving a pool of blood, and flees the scene. As he eliminates the evidence, he receives a call from a colleague—as predicted—describing to him a grisly murder that just happened. When the cop reaches the crime scene, he hears his chief, obviously shaken, saying that he will do anything to find the criminal who killed . . . his daughter.

Hervé Le Corre conducts an unforgiving investigation of guilt in “Itching.” The unnamed protagonist recounts the day that Élodie, his daughter’s dance teacher, is reported missing. He comes home with a bandage around his arm and an uncontrollable itch. Explaining the injury, he tells his wife, Marion, a car hit him while he rode his bike, but he hesitates in suing the driver. Marion suspects that he is lying and pressures him, making him feel uncomfortable to the point of fainting. When they announce that Élodie is missing, he helps the police search for her, and when they find her corpse, the narrator cannot stop thinking about the day before in the forest, where he raped Élodie—an impulsive act of frustration. She tried to escape, and he had no choice but to strangle her to death. After the police find the body, the look on Marion’s face leaves no doubt that she knows; she mentions that her friend knows the police are looking for DNA under the victim’s nails as she struggled against her assaulter. She accusingly asks him if he would like her to change his bandage. He answers positively, for the itching is just unbearable.

In Cold Blooded Crimes, each author and short story explores a different world, using various motives and weapons that create a palpable tension and keep the reader up at night.