My good friend Jon introduced me to this book, via my wife – in as much as she swiped it off me when I first bought it, read the first 50 pages and discarded it, saying it wasn’t her thing at all.
This surprised me, because I think it’s a wonderful book – a very, deeply French Raymond Chandler, with jazz and pastis instead of big bands and hooch.
It’s set in Marseilles in the 90s (I think), a racial melting pot filled with resentment, racism and rancour. A local detective investigates the deaths of two of his oldest friends, 20 years apart, and finds himself elbow-deep in conspiracy, gangs and organised crime.
Izzo writes beautifully, and his main guy, Fabio Montale, is a fabulous creation, a recognisably tragic figure who loves women and honour and booze and food and is doomed to destroy himself with his appetite for life. Montale very much reminded me of James Lee Burke’s Dave Robicheaux , and I can think of no higher praise than that.
There’s two more books in the series, and I’m definitely going to read them both.
- Lloyd Shepherd