Brigitte Aubert, Rigor Mortis. 1997. Le Monde n° 16333, samedi 2 août 1997. Pp. 43. (Reprinted in anthologie Histoires à lire: sept nouvelles, Ed. France Loisirs, Paris, mai 2000.)

Reviewed by Djibril

This novella is one of the darkest short psychological crime thrillers I have read in a long time, and while probably not easy to find, is worth catching if you can pick it up (and you can read French). The story takes you inside the head of a serial killer with necrophiliac tendencies, putting the reader far closer to the criminally insane mind than is comfortable. The police investigation, on the other hand, is shown only through telephone calls and conversations with a journalist, and frankly the investigating officers do not seem to be learning very much.

Even more disconcerting than this is the fact that the killer is not a monster: he is very much human, and not even particularly unpleasant a character—although he can lose his temper violently when he doesn't exactly get his way, giving us a hint of the desperate control-freak behind the madman. But if you accept his world-view (twisted as it is) then he is basically moral, acting out of loneliness and desire—which he calls love. Like the killer in C'est arrivé près de chez vous (1998), he can be funny and almost likeable.

It is hard to say more without spoiling the story, except to recommend this dark, frightening and convincing thriller—if you have the stomach for it.

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