Re: RARA-AVIS: Total Chaos, Jean-Claude Izzo

From: E.Borgers (
Date: 14 Nov 2005

Original title: TOTAL KHEOPS (1995), this noir/HB novel by Izzo was a great success (justified) and highly acclaimed in France when it was published by Serie Noire. This excellent novel - his first- was written by a writer who came very late to crime novel writing, and he produced only 3 novels (the cycle with Fabio Montale) some shorts and a novella. It's surely one of the best French noir novels of the last ten years. Before these novels Izzo collaborated to some film scripts, two of them with mystery/crime coloration.

In my opinion, the second volume of the trilogy (Chourmo -1996) is not on par with the first one, even if it's still a good HB/noir novel. The third and last one (Solea- 1998), is better, darker and more desperate than the first one, but it still lacks something compared to the excellence of TOTAL KHEOPS. There was a possible explanation for the total pessimism of the third novel, as Izzo was then already very affected by illness- an illness that will lead to his death in 2000 (he was 55). All this being said, the whole trilogy is really worth your attention. One very particular point in these novels is how Marseilles, the city itself, plays a role equivalent to this of a character in the story; not only as background and part of the setting (this being very common in HB/noir) but really as an influence on the people involved and the events depicted in the story.

As for the TV adaptation of the 3 novels, in three films, with Delon in the leading role, it's a complete disgrace, compared to the novels and their main character, with so many concessions and wrong deviations, that it's just a bad caricature of the original trilogy written by Izzo. Further, the director filmed it as mainstream TV films with no real skills or talent to made them at least acceptable films noirs.

E.Borgers Hard-Boiled Mysteries Polar Noir

Vince Keenan :

>All the recent discussion of Manchette prompted me to visit the foreign
>mysteries section of the bookstore, where I picked up Europa Editions'
>handsome new version of this 1995 book. It's Izzo's first U.S. translation,
>and it simply knocked me out.
>It's a great hard-boiled tale of a Marseilles police detective looking into
>the deaths of two close friends from his wild days on the streets. Drenched
>with atmosphere, shot through with pain and longing ... it's the best book
>I've read in quite some time.
>CHAOS is the first in a trilogy, and Europa plans on bringing the other two
>installments out in 2007. But I'm not sure if I can wait that long.
>I'm hoping that some of our continental rare birds can shed some light on
>Izzo, who died in 2000. What's his reputation? How are the follow-up books
>in the Marseilles trilogy? And has anyone seen the film adaptation of CHAOS
>or the TV series based on the books starring Alain Delon?
>Vince Keenan

------------------------ Yahoo! Groups Sponsor --------------------~--> Get fast access to your favorite Yahoo! Groups. Make Yahoo! your home page

RARA-AVIS home page:
  Yahoo! Groups Links

<*> To visit your group on the web, go to:

<*> To unsubscribe from this group, send an email to:

<*> Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to:

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : 14 Nov 2005 EST