Friday, April 26, 2013

Killing Nazis / Nikos Kalpakis

Reviewed by: Keith Nixon

Genre: Thriller/Short Story

Approximate word count: 10-11,000 words

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Nikos Kalpakis is a filmmaker and short story author who lives in Greece.


Themis is a painter struggling with his craft. One of his neighbours, a shopkeeper, is murdered. He spots two neo-Nazis nearby, assumes they are the perpetrators, and decides to take revenge on Ali’s behalf.


I’m not sure where to start with this review. Killing Nazis is a literal title, the protagonist Themis is driven into this and in parallel paints. His justification seems to result from a story about his grandmother who took revenge on some Nazis who killed her husband during the WWII occupation of Thessaloniki where the plot is based. Themis gains additional motivation after a local shopkeeper, Ali, is murdered and scalped. Somewhat unhinged Themis blames the Nazis and then goes about hunting them down, almost like a nest of ants he decides to exterminate.

But there are problems. I got no feeling of the location, it could be based anywhere. The author didn’t explain why there were Nazis on the island and why they were at fault (okay the protagonist is clearly mad, but the links were too weak). The vast majority of the story was an internal monologue with virtually no dialogue, mostly from the protagonist’s point of view but sometimes, mid-scene, the perspective would jump from protagonist to Nazi.

The Nazis weren’t believable. One moment they were tough, the next weak and gay (literally) – I expect this is because Themis was seeing things from an unbalanced perspective, but even so... There was very little description of the other characters – in general I have no problem with this (Fleming never fully described James Bond, for example) but in the final scenes there’s a whole group of Nazis. They’re described as old, young, wearing a work shirt etc. Very confusing and led to a multiple use of the word Nazi (as I have).

Fairly early on Themis learns the Nazis are not responsible for Ali’s murder, but still he continues. I guess we have to assume he’s mad and this justifies the ongoing brutality. But it didn’t work for me.

On a technical basis there was a regular use of the same word in a paragraph, grammar errors, punctuation errors, spelling mistakes, incorrect use of words, tense changes, and mangled sentences. However I expect the author was writing in their second language which isn’t easy.

A couple of examples:

The Nazi pushed himself off the ground, cursing Jesus, Mary and all the holly saints of the Orthodox Church. He stood in his one leg and tried to put some weight on his right leg, a sheer amount of pain rushed through his body.

You ran at high school, you run at your spare time. You are the fasted among your brothers when we chase the Blacks and the Browns, this is nothing.

Overall I just didn’t get the point of the story, it clearly wasn’t sufficiently well developed. On the other hand it wasn’t the worst book I’ve ever read. 


Some adult language.

Format/Typo Issues:


Rating: ** Two Stars


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What a great interview and interesting premise.
I like that it sounds unique and different.
And perhaps like it has an element of mystery.