Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Kill the Next One - Federico Axat

Kill the Next One marks Federico Axat's North American debut. Translation rights for this novel have been sold in twenty-nine countries.

Ted McKay seems to have it all - beautiful wife, two lovely little girls and a high-paying job. But when he is diagnosed with a terminal brain tumour, Ted decides to end it all. He is sitting with his gun to his head in his study when the doorbell rings. And whoever it is starts shouting that he knows what he is doing. And then there's the note in Ted's pocket in his own handwriting, "Open the door. It's your only way out."

I was intrigued and even more so when Ted lets the stranger in and he proposes that Ted end things - but with a twist. First, he should kill a 'deserving' criminal and then another man with a terminal illness. After that, someone will do the same for Ted.

Great premise eh? And Ted decides it's a great idea. But it's not as straight forward as all that. Axat has created one of the most unreliable narrators I've read in a while. Is what's happening really what's happening? Ted's memories are confused, his narrative of what's going on is cloudy and his thinking becomes muddled. What is the truth?

Axat has penned a very clever, but convoluted plot. The reader will need to be on their toes to keep on top of the next iteration. I adore unreliable narrators, but about two thirds of the way through, I grew tired of Ted's ever changing narrative. I had my suspicions as to what the final 'reveal' was going to be - and I was proven correct. From the publisher's initial description of the book, I expected a very different read.

I never truly engaged with either Ted or his story - instead I felt like a distanced observer. Additionally, without providing any spoilers, the possum seemed liked an add on plot device to me. Fair warning to gentle readers - there is a gratuitous animal torture scene near the end of the book that doesn't need to be there and adds nothing to the story.

Sadly, this was a bit of a letdown for me. But, see for yourself - read an excerpt of Kill the Next One.

1 comment:

bermudaonion said...

I've felt that way about a couple translated books I've read and wonder if the story suffered in translation. The premise of this sounds good but I think I'll skip it.