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Santa Cruz Sentinel: "Violence is a major theme in Jean-Claude Izzo's "Total Chaos," a novel that does a lot to explain the riots that shut down Paris last fall, [...] a nice introduction to the angst of modern life in France."

Date: Mar 8 2006

La violence á la mode des U.S.

Violence is also a major theme in Jean-Claude Izzo's "Total Chaos" Europa, paper, $14.95, a novel that does a lot to explain the riots that shut down Paris last fall, a novel that takes it's name from a French rap song and is, all the way around, a nice introduction to the angst of modern life in France.

Intricately plotted and full of French ambience cod tongue fritters, pastis, gangsters named Jackie le Mat and Francis the Belgian, "Total Chaos" is a little bit New York crime novel, a little bit Big Easy ambience, a little bit L.A. noir, with a large dollop of Chicago gangsterism.

In the same way that John BuRdett's novel "Bangkok Tattoo" introduced us to Thailand's underbelly of drugs and sex, "Total Chaos" introduces us to the growing drug problems, youthful alienation and racial problems in France in general and the seaport of Marseilles in specific.

It's a French world most Americans never dream existed — a world of housing projects, gangs and racial tensions between Arabs, Italians, French and Spaniards.

While the novel may be, at heart, a police procedural, it's not often you hear a policeman muse about his beat that:

"I'd had more than I could take of human beings. All these storise were like a microcosm of the world's corruption. On a grand scale, it gave rise to wars, massacres, genocide, fanaticism, dictratorship ..."

"Total Chaos" is the first in Izzo's Marseilles trilogy. The author died in 2000.