I Kill by Giorgio Faletti
|I Kill by Giorgio Faletti|
|Reviewer: Kerry King|
|Summary: First published in Italy – in Italian - in 2002, I Kill is the debut novel from the singer/songwriter/actor/TV comedian Giorgio Faletti and charts a series of grotesque murders set in super-glam Monte Carlo, in which the victims' faces are entirely removed by a man who, enigmatically, calls himself No One.|
|Buy? Maybe||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 624||Date: June 2010|
Monte Carlo: not generally a place associated with moderation and temperance of any kind and therefore probably the perfect setting for a killing spree by a serial killer with a particular fetish for extreme souvenir gathering.
Enter FBI Agent, Frank Ottobre, who is visiting his compatriot and friend, Police Commissioner of the Principality, Nicolas Hulot - a stop-over Ottobre would probably be enjoying were it not for the very recent death of his wife. The sudden, gruesome slaying of an American racing-car driver and his chess Grand Master girlfriend spurs the grieving Ottobre into action and within hours, he and Hulot are drawn into a catch-me-if-you-can quest for a self-proclaimed serial killer, who calls himself No One, who scrawls the words I Kill, in blood, at the scenes of his crimes.
By means of a string of announcements made via the local radio station, using their quasi-celeb DJ, Jean-Loup Verdier as a macabre emcee, the killer taunts police prior to each murder, hinting as to the identity of his next victim and leaving tantalising but baffling musical clues. With a mounting body count, Ottobre and Hulot are in a life or death race to catch this killer before he can strike again.
In a cast of many, Ottobre and Hulot are helped and hindered in equal measure. Will Ottobre and his trusty comrade and side-kick, Police Commissioner Hulot catch the mysterious and murderous No One before he can strike again?
Okay. Where to begin? Firstly, you should know that Giorgio Faletti seems to have had a job for every decade of his life. According to reports, Faletti is a former lawyer, advertising agent, race car driver, singer, songwriter, TV comedian and actor. Also, should you be inclined to believe everything that you read, he is, apparently – or at least according to Corriere della Serra, the biggest selling newspaper in Italy, the best living Italian writer. That's quite an accolade. But since I can't think of any other living Italian writers, it might be a bit like saying the Pope is the best living ordained Pope. But I digress…
So where were we? Ah yes, a serial killer on the rampage in Monte Carlo. Well, before I get into the nuts and bolts of the plot, I feel a pressing need to mention the heavy-handed use of Eff-Bee-Eye-kill-'em-thrill-'em-book clichés and the readers' bludgeoning by the author with seriously lacklustre similes like:
...this subject had steel cables in place of nerves. Confronted with the evidence, he was about as emotional as an iceberg.
Cheesefest! I found the lack of effort (or perhaps lack of Roget's Thesaurus?) mildly annoying, until such occurrences became legion and I had to shake it off – there were far too many to draw your attention to them here! So whilst they may have sounded great in Italian, something has most definitely been lost in this English translation. In so far as the Sergio Leone Spaghetti Western was king of the cowboy flick in the 70's, both genres have moved on considerably over the years. Frankly, if you are a fan of the more American styled hunt-'em-down serial killer novel, you will find I Kill a bit diluted.
The kittenish quality of the story's Scare Factor does not detract from Faletti's ability to write, however. He clearly has a talent for putting a tale together and using the required elements of the genre. Bearing in mind that I Kill is his first attempt, you ought to ignore the fact he has used every single one of those ingredients, meaning the upshot is a tiny bit formulaic. And long. Man, it's long. But it's still a well thought-out and thoroughly constructed piece of work and the characters are likeable enough.
Besides, a massive 4.5 million copies sold world-wide is tough to argue with and that's the reason I have given this book 3½ Bookbag stars – personally, it scored a little lower. Some reviews have suggested that perhaps European readers are used to sissy criminals which gives some credence to the argument that, like the Americans, we are probably de-sensitised by the de-facto element of the violence presented to us in our visual entertainment choices these days. But that's a discussion for another day.
From my own personal viewpoint, I would be willing to give Faletti a second crack of the literary whip. Even if it is just out of curiosity – his reviews have been mixed enough that he might just put his understandably large ego to one side and take note of his critics even if it's only to look for a better translator next time.
For further reading in a similar FBI vein, I'd most definitely like to recommend both Blind Spot and Blind Rage by Terri Persons. You should also take a look at The Darkness Inside by John Rickards, which is excellent
Lastly, we at Bookbag would like to extend our thanks to the generous ladies and gentlemen at Corsair for sending us this copy to review.
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