January 2011

Another Dan Brown?

The opening line of an allegedly international bestseller is “The man is one and no one”. As if this wasn’t bad enough. it’s all downhill from there.
The book (claimed to have sold more than five million copies) is I Kill, the first novel by Italian Giorgio Faletti. There are shades of the Dan Brown phenomenom is the form of overblown hype for a tedious book that is poorly written (can we blame bad translation?) and relies on extreme gore and transparent impossibilities rather than a credible plot and believable characters.
The basic premise – that a vacationing and emotionally fragile FBI agent can take charge of a major police investigation in Monaco – is beyond belief. Since when did the xenophobic French (or Monagasques) ever relinquish anything to foreign hands? Add to this a sadistic and pedophillic US military chief who seems to live according to no one’s rules but his own and credulity is stretched to breaking point.
It is, of course, yet another serial killer saga (seemingly the fallback for all mass market pulp writers) but the crime, and the reasons behind it, is too outlandish for words — although that doesn’t stop Faletti using them to excess.
Secure computers are accessed seamlessly, Frank from the FBI opens mail for other detectives without question and the big climax depends on the old convenience of a secret tunnel.
This experienced cop even registers surprise when the horror killings make front page news and he defies Monaco’s highest officials with a click of his fingers.
Disconcertingly, his local offsider bears the name Inspector Hulot – a constant reminder to this reader of that comic French classic Monsieur Hulot’s Holiday. That, too, was a laugh a minute, full of slapstick and pratfalls. But I don’t think Faleti had the same intention, even if his book can only be classified as farce.