Fatale – Jean-Patrick Manchette, Afterword by Jean Echenoz, (Translated from the French by Donald Nicholson-Smith)

(Reviewed by JD Jung)

” I don’t tell them I’m a killer. I’m a woman, and they wouldn’t take me seriously. I tell them that I know a killer. Sometimes I let them assume that he is my lover. That makes them jealous. It’s fun.”

This thirty to thirty-five year old woman-we’ll refer to by one of her aliases, Aimée Joubert-goes from town to town in different identities and appearances, ingratiating herself to the wealthy and those of high social status. She observes the dynamics between groups and individuals, and tries to find out who wants to kill who. She puts the idea in their head, which was really already there and takes advantage of that.

Of course, in all stories “good things must come to an end”, and Aimée’s gig is no exception. At one point she hesitates and that is the cause of her demise.  It’s a surprise for the reader, as it’s not when you think she would; nor would you think that the person or event would have that much of an effect on her

This quick Roman noir thriller at under 100 pages reflects much of what I enjoy reading from the late Jean-Patrick Manchette.  Though the violence is vivid and his prose dark and gritty, he intersperses a bit of humor amidst it all.  All this is accomplished as he maintains a certain detachment from his characters.

As in 3 to Kill, is Manchette trying to make a broader statement?

In any event, those who relish Manchette’s style will certainly enjoy Fatale.





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