Jean-Patrick Manchette (1942–1995) was a genre-redefining French crime novelist, screenwriter, critic, and translator. Throughout the 1960s he supported himself by writing television scripts, 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 ten subsequent works over the course of the next two decades and establishing a new genre of French novel, the néo-polar (distinguished from the traditional detective novel, or polar, by its political engagement and social radicalism). In addition to The Mad and the Bad, the Manchette novels to have appeared so far in English are Fatale (available as an NYRB Classic), Three to Kill, and The Prone Gunman.
The “French Raymond Chandler” is back with this story of a assassination gone wrong and a manic, murderous cross-country road trip. “For Manchette … the crime novel is no mere entertainment, but a means to strip bare the failures of society, ripping through veils of appearance, deceit, and manipulation to the greed and violence that are the society’s true engines.”—James Sallis, The Boston Globe
J.P. Manchette transformed the modern detective novel into a weapon of gleeful satire and anarchic fun. In Fatale, we watch with alternating horror and fascination as the deadly Aimée drifts into a sleepy provincial town, poised to make a killing.