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Saint-Martin-de-Comminges is a small town nestled in the French Pyrenees. The kind of place where winters are harsh and unforgiving and where nothing ever happens.
Until the winter morning when a group of workers discover the headless, flayed body of a horse, hanging suspended from the edge of a frozen cliff.
On the same day the gruesome discovery takes place, Diane Berg, a young psychiatrist starts her first job at a high-security asylum for the criminally insane, just a few miles away. She is baffled by the slightly unorthodox methods the asylum's director uses, and then greatly alarmed when she realizes that drugs are disappearing from within the fortified institution while someone seems to be slipping out at night.
Commandant Martin Servaz, a charismatic city cop from nearby Toulouse fond of quoting Latin, can't believe he has been called out over the death of an animal. But there's something disturbing about this crime that he can't ignore. Then DNA from one of the most notorious inmates of the asylum, a highly intelligent former prosecutor, accused of killing and raping several women, is found on the horse carcass . . . and a few days later the first human murder takes place.
A dark story of madness and revenge seems to be unfolding. Servaz and his colleague, the mysterious Irene Ziegler, must use all their skill to solve the terrifying mystery and best one of the most fiendish and clever opponents they could ever imagine.
French author Minier's assured debut adroitly combines a genuinely creepy series of crimes, a literally chilling atmosphere, and a dogged detective. Commandant Martin Servaz, of the regional crime unit in Toulouse, is annoyed to be pulled off the sadistic murder of a homeless man for a case that doesn't even involve homicide. The mutilated and beheaded corpse of a horse was left suspended at a cable car terminus, terrifying the workers at a water power plant that the tram services. The horse belonged to ultrawealthy Eric Lombard, who owns the plant and has companies all around the world, as well as friends in high places. A nearby psychiatric institution specializes in the treatment of extremely dangerous murderers, including a Hannibal Lecter like sociopath, but the asylum's security measures make it impossible for any of the patients to escape. Minier's execution equals his considerable cleverness.