Total Chaos (Marseilles Trilogy)
March 4, 2006

Total   Chaos Jean-Claude Izzo Title: Total Chaos (Marseilles Trilogy)
Author: Jean-Claude Izzo, Howard Curtis
ISBN: 1933372044
Publisher: Europa Editions
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The first installment of the acclaimed Marseilles trilogy, Total Chaos is a dark novel that explores the intersections of law and order, love and death, immigrant experience and the challenges to tradition posed by a rapidly changing world. In clipped sentences and brutal scenes, the late Jean-Claude Izzo reveals the ways in which the fabled Mediterranean port has become a microcosm of the fallen world—a place where policemen, prostitutes, ambitious Mafioso, disaffected Arab youths, and neo-Nazis jostle for control. One world-weary cop, Fabio Montale, tries to sort out why his two best friends have been murdered, piecing together a story that is much larger than anyone can safely interpret. Hence the bloodshed, heartache, and for cynical regard for much of humanity. What’s surprising is the lavish attention to the details that make Marseilles at once beautiful and haunting—the love of a place, that is, at the heart of a changing Europe. (Source: The World from the BBC, PRI and WGBH)

The book mentions the oil from the Moulin Margier. The book was turned into a movie with Alain Delon playing the main role.


Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

A love quadrangle that has lain dormant for 20 years—three men and one woman, friends and successive partners in childhood and young adulthood—resurfaces with a vengeance in this literary policier. Italian émigré Fabio Montale is the beat cop in Marseille's La Paternelle, an Arab ghetto that sits at the center of the city's seething melting pot of immigration, xenophobia and corruption. He's the last of the three men left standing after Manu, a Spanish émigré, is killed (probably by the mob) and Ugo (a nabo, or Neapolitan) is killed by police while staking out the boss he thinks ordered the hit. Manu was the partner of Lole, also from Spain and Ugo's ex-lover. If the deaths aren't enough to spur Fabio to action, the disappearance of his former lover Leila, an Arab who had made it out of La Paternelle, puts him on the case—and back in Lole's life. Izzo, who died in 2000 at age 55, puts a sophisticated spin on mob-murder–mystery clichés and airs French race politics frankly—the latter is what made this (and two related novels) a hit there. This novel won't electrify U.S. readers in the same way, but it's a hard-boiled and entertaining look at the underside of la politesse. (Nov.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Add another European city, torn between old and new worlds, to the hard-boiled map. Izzo's Marseilles Trilogy, of which this uncompromising mix of noir thriller and unconventional procedural is the first volume, was a smash in France and, with enough buzz, may be here, too. The story concerns three friends--Ugo, Manu, and Fabio--who grew up in Marseilles' roughest neighborhood, dabbling in street crime and vying for the same girls. But Fabio opted out, alienating his friends by becoming a cop. Now, 20 years later, Manu and Ugo are dead, and it is left to Fabio to avenge them. Mood is all here, and Izzo nails it, exploiting Marseilles' port-city seediness and the racial tensions that have transformed what was once a haven for immigrants into a powder keg ready to explode. No aging, world-weary cop in the manner of Henning Mankell's Kurt Wallander, Fabio is a microcosm of the new Europe: young, angry, and unpredictable, an updated Jean-Paul Belmondo working both sides of the law. Watch this series closely. Bill Ott
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Review

As Raymond Chandler and James Ellroy made Los Angeles their own, Izzo made Marseilles much more than a geographical setting. -- The Economist

Comparable with such recent works as Ian Rankin’s Fleshmarket Alley. -- Library Journal, starred review

Distinctive and fascinating… every sight, sound and smell Izzo captures with gusto. -- Kirkus, starred review

Escapist reading that simply cannot be denied. -- The New York Times

Total Chaos is rich, ambitious and passionate, and Izzo’s sad, loving portrait of his native city is amazing. -- The Washington Post

Product Description

"Jean-Claude Izzo's . . . growing literary renown and huge sales are leading to a recognizable new trend in continental fiction: the rise of the sophisticated Mediterranean thriller. . . . Caught between pride and crime, racism and fraternity, tragedy and light, messy urbanization and generous beauty, the city for [detective Fabio Montale] is a Utopia, an ultimate port of call for exiles. There, he is torn between fatalism and revolt, despair and sensualism."-The Economist

This first installment in the legendary Marseilles Trilogy sees Fabio Montale turning his back on a police force marred by corruption and racism and taking the fight against the mafia into his own hands.

Jean-Claude Izzo achieved astoundingly rapid success with his Marseilles Trilogy. He died in Marseilles in 2000 at the age of 55.

From the Publisher

Growing up together on the mean streets of Marseilles, where friendship meant everything, three young men promised to stay true to one another. But that was before Ugo and Manu slid down into the criminal underworld of Europe’s toughest, most violent and vibrant city. When Manu is murdered and Ugo returns from abroad to avenge his friend’s death only to be killed himself, it is left to the third in this trio, detective Fabio Montale, to ensure that rough justice is done. Montale is not a typical policeman. He prefers the company of lowlifes and hookers to that of other cops. And despite warnings from both his colleagues in law enforcement and his acquaintances in the underworld, he cannot forget the promise he once made to Manu and Ugo. He’s going to find their killer even if it means going outside the law.

Marseilles is more than the setting for Izzo’s noir novels; it is a protagonist: explosive, tragic, breathtakingly beautiful and deadly. Asked to explain the astounding success of his now legendary Marseilles Trilogy (Total Chaos, Posse, and Solea) Izzo credits his beloved Marseilles: "Essentially, I think I have been rewarded for having depicted the real beauty of this city, its gusto, its passion for life, and the ability of its inhabitants to drink life down to the last drop." Fabio Montale is the perfect representative of this city of melancholy beauty. A disenchanted cop with an inimitable talent for living who turns his back on a police force marred by corruption and racism and, in the name of friendship, takes on the mafia with his own hands.

Europa Editions will publish the second and third installments in Izzo’s Marseilles Trilogy in 2007.

From the Inside Flap

They grew up together on the mean streets of Marseilles, where friendship means everything. They swore that nothing would break their bond. But people and circumstances change. Ugo and Manu have been sucked down into the criminal underworld of Europe’s toughest, most violent and vibrant city. When Manu is murdered and Ugo returns from abroad to avenge his friend’s death, only to be killed himself, it is left to the third in the trio, detective Fabio Montale, to ensure justice is done. Despite warnings from both his colleagues in law enforcement and his acquaintances in the underworld, Montale cannot forget the promise he once made to Manu and Ugo. He’s going to find their killer even if it means going too far.

In Izzo’s hardboiled novels, Marseilles is the protagonist; explosive, tragic, breathtakingly beautiful and deadly. Asked to explain the astounding success of his now legendary Marseilles Trilogy, Izzo credits his beloved native city: "Essentially, I think I have been rewarded for having depicted the real beauty of Marseilles, its gusto, its passion for life, and the ability of its inhabitants to drink life down to the last drop." Fabio Montale is the perfect hero in this city of melancholy beauty. A disenchanted cop with an inimitable talent for living who turns his back on a police force marred by corruption and racism and, in the name of friendship, takes the fight against the mafia into his own hands.

Europa Editions will publish the second and third installments in Izzo’s Marseilles Trilogy in 2007.

About the Author

JEAN-CLAUDE IZZO was born in Marseilles, France, in 1945. He achieved immediate success with his Marseilles Trilogy. His two other novels (The Lost Mariners and The Sun of the Dying) and one collection of short stories (Living Tires) also continue to enjoy popularity with both critics and the public. Izzo died in 2000 at the age of fifty-five.