Total Chaos – Jean-Claude Izzo

A loan from a good friend and avid reader, and a rare foray into crime fiction for me, as I wandered down the old and vibrant Marseille streets in search of a killer, or at least a motive.

Total Chaos is book one in the Marseilles trilogy from Izzo, and centres on a washed up cop investigating the death of an old childhood friend that pulls him further and further into the city’s seedy underbelly as the criminals and cops square off to each other, and not always on opposite sides.

While I didn’t struggle reading this, I couldn’t really get into it.  The writing is slick enough, but the genre tends to bore me, and I just couldn’t get into Izzo’s Marseille, it didnt’ feel alive or real enough for me.  As the strands towards the end started to unravel and become clearer, I’d lost track of the names, and so the ending for me utterly lacked any tension or intrigue.  The characters are pretty much standard for the fare, and it is not hard to predict the plot, although there is the odd chicane in the storyline, the overall premise and mundane real life of crime fiction is what generally turns me off of it.  Montale is the cop, I was never quite sure who the bad guys were, and the Marseille’s I was hoping to be immersed in stayed frustratingly out of reach.

As much as I wanted to enjoy this, to get a feel for a city that I have only ever visited at half four in the morning to change trains, I can’t say I’ll be reading the rest of the trilogy, and that is a combination of the lack of being pulled into Izzo’s Marseille, as it is my lack of interest in crime fiction.


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