The Mad and the Bad cover
Please sign up for NYRB email newsletters to be notified when this book is available for purchase.
Publication date:
July 15, 2014
NYRB Classics
International Literature, Suspense & Crime

An NYRB Classics Original

Michel Hartog, a sometime architect, is a powerful businessman and famous philanthropist whose immense fortune has just grown that much greater following the death of his brother in an accident.

Peter is his orphaned nephew—a spoiled brat.

Julie is in an insane asylum.

Thompson is a hired gunman with an ulcerated gut.

Michel, known for his kindly interest in the disadvantaged, hires Julie to look after Peter.

And he hires Thompson to kill them.

Julie and Peter escape. Thompson, gut groaning, pursues.

Hunter and hunted make their way across France to the remote mountain estate to which Michel has retreated.

Bullets fly. Bodies accumulate.

The craziness is just getting started.

Like Jean-Patrick Manchette’s celebrated Fatale, The Mad and the Bad is a clear-eyed, cold-blooded, pitch-perfect work of creative destruction.


Cool, compact, and shockingly original.
—Marilyn Stasio, The New York Times

In France, which long ago embraced American crime fiction, thrillers are referred to as polars. And in France the godfather and wizard of polars is Jean-Patrick Manchette…. He’s a massive figure…. There is gristle here, there is bone.
The Boston Globe

Manchette steeped himself in the works of American noir masters such as Hammett, Chandler and James M. Cain. He was fluent in English, thanks to a thriller-loving Scots grandmother, and for years he worked as a translator of figures like Donald Westlake, Ross Thomas and Robert Bloch. The influence is clear: Manchette skillfully subverts typical noir situations, such as the family man who walks away when danger strikes (Three to Kill), the solitary figure who snuffs out small-town corruption (Fatale) and the retired killer drafted for one last assignment against his will (The Prone Gunman)…. Perhaps the renewed chance to read Manchette in English will similarly provoke a new generation of crime writers to douse their work in acid-washed reality.
—Sarah Weinman, The Wall Street Journal

The crime novel,” [Manchette] claimed, “is the great moral literature of our time”—shortly before he set about proving it.
—James Sallis, The Boston Globe

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

Manchette pushes the situationist strategy of dérive and détournement to the point of comic absurdity, throwing a wrench into the workings of his main characters’ lives and gleefully recording the anarchy that results.
—Jennifer Howard, Boston Review