An audacious psychological thriller where nothing is what it seems.
Ted McKay had it all: a beautiful wife, two daughters, a high-paying job. But after being diagnosed with a terminal brain tumor he finds himself with a gun to his temple, ready to pull the trigger. Then the doorbell rings.
A stranger makes him a proposition: why not kill two deserving men before dying? The first target is a criminal, and the second is a man with terminal cancer who, like Ted, wants to die. After executing these kills, Ted will become someone else's next target, like a kind of suicidal daisy chain. Ted understands the stranger's logic: it's easier for a victim's family to deal with a murder than with a suicide.
However, as Ted commits the murders, the crime scenes strike him as odd. The targets know him by name and possess familiar mementos. Even more bizarrely, Ted recognizes locations and men he shouldn't know. As Ted's mind begins to crack, dark secrets from his past seep through the fissures.
Kill the Next One is an immersive psychological thriller from an exciting new voice.
Federico Axat was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina in 1975. His first novel, Benjamin, was published in Spain by Suma de Letras and translated into Italian. His second novel, El Pantano de las Mariposas, was published in 2013 and translated into Portuguese, French, and Chinese. Kill The Next One is his U.S. debut.
Kill the Next One 4.4 out of 5based on
More than 1 year ago
Kill The Next One is the third novel by Argentinian author, Federico Axat. Successful businessman, husband and father, Ted McKay has a brain tumour. He is sitting in his study with a gun. He’s about to put it to his head when someone persistently knocks on his door. Justin Lynch has a proposition: instead of leaving his family to deal with the stigma of his suicide, he can die by another’s hand.
He must first kill two people who need to die: a murderer (who got off on a technicality) and another prospective suicide; then someone will do the same for him. Perhaps it’s a sign of Ted’s desperation: he finds himself agreeing; he does as he is asked.
Really? This tale seems to be full of holes. Ah, but wait. Read on. It soon becomes apparent that Ted’s narrative is rather unreliable. Is his perspective affected by his brain tumour? Is Lynch for real? Does the second victim actually want to die?
Axat has cleverly crafted a fast-paced psychological thriller that does not go where expected. Nothing and no-one is what they first seem. Each time the reader believes he has solved a puzzle, the story turns. There are so many twists the reader’s head will spin: lawsuits for whiplash injury should be anticipated.
Axat’s novel features a myriad of topics, none of which can be revealed without being a plot-spoiler. Flawlessly translated from Spanish by David Frye, this is a brilliant page-turner.
More than 1 year ago
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.
More than 1 year ago
More than 1 year ago
Kill the Next One marks Federico Axat's North American debut. Translation rights for this novel have been sold in twenty-nine countries.
Ted McKay seems to have it all - beautiful wife, two lovely little girls and a high-paying job. But when he is diagnosed with a terminal brain tumour, Ted decides to end it all. He is sitting with his gun to his head in his study when the doorbell rings. And whoever it is starts shouting that he knows what he is doing. And then there's the note in Ted's pocket in his own handwriting, "Open the door. It's your only way out."
I was intrigued and even more so when Ted lets the stranger in and he proposes that Ted end things - but with a twist. First, he should kill a 'deserving' criminal and then another man with a terminal illness. After that, someone will do the same for Ted.
Great premise eh? And Ted decides it's a great idea. But it's not as straight forward as all that. Axat has created one of the most unreliable narrators I've read in a while. Is what's happening really what's happening? Ted's memories are confused, his narrative of what's going on is cloudy and his thinking becomes muddled. What is the truth?
Axat has penned a very clever, but convoluted plot. The reader will need to be on their toes to keep on top of the next iteration. I adore unreliable narrators, but about two thirds of the way through, I grew tired of Ted's ever changing narrative. I had my suspicions as to what the final 'reveal' was going to be - and I was proven correct. From the publisher's initial description of the book, I expected a very different read.
I never truly engaged with either Ted or his story - instead I felt like a distanced observer. Additionally, without providing any spoilers, the possum seemed liked an add on plot device to me. Fair warning to gentle readers - there is a gratuitous animal torture scene near the end of the book that doesn't need to be there and adds nothing to the story.
Sadly, this was a bit of a letdown for me.
More than 1 year ago
Ted McKay has a terminal brain tumor. While his wife and children are visiting
her family out of state, he decides it is time to end his life. Putting a gun to
his head, he prepares to pull the trigger.
But the doorbell ringing interrupts him. A stranger offers his a deal ... if he
will shoot a criminal who walked away from justice before he dies, and also kill
another man like himself ... terminally ill and waiting to die, the next man on
the list will take Ted's life. It would be so much easier for his family if he
dies of a random killing rather than committing suicide.
But is this really what happened? Did he actually murder two men? Why does he
keep reliving certain moments of his life over and over again?
This was like riding a roller coaster ride in the dark. It's such a
well-written book ... the reader doesn't quite know what to believe. It's a look
at a terrified man .. what he will and won't do. Is the brain tumor causing
hallucinations? Does he even have a brain tumor?
No spoilers here .. but I warn you ... beware of the possum.
Many thanks to the author / Text Publishing / Netgalley who provided a digital copy. The opinion expressed here is unbiased and entirely my own.
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