What an imaginative read; a psychological thrill ride!
Although not his first book, Kill the Next One is the North American debut novel for Argentinian author Federico Axat. His two previous novels have not been translated to English...yet?
Ted McKay is a man on a mission. He has a brain tumor and he wants to die. He is just about to follow through, when a mysterious stranger is suddenly clamoring at his door. Oddly, Justin Lynch knows exactly what Ted plans to do. He has the perfect solution: The Suicide Club; an unusual but effective twist on “paying it forward”, thus saving grieving families the added burdens of guilt and explanation. In exchange for being put on a hit list, you first pull the trigger on another.
Appealing to his sense of justice, Ted is assigned two deserving targets. It doesn't take him long to topple the dominoes, but things start to get weird.
Reality itself is up for grabs. The reader is taken on an exciting and complicated journey in and out of Ted's damaged and struggling mind. We're never quite certain what is fact or illusion.
Ted is a fascinating character with a multi-faceted life and psyche. Lynch, Ted's family, his therapist, and those for whom Ted only has vague recollections, are crucial to his story and sense of self.
One of my most enjoyed books of the year, Kill the Next One takes the reader for a great ride. Anything but linear, it moves from the present to Ted's recent and distant past and back again. Twists and turns are totally unanticipated. Some are quite brilliant.
Axat is a clever and engrossing writer. Let's hope that more of his work appears in the North American market where he will surely enjoy further success.