Tuesday, February 21, 2017
Review of Kill the Next One by Federico Axat (Text Publishing, 2016)
Kill the Next One is an ambitious and an unusual crime novel. Ted McKay may or may not have joined a suicide daisy-chain, killing two men – one the entry to the chain, the other the next link in the chain. Since he’s suffering from a brain tumour his grip on reality is tenuous, with his dreams and the real world becoming thoroughly intertwined. Axat uses this premise to spin a tale with numerous blinds, feints and twists. Just as the reader feels they’re starting to piece the puzzle together, Axat throws all the pieces in the air once again. The result is an intriguing and clever story about a man struggling with demons that may or may not be real but nonetheless have consequences with respect to his family and those he encounters. Throughout Ted remains something of an enigma, somehow less than the sum of his multiple parts. While the book is tagged as ‘The Perfect Thriller,’ it lacks the pace and tension of a thriller until the story reaches the denouement. Indeed, the pace is actually quite slow and more accurately be described as a slow-burning psychological noir. The result of a somewhat elusive lead character and pedestrian pace that sometimes drags is that the tale is overly reliant on the plot to hook and drag the reader along. This it achieves through the premise and convoluted loops, but cleverness alone doesn’t make-up for the lack of a thriller vibe. Nonetheless, an interesting slice of literary crime fiction.