A ruthless serial killer stalks the rich and famous.
The victims are found horrifically mutilated.
Each kill is announced on the city’s most popular radio show.
The writing, red as blood.
For seasoned FBI agent Frank Ottobre, recovering from his wife’s death, and police inspector Nicolas Hulot, this will be the most harrowing case of their careers.
They must track down the enigmatic killer before he strikes again.
But this killer is always one step ahead of their every move ...
Frank Ottobre is a FBI agent currently on voluntary leave and living in Monte Carlo since the tragic death of his wife. He’s formed a friendship with local police inspector Nicolas Hulot, who’s coping with his own tragedy after the death of his only son in a car crash and his wife’s refusal to accept it.
When a famous racing driver and his fiancée are found brutally murdered on their yacht, Hulot asks Frank for his help because the murderer apparently phoned a popular radio show hosted by Jean-Loup Verdier the night before to announce his intentions. Hulot and Frank team up with Jean-Loup to catch the killer before he strikes again. However the killer is always one step ahead of them and the body count begins to rise, each murder as brutal as the last and each one announced before hand on the radio. A twisted psychosis is at work, one that won’t stop unless and until Hulot and Frank stop him or her.
First published in 2002 in Italian, Faletti’s novel is intended to be a nail-biting thriller with a unique selling point of horrible murders in a glamorous location. The problem is that it’s a dull and clichéd read with leaden dialogue and a turgid plot that drags on for too long. Some of this can be explained by the time lag between first publication and the English translation as some of the twists in the novel, while fresh 8 years ago, have been done to death in the interim. Some of it can also be explained by the translation carried out by the publisher’s in-house team, which certainly does not bring the story to life.
The identity of the murderer is easy to guess early on while the killer’s rationale is eye-rollingly cliche.
Frank’s guilt over his wife’s death is self-indulgent and it’s difficult to see what particular detective skills he has, given that he’s constantly reacting rather than being proactive in the investigation. Hulot is more sympathetic although he too seems wilfully thick at times.
Dialogue is at best functional and at worst leaden. The pace of the story never really builds speed and while the murders are bloody, none of the victims are people you can relate to, let alone sympathise with.
All in all, it’s a dull read and I won’t rush to read another translation of the Faletti’s work.
The kindest thing I can say is that the book loses something in translation and misses out because it’s taken so long for it to be translated into English. Overall though the book is a dull and bloated read with unbelievable characters, ripe dialogue and a murderer who’s scene chewingly dire. All in all, I won’t be rushing to read another translation of Faletti’s work.
Cross-posted to books and bookworming.