I keep trying to share the reviews I haven’t brought you yet, hoping that when I’ve caught up I’ll share them as I read. Let’s see. Today it’s a pretty special one, funnily by an Argentinian author whom I happened to read in translation first. Oh well…
Kill the Next One by Federico Axat (Author), David Frye (Translator).
THE PERFECT THRILLER
Ted has it all: a beautiful wife, two daughters, a high-paying job. But after he is diagnosed with a terminal brain tumour he finds himself with a gun to his temple, ready to pull the trigger. That’s when the doorbell rings.
A stranger makes him a proposition: kill two deserving men before dying. The first is a criminal, and the second is, like Ted, terminally ill, and wants to die. If Ted kills these men he will then become a target himself in a kind of suicidal daisy chain—and won’t it be easier for his family if he’s a murder victim?
Kill The Next One is an audacious, immersive psychological thriller in which nothing is what it seems.
Federico Axat was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina in 1975. His earlier novels have been translated into Italian, German, French, Portuguese and Chinese. His third novel, Kill the Next One, was published as La última Salida in Spanish and has become an international sensation with rights sold in 33 territories. Axat’s novels stand out for their high dose of suspense, plot twists and unexpected endings. Kill the Next One is set in the United States, where Axat lived for a time before returning to his native Argentina.
‘An absorbing psychological thriller, perfectly measured and balanced. The nerve-racked reader cannot help but keep turning pages, lost in Axat’s labyrinthine twists.’ ABC (Spain)
‘A psychological thriller where nothing is what it seems…and where pieces are moved as in a game of chess.’ El Mundo
‘Take some drops of Hitchcock, the boldness of Jules Verne, the tricks of The Mystery of the Yellow Room, some Stephen King characters, the atmosphere of Shutter Island, Christopher Nolan’s film scripts, The Game, some episodes of Lost…and you won’t be able to put it down…[Kill the Next One] is a gripping, fast-paced read. A big Hollywood producer is already working on the film.’ La Vanguardia
‘With more twists than a double helix, Kill the Next One is a relentlessly-paced, unputdownable psychological thriller. It zigs one way, then zags another, providing the kind of stomach-clenching, unsettling suspense readers associate with Lauren Beukes and Stephen King…Expertly paced and plotted, and extremely visceral, with bucket-loads of surprises and genuine chills, it’s sure to be one of the most-talked about thrillers of the year. Let’s hope Kill the Next One isn’t Axat’s only book to receive an English translation. He’s a writer to watch, and this book is one to savour.’ Simon McDonald
‘Nightmare imagery, mind-bending plot twists, and a kaleidoscopic storytelling style lend Axat’s tale a vertiginous air, but at the core of this literary fever dream lies an elegantly crafted and emotionally resonant mystery that astonishes, devastates, and satisfies in equal measure.’ Publishers Weekly
‘Axat harnesses that uncertainty to build suspense and creates an intriguing, mind-bending thriller in the vein of Dennis Lehane’s Shutter Island.’ Booklist
‘Made up of four parts, as Kill the Next One moves from one section to the next, it pulls from beneath you any presumption you might have about where its story was headed.’ Bookbag
‘Section after section ends with a smashing revelation that what we thought we knew was at best only part of the truth, and at worst just wrong…a clever and elaborate reconstruction of the life of a man warped into an alibi for others’ Shots Magazine
The author’s page in Amazon is in Spanish (a brief bio is provided further up, and other than mentioning that he’s a civil engineer, all is there). Here is the link:
Thanks to NetGalley and to Mulholland Books for offering me an ARC copy of the book that I voluntarily choose to review.
The description of the novel fascinated me both as a reader and as a psychiatrist, but although I couldn’t completely switch off the psychiatrist in me (probably even non-psychiatrist will be wondering about diagnostics and pathologies as they read), my review is as a reader. (I don’t think I could avoid spoilers if I tried to offer a psychiatric reading of the story, so I won’t).
I have seen quite a few comments comparing it to Christopher Nolan, Stephen King, to Dennis Lehane’s Shutter Island, Alfred Hitchcock, all apt comparisons, and I did think of Spellbound at some point. It is a clever and complex story divided into four books, that reflect different levels of insight and understanding, as we progressively enter deeper and deeper into Ted’s, the main character, mind.
The story is told in the third person from the point of view of the protagonist, Ted, whom we meet at a moment of crisis. The novel starts with a bang that will grab most readers, and it gets complicated as it moves along. What seemed a morally complex choice facing the protagonist becomes… Well, it’s not easy to know what. It’s difficult to talk about this book without revealing any spoilers, but let’s say that the level of confusion the reader experiences mirrors well that experienced by the main character, who finds it difficult to know what is true and what is not, if the people he meets are real or not, and if the experiences and memories he revisits in his mind are, or have been, real, or are simply figments of his imagination. The readers find themselves in the shoes of the protagonist, questioning everything they read and wondering how the pieces of the puzzle fit together.
The novel offers an explanation after another of what is happening and questions everything, from the soundness of mind of the protagonist and those around him to matters of identity, feelings, past and present, family relationships and notions of good and evil. It is a psychological thriller where we don’t even realise what really is at stake until quite late in the narration, which does not follow a standard format, and will fascinate those looking for something different and with an emphasis on the psychological.
The ending, that I did find more than satisfactory (although that might depend on the reader) made me question issues of narration once again and considering my fondness for unreliable narrators, although not narrated in the first person, this novel will definitely figure high in my list of recommendations. And I must try and make sure I read the author in Spanish too.
Thanks very much to NetGalley, to the author and publisher and especially to all of you for reading, and remember to like, share, comment and CLICK!