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Izzo (1945-2000) returns to Marseille (Total Chaos, etc.) with a bleak, affecting tale about a man on the skids, despairing of love's ability to heal. Rico, the 40-something, hard-drinking transient protagonist, still smarts from the breakup in Rennes from his beautiful, avaricious wife, Sophie. Living on the streets of Paris when his down-and-out friend, Tito, dies curled up on the metro train, Rico, grief-stricken, decides to return to Marseille, where 20 years before as a recently demobilized marine he meet his first love, Léa. The novel becomes a kind of desperate road trip (Tito used to tell Rico about Kerouac's On the Road) as Rico bums his way from Paris to Marseille. Abdou, a 13-year-old Algerian refugee boy in search of a father, takes over the narrative when Rico, increasingly ill, beat up and alcoholic, sinks into a state of delusional regret. Izzo's last novel proves riveting and grim. (Aug.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.