Review: Kill the Next One by Federico Axat
Kill the Next One
Kill the Next One is Federico Axat's third novel. He is Argentinian and in translation from the Spanish, the novel is evidently swooping round the world.
Axat is an unusual name and means both focused and having the need for expression. With this novel, Axat has achieved both and shown that he is a gifted storyteller.
The story begins with Ted McKay, an apparently successful man, married with two daughters, about to kill himself. He is stopped by a man hammering at his door who offers him a bizarre alternative to a self-administered bullet. This is the first twist of many.
The turns in the plot seem to appear every few pages, constantly making one wrestle with understanding. What is going on in Ted's unusual world is as difficult for the reader to understand as it is for him to live through. But in neither case does it become impossible.
This novel is properly described as a psychological thriller, from the world inside Ted's head to the inside of a psych ward and the working's of a therapist's mind. Past and future interact. And there are base motives at work. There is even a hint of the supernatural (always a disappointing device). Above all, the twists keep coming, even to the final line in the book.
Overall, Kill the Next One is hard to stop reading. It is easy to suspend disbelief along the way and to be carried along by the pace of events and the turns they take. It is afterwards, on reflection, that incredulity sets in. And, as is often the case with an inveterate storyteller, the characters either do not quite convince or are a touch uncongenial. But none of this matters if you need an escapist tale for a few hours.