Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Kill the Next One

Kill the Next One by Federico Axat
Mulholland Books: 12/13/16
eBook review copy; 416 pages
hardcover ISBN-13: 9780316354219

Kill the Next One by Federico Axat is a highly recommended psychological thriller.

In the opening Ted McKay is in his study, planning to kill himself, when the doorbell rings. Whoever is there is very persistent, so Ted opens the door and meets Justin Lynch. Lynch offers him a bizarre proposal: if Ted will kill two men, one criminal who deserves to die and one man who has terminal cancer and wants to die, then Ted will become the next target and spare his family the shame of his suicide. Ted, who has been diagnosed with a terminal brain tumor, accepts the proposition and kills the two men.

Only the men aren't quite who Lynch said they were. And Ted isn't quite what he seems to be. Then Ted's reality/story resets itself and changes. Nothing in the opening is quite what it seems and Ted may be hallucinating. His therapist, Laura Hill, is trying to help him through his crisis. What is reality and what is the truth? What do Ted's dreams mean? And why is Ted being admitted to the psychiatric unit at Lavender Memorial?

Honestly, I was ready to set Kill the Next One aside after the first two parts (at 30% of the novel) because the premise seems so absurd and there were so many holes in the story - but then I started the third part and was immediately hooked. After this point the novel dramatically changes so, first things first: you have to get through the first two parts of this four part novel for events to suddenly start to get extremely intriguing and the plot takes a twist. Is Ted sane? You will know that he might not be a reliable narrator from the first two parts. You are going to have an inkling that what you think is true might not be reality. It is also at this point that a mystery takes hold of the narrative as you try to untangle the facts.

Translated from the original Spanish by David Frye, the writing is quite good. This is one of those psychological thrillers/mysteries that you can't say too much about or you are going to give away parts. In the end, know that reading the first two parts is essential to understand all the twisty bits that follow.
Warning: There is one horrific scene of animal torture toward the end that you can just skip right over, but the presence of it might be way too much for some readers.

Disclosure: My advanced reading copy was courtesy of the publisher/author.

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