RARA-AVIS: Jean-Claude Izzo

From: Philip Benz ( Philip.Benz@wanadoo.fr)
Date: 29 Jan 2000

As I was driving to a conference on Wednesday, I heard the sad news. Jean-Claude Izzo, Marseillais writer of three hard-boiled novels featuring former police detective Fabio Montale, died of lung cancer.

I only discovered Izzo's brilliant novels, _Total Kheops_, _Chourmo_ and
_Solea_ less than a year ago, but I immediately fell in love with the inscutable and imperturbable figure of Fabio Montale, a tough guy who grew up in the toughest neighborhoods of Marseille, immigrant capital of France, and who did his best to see that justice was done when it was most important, despite police corruption, mafia hit-men and some of the most disagreeable derelicts I've ever read about.

While I have to admit that the second two novels became somewhat less hard-boiled, as Montale spent more time thinking about his bittersweet past and less time toughing it out on the street, I was still mystified at his rather ambiguous death at the end of the third novel. Is he really dead, I wondered, or was it just another close call? Now I know.

So, dear rara-avians, sit down, pour yourself a long slug of Lagavulin, and drink to Jean-Claude Izzo, a black pearl among French "Serie Noire."

Cheers, --- Phil Lyc饠Astier, Aubenas, France

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