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TOTAL CHAOS by Jean-Claude Izzo Kirkus Star


by Jean-Claude Izzo & translated by Howard Curtis

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 2005
ISBN: 1-933372-04-4
Publisher: Europa Editions

Ten years after its success in France, the first installment of Izzo’s ultra-noir Marseilles trilogy finally arrives in English translation.

Pierre Ugolini returned to Marseilles to avenge his murdered friend Manu by killing old gangster Charles Zucca, even though it meant dying himself. Now it’s police detective Fabio Montale’s job to get to the bottom of Ugo’s death. It’s more than a job for Fabio, since his friendship with Ugo and Lole, the hostess who loved them both, goes back to their childhood, in the days before they got involved with petty criminals. After Fabio climbed out of the morass by enlisting in the army, Ugo climbed the ladder to serious crime. Recognizing that his force is riddled with corruption, Fabio goes outside the law and works on his own to round up the criminals whose murderous activity is just getting underway. What’s distinctive and fascinating about this case is that everybody else is doing the same. Izzo’s Marseilles is crowded with prostitutes, enforcers, agitators and hit men, all of them bent on going independent. The result is a reeking stew whose every sight, sound and smell Izzo captures with gusto, even though you can’t tell the heroes from the villains without a scorecard.

For better or worse, the title of this melancholy, high-energy bloodbath is just perfect. One can only wonder what new atrocities are left for the second and third installments, both due next year.