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The Barnes & Noble Review: "By its end Chourmo acheives a level of pity and horror that recalls Greek tragedy."

Date: Jul 12 2013

In Chourmo -- the second installment of what would become The Marseilles Trilogy -- Montale, now an ex-cop, is asked to find his beautiful cousin's missing teenage son. Scarcely has he agreed to look for Guitou than a former colleague, a counselor and confidant of Arab youth, is assassinated before his eyes in broad daylight. As Montale peers down at Serge's bullet-riddled body, he realizes "that the years had gone by, and that seemed to be all I ever did: crouch to look at a corpse. Shit! It couldn't be starting all over again, could it? Why were there so many corpses in my life? And why were more and more of them people I knew or loved?"

As Chourmo progresses toward its heart-racing conclusion on the winding cliff roads above the Mediterranean, Izzo reintroduces Montale's various friends from Total Chaos:enigmatic Lole, journalist Babette Bellini, former prizefighter Mavros, the motherly cook Honorine and the fatherly Fonfon, the restaurant owner Felix. While sipping pastis at Felix's one night, Montale reflects on how life in Marseilles used to be and why a man might need to drink a lot:

Those were the days when people still knew how to talk to each other, when they still had things to say to each other. Of course, it made you thirsty. And it took time. But time didn't matter. Nobody was in a hurry. Everything could wait a few more minutes. Those days were no better and no worse than now. But it was a time when you could share your joys and your sorrows. You didn't hold back. You could even tell people you were poor. You were never alone.

First published in 1996, Chourmo also makes clear that terrorism didn't begin on September 11, 2001. Serge's death ultimately leads Montale to an Islamic fundamentalist network, a cache of arms, and plans for revolutionary violence. Guitou's disappearance, however, is linked to an increased Mafia presence in "respectable" Marseilles businesses. By its end Chourmo achieves a level of pity and horror that recalls Greek tragedy.