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the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction


I Kill

Giorgio Faletti

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To purchase I Kill

Title: I Kill
Author: Giorgio Faletti
Genre: Novel
Written: 2002 (Eng. 2008)
Length: 597 pages
Original in: Italian
Availability: I Kill - US
I Kill - UK
I Kill - Canada
I Kill - India
Je tue - France
Ich töte - Deutschland
Io uccido - Italia
Yo mato - España
  • Italian title: Io uccido
  • No translator is credited in the English-language edition, although there is a reference to a four-person: "Editorial team of the English language edition"

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Our Assessment:

C- : a paint-by-the-numbers -- in the broadest brushstrokes -- job

See our review for fuller assessment.

Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
The Times . 12/6/2010 Marcel Berlins

  From the Reviews:
  • "(T)he English version is an irritatingly clunky one (.....) Still, I do not totally dismiss I Kill" - Marcel Berlins, The Times

Please note that these ratings solely represent the complete review's biased interpretation and subjective opinion of the actual reviews and do not claim to accurately reflect or represent the views of the reviewers. Similarly the illustrative quotes chosen here are merely those the complete review subjectively believes represent the tenor and judgment of the review as a whole. We acknowledge (and remind and warn you) that they may, in fact, be entirely unrepresentative of the actual reviews by any other measure.

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The complete review's Review:

       With its exotic setting -- Monte Carlo --, crazed serial killer (a man who skins off his victims' faces), an FBI agent trying to get over his own personal tragedy called in on the case, a mentally disabled twenty-two-year-old radio station staff mascot and 'Rain Boy' who has an amazing ear and memory for music, and a power-mad American general and his even loonier sidekick, I Kill has all the ingredients for a decent thriller. Unfortunately, all it has is ingredients -- these and many, many more. Faletti pours them all in and on (and on and on), stirs things up a bit, and leaves readers with a very long mess of a novel.
       A killer starts on a crime spree. But first he calls in to his favourite radio show and leaves portentous clues -- and the dire warning and boast: 'I kill ...'. That's a message that he also leaves at the scenes of his murders -- though he is careful (almost careful enough, in fact) about not leaving any other traces behind.
       The novel does offer short scenes from the no-name ("I am one and no one", as he likes to say), but only offers hints as to why he's doing these terrible things. For the most part it is a police procedural, with a whole lot of people on the case (including the American General, one of whose daughters was one of the first victims and who is out for vengeance). It is a messy police procedural, too, because they (or Faletti) have odd ideas about police procedure. More often than not they go it alone, never telling each other what trail they're following and not sharing information (leading, of course, to death and embarrassment). It is a book of lone wolves (including the killer) and solo efforts -- all for the brief (and unbelievable) moments of glory:

The fact that the arrest was due solely to Frank's stroke of genius and that it had been carried out by him alone raised the general level of admiration for him and even created esteem where it hadn't existed.
       Sure there's some fun in the hunt, as the book moves between some admittedly creative and shocking murders and the police slowly putting the pieces together, but most of it feels arbitrary and the unrealistic elements soon get out of hand. Worse, the identity of the killer is discovered some two-thirds of the way through this very long book, and the concluding cat-and-mouse game is even less believable (and the final chase-scenes offensively silly).
       The overkill of thriller elements and twists quickly becomes ridiculous , though by the time a character reveals that the boy with her is not just her son, "But he's also my brother", well, one can just laugh. Unfortunately, much of the writing is far below average pulp-thriller norms, making for an almost 600-page slog. This may have something to do with the translation -- no translator is credited in the book, with there only a baffling reference to a four-person: "Editorial team of the English language edition" (huh ?) -- but Faletti seems to have a tin ear and limited abilities all by himself, too, offering passages such as:
Morelli missed a word here and there, but he understood enough to realize that this subject had steel cables in place of nerves. Confronted with the evidence, he was about as emotional as an iceberg. Even the most hardened criminal would give in and start blubbering in a situation like that.
       Can you feel the tension ? Yeah, us neither. Maybe European readers are used to sissy-criminal characters, but anyone hardened by typical American crime fiction would surely be far more astonished by suspects who start blubbering when confronted by this -- or even much worse.
       There's romance, too, but romance is hard to pull off in thrillers, even as Faletti plays the personal-tragedy-card as much as he can. So we're left with pillow talk along the lines of:
     "You smell good, Frank Ottobre. And you're handsome."
       And then there's the exasperating: when someone writes: "The driver was literally flying" then he better mean not just that the car was moving fast but that the driver is ... literally flying.
       I Kill is all paint by the numbers and no talent. Sure, these serial killer thrillers aren't meant to be plausible, but when the investigators act as they do here -- in ways that even couch-potatoes whose forensic expertise is derived solely from watching cop shows on TV wouldn't act -- it gets enormously frustrating. And it's so damn long, too, only moving fast for brief murderous stretches.
       Not good. Not good at all.

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I Kill: Reviews: Giorgio Faletti: Other books of interest under review:

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About the Author:

       Giorgio Faletti (1950-2014) was a popular Italian entertainer who wrote several bestselling thrillers.

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© 2008-2014 the complete review

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