Total Chaos – Jean-Claude Izzo review

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“None of us have known what to do with our lives. Cop or robber, it makes no difference”

A former colleague of mine and someone I have a lot of respect for as a real bookseller’s bookseller, is known for his healthy obsession with indie publishers and publisher themed tables. Not everyone within our ranks likes these displays but I find myself unable to keep my eyes of them and neither can customers. One of my favourites is the Europa Edition table because it instantly draws your eye with interesting covers that capture your imagination. I don’t do enough digging, when it comes to picking a book, and tend to go for the more mainstream option so it’s good to be shown something outside the top 100 every now and then. It was on this table, while I was browsing, that an elderly gentlemen tapped me on the shoulder and pointed to Total Chaos.

“That’s the one you want” He said and began to tell me that it was a book he keeps with him while traveling. I’m glad for your recommendation, sir…extremely glad

Total chaos follows Fabio Montale, a suburban-Marseille detective, who sees his two closest childhood friends die one-by-one in violent circumstances. One was killed without anyone knowing why; the other was killed immediately after assassinating one of the leaders of the local underworld. Montale tries to understand what happened and gradually discovers a tangle of interests and power struggles within the Marseilles underworld and police. Fabio is drawn by a promise the three friends made to watch out for one another no matter what feet he treads on or what rules they may break, this draws him into the dark heart of the city he lives in as he finds who wanted his friends dead.

I hope a mainstay of crime fiction will find a lot to enjoy here. Classic Noir themes and beautiful description and dialogue makes each page savoured, not just turned. The city itself comes to life as the dark corners and seedy bars invite you to know more. Luckily for me, and you if you decide to try this, there are two more books in the Marseilles trilogy and I can only hope they’re anywhere near as good as this one. I’m relatively new to the crime genre but in the past year of nearly solidly reading the likes of Rankin, MacDonald, Thompson and Nesbo, Izzo easily measures up. However I would describe him, compared to most crime I’ve read, as a glass of red wine in amongst tumbler’s of whiskey. He’s dark as the best of them, but the way in which he wrote gives you a much smoother experience.  Izzo’s writing to some can be style over substance but Fabio’s thoughts at times are just as interesting as the case itself.

The Marseilles Trilogy is published by Europa Editions as part of their World Noir series

JEAN-CLAUDE IZZO was born in Marseilles, France, in 1945. He achieved immediate success with his Marseilles Trilogy. His two other novels (The Lost Mariners and The Sun of the Dying) and one collection of short stories (Living Tires) also continue to enjoy popularity with both critics and the public. Izzo died in 2000 at the age of fifty-five.

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One response to “Total Chaos – Jean-Claude Izzo review

  1. Pingback: James Crumley – The Last Good Kiss | europaoutlaw

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