Synopses & Reviews
A New York Review Books Original
Whether you call her a cold-hearted grifter or the soul of modern capitalism, there's no question that Aimée is a killer and a more-than-professional one. Now she's set her eyes on a backwater burg, where, while posing as an innocent (albeit drop-dead gorgeous) newcomer to town, she means to sniff out old grudges and engineer new opportunities, deftly playing different people and different interests against each other the better, as always, to make a killing. But then something snaps: the master manipulator falls prey to a pure and wayward passion.
Aimée has become the avenging angel of her own nihilism, exacting the destruction of a whole society of destroyers. An unholy original, Jean-Patrick Manchette transformed the modern detective novel into a weapon of gleeful satire and anarchic fun. In Fatale he mixes equal measures of farce, mayhem, and madness to prepare a rare literary cocktail that packs a devastating punch.
"First published in 1977, this masterful hit man narrative from Manchette (1942-1995) strips down and flips expectations, anticipating La Femme Nikita by several years. 'For her stay in Bléville, the young woman had chosen to call herself Aimée Joubert, and that is what I shall call her from now on,' Manchette says of his female assassin, who 'aside from her husband,' as French author Jean Echenoz mentions in the afterword, 'has already killed seven men, among them a factory owner, a stock breeder, and a doctor.' Told in tight behaviorist language and laced with deadly black humor, this compact neo-noir follows Joubert as she steps much too far into her self-made career toward a showdown worthy of any action film. Written between Three to Kill and The Prone Gunman, Manchette's two books previously translated into English, this tense thriller should only add to his growing reputation in America. (May)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"Cool, compact, and shockingly original." Marilyn Stasio, New York Times
"Manchette called crime novels 'the great moral literature of our time.' Manchette pushes the Situationist strategy of dérive and détournement to the point of comic absurdity, throwing a wrench into the workings of their main characters' lives and gleefully recording the anarchy that results." Jennifer Howard, Boston Review
"Manchette is legend among all of the crime writers I know, and with good reason: his novels never fail to stun and thrill from page one." Duane Swierczynski, author of Expiration Date
"The building that I'm writing this review in is called the City of Books. It houses over a million volumes in over 68,000 square feet of retail space, and while I haven't heard of a recent measurement, at last count, there was around 12 linear miles of shelves displaying all of these books.
In this enormity of space and books, nestled quietly on a shelf slightly above eye-level in the Gold Room (where we feature mysteries and thrillers, among other genres), there's a writer whose English-language offerings take up less than an inch-and-a-half of shelf space. Three slim volumes that can be easily overlooked in a search for more commercial authors shelved nearby." Gerry Donaghy, Powells.com
(Read the entire Powells.com review
About the Author
(1942–1995) was a genre-redefining French crime novelist, screenwriter, critic, and translator. Born in Marseille to a family of relatively modest means, Manchette grew up in a southwestern suburb of Paris, where he wrote from an early age. While a student of English literature at the Sorbonne, he contributed articles to the newspaper La Voix Communiste
and became active in the national students' union. In 1961 he married and with his wife, Mélissa, began translating American crime fiction — he would go on to translate the works of such writers as Donald Westlake, Ross Thomas, and Margaret Millar, often for Gallimard's Série noire
Throughout the 1960s, Manchette supported himself with various jobs writing television scripts, pornographic screenplays, young-adult books, and film novelizations. In 1971 he published his first novel, a collaboration with Jean-Pierre Bastid, and embarked on his literary career in earnest, producing 10 subsequent works over the course of the next two decades and establishing a new genre of French novel, the néo-polar (distinguished from traditional detective novel, or polar, by its political engagement and social radicalism). During the 1980s, Manchette published celebrated translations of Alan Moore's Watchmen graphic novels for a bandes-dessinée publishing house co-founded by his son, Doug Headline.
In addition to Fatale, Manchette's novels Three to Kill and The Prone Gunman, as well as Jacques Tardi's graphic-novel adaptations of them (titled West Coast Blues and Like a Sniper Lining Up His Shot, respectively), are available in English.
Donald Nicholson-Smith's translations of noir fiction include Manchette's Three to Kill, Thierry Jonquet's Mygale (a.k.a. Tarantula), and (with Alyson Waters) Yasmina Khadra's Cousin K. He has also translated works by Guy Debord, Paco Ignacio Taibo II , Henri Lefebvre, Antonin Artaud, and Guillaume Apollinaire. Born in Manchester, England, he is a longtime resident of New York City.
Jean Echenoz is a prominent French novelist, many of whose works have been translated into English, among them Chopin's Move (1989), Big Blondes (1995), and most recently Ravel (2008) and Running (2009).