Review: The Empire of the Wolves by Jean-Christophe Grange

The Empire of the Wolves
Jean-Christophe Grangé
HarperCollins, 2006
ISBN 006057366X
Trade Paperback

The Empire of the Wolves is a French thriller by John Christophe Grange, who is a former French reporter with two prior novels to his credit.  The story’s a complex and gritty tale with a strong Parisian voice. While this book is not the blood pressure raising heart pounder we are used to from American authors, the protagonist’s plight will keep you turning pages.

Anna Heymes is the wife of a prominent Parisian policeman with a serious neurological disorder.  She cannot remember her husband’s face.  Her husband’s taken her to the top neurologist and the verdict is she needs a brain biopsy. She hasn’t told everything, though.  While her husband is growing strange to her, the faces of people who claim to have never met her are very familiar. When she discovers plastic surgery scars along her hairline, she escapes her spouse and sets out to try and solve the mystery on her own.

Paul Nerteaux is a Paris detective who’s tasked to investigate the serial killings of three illegal Turkish seamstresses.  These three young women have been tortured in a unique and grisly fashion leaving their faces destroyed and their internal organs damaged. He discovers the case isn’t actually a serial murder per se, but a serial torture. The ‘wolves’, a Turkish organized crime syndicate, are seeking a young seamstress with information they need.

Note:  If you are uncomfortable with graphic depictions of violence towards women, this may not be a book you will choose to read.  I am not easily sickened, but part of the content of the autopsy of the female victims disturbed and sickened me.  This is the only particularly disturbing scene in this book, but I do think readers should be advised.

Reviewed by Rebecca Kyle.