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Fatale (New York Review Books Classics) Paperback – 26 Apr 2011

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Product details

  • Paperback: 98 pages
  • Publisher: New York Review of Books (26 April 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1590173813
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590173817
  • Product Dimensions: 12.8 x 1 x 20.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 507,847 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


France's king of noir fiction ... he writes with a bleak, tragic beauty (The Times)

Manchette throws a wrench into the workings of the main characters' lives and gleefully records the anarchy that results (Boston Review)

A fist between the eyes, leaving the reader reeling ... so devastating it takes your breath away (Complete Review)

Extraordinary ... Aimee is a glorious creation ... the tension and drama ramp up to a bloody and chaotic climax delivered in the same stark, bleak prose as the rest of the story ... That a story so shocking, funny, sad, smart and cool is delivered in only 91 pages is nothing short of a miracle. Uncompromising and utterly convincing, it's a macabre delight from start to finish. (Doug Johnstone Big Issue 2015-04-17)

[An] impressive and enjoyable dark farce (Morning Star 2015-04-30) --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Book Description

Small-town politics can be vicious --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Barton Keyes on 10 May 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Manchette's noir thrillers could hold their own in any company. This one is sandwiched in the chronology of his writing between the stupendous Three to a Kill and the nearly-as-good The Prone Gunman. As an exercise in stripped-down writing it is excellent but, written slightly off his best pace, it is also slightly odd.

It starts off like a standard thriller and then begins to develop a slightly surrealistic tone, so that by the end it develops the pace of a series of linked film scenes. Very short, lacking much detailed characterisation outside a fairly detailed initial description of the main character it has a cinematic concentration on scene rather than the novel's concentration on plot.

It is nonetheless very good as an exercise in gripping thriller writing. They don't get much more noir than this.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By William Jordan on 21 July 2012
Format: Paperback
Aimee has become a professional killer who goes round sniffing out hypocrisy, crimes and misdemeanours, making money from them through blackmail and killing the evaders for good measure. She then visits Bleville, where most of the town is in fact deeply corrupt...

There are scenes of violence, including an extended denouement, and some ideas to reflect on - but little by way of characterisation, and the suspense the plot induces is like that of a chess game, rather than anything too emotionally gripping...

The translation (into American English) probably is not doing justice to idiomatic French - or at least that's how it seemed to this reader.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A strange woman with mixed motives takes on the local male bourgeoisie with deadly results, The characters are sharply observed allowing the reader some sympathy for her actions. Blacker than black.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 12 reviews
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Twisted Gothic Entertainment 8 Jun. 2011
By John Sollami - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This compact roman noir starts off with a bang. It grabbed me from the very first chapter and kept on going. J.P. Manchette's gothic detailing and invention of the driven, single-minded character of Aimee Joubert is a little gem. Its plotting, its cynicism, and its deadly main character reminded me of Stieg Larsson's trilogy. Aimee would find a friend in Lisbeth Salander. In fact it wouldn't surprise me if Larsson knew this book. The plot is loaded with crazed characters, most of whom are rich and despicable. They are parodies of "leading" town citizens: rich corrupt businessmen, a nasty reporter, an adulterous town doctor, a pompous real estate agent, and so on. Aimee, who has already changed her identity six or seven times before arriving at Bleville, where the town motto is KEEP YOUR TOWN CLEAN!, hates them all and spends her time trying to discover the easiest way to exploit their petty conflicts for her own enrichment. I laughed out loud at some of the ridiculous plot twists and absurd deaths sprinkled throughout the book. And the character of The Baron is a fine study of an alienated, debauched, uninhibited lunatic who is hated by everyone. The final pages are a riot! What's also essential for the reader is the Afterword by Jean Echenoz. It's a must-read piece of analysis and shows you how much Manchette accomplishes in just 90 pages (the type is small, though). Recommended for jaded readers with a sense of humor.
18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
So-so pulp crime novel 9 May 2011
By DCB - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
In this short but violent French noir thriller, a Female assassin travels to a French seaside town, where she insinuates herself into elite society in order to exploit internecine rivalries among the elites for her own profit. At a mere 90 pages, this is more a novella than a novel, and the chapters are correspondingly short, usually 3 to 6 pages. The first few chapters are fast paced, and do a good job of introducing Aimee, the female assassin. The middle of the book drags a bit as the somewhat contrived and implausible scheme is developed. But the plot is essentially just a vehicle to get to the bloody denouement of the final two chapters. I don't know if Quentin Tarantino was a fan of Manchette, but with its pulp noir imagery and as a graphic celebration of the violent self-destruction of corrupt groups and individuals, this work certainly seems like it could have been an influence on some of his films.

Overall, I can only give this book a lukewarm recommendation. Fans of pulp crime fiction and Quentin Tarantino films may enjoy this as a "quick read". Most of the supporting characters are little more than generic cardboard cut-outs: the greedy corporate bad guys, the corrupt police captain, the slimy tabloid reporter sniffing out dirt on everyone. The reader must also be able to overlook certain inconsistancies in the behavior of the lead character, as well as the contrivances of the plot.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Bleak and brutal 26 Feb. 2012
By Cary Watson - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
When reviewing a crime novel it's normally pretty easy to come up with a comparable author or book. Not in this case. Fatale is blunt, brief and brutal; its style brings to mind comics or graphic novels, or a particularly vicious B-movie. That's not to say it's junky or pulpy; this is a proper novel, with crisp, direct prose and a mandate to put the boots to the French upper middle-class.

The central character is Aimee, an attractive woman who travels from town to town infiltrating the local upper crust and then blackmails them once she's found out their dirty secrets. Oh, and she also usually murders her victims after she's got the cash. Aimee arrives in Bleville, a coastal town in northern France, and soon finds that there's no shortage of victims for her blackmail scheme. The denouement finds Aimee facing off against a gang of Bleville's notables. The body count is very high.

A synopsis of the plot can make this novel sound ludicrous and sensational, but that's clearly not what Manchette was striving for. Fatale is almost a schematic of how the upper bourgeoisie acts and reacts to threats and temptations. Aimee is partly an avenging angel and partly a victim of bourgeois culture. She, like a good capitalist, sees society purely in terms of its utility to her: what parts of it can be used to her profit, what parts can be eliminated because they hinder her. In short, Aimee's motivating philosophy would seem to be exploit others before they exploit you.

Fatale is definitely not going to be everyone's cup of tea. It's bleak and cruel, and the tone of the writing is dry and sometimes startlingly matter-of-fact. Machette wrote a handful of other novels but not many of them seem to be available in English.

Read more of my reviews at JettisonCocoon dot com.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Review 2 Aug. 2012
By CB - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Jean-Patrick Manchette's novel, Three to Kill, was so good, I ordered Fatale. The tone of Fatale is remarkably different than Three to Kill, and outside length, there aren't many similarities. Nonetheless Fatale was, for me, a five star novel.

It's hard to discuss a book like Fatale without instantly loading the review with spoilers. I won't give anything paramount away, thus the review won't be very informative. The opening chapter is a murder, where the descriptive details of the scenery, outfits, and ages of a hunting band, are as in depth as the actual murder that takes place. Yet, despite any serious description, or psychological portfolio, it's implicitly clear that the murder was not whimsical, but deliberately calculated with some long-running motive. For a crime noir, this is the catalyst and momentum for majority of the story. Little suspense, nor action, will follow suit, but the constant question of `what the hell happened back in chapter 1' will you keep you reading as if the novel is an edge of your seat thriller.

Several weeks later we find the murderer moving into a bourgeoisie caste society, where the well to do have barred themselves away from everyone else, and spend all their time partying, dining, gambling, and gossiping, while their invested capital collects staggering interest. The old maxim that money doesn't buy happiness is readily apparent, but what is more apparent is the constant Hegelian contradictions of bourgeoisie life, and capital investment. The towns raving mad man - a poser Marxist and Hegelian - shows up to these party's spouting mad rants (or philosophic truths...?), about the sheer contradictory nature of this well-to-do society, and its rotten essence underlining the appearance of wealth. These contradictions start to manifest themselves in material ways, which quickly lead to an excess of black mail, murder, adultery, and all that juicy stuff that is usually found in a noir. The murderer from chapter 1 plays an intricate role in how these crimes are manifested, and responded to, but to elucidate this point would ruin any surprises to be found within the novel.

There's one more Manchette novel translated into English - The Prone Gunman - that I plan to order. Hopefully it's on par with the other two.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Oh, I get it. It's French. 28 Mar. 2013
By propertius - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Without dwelling on the length of this book, let us agree to call it a novella. As such, it should have the same compactness of a short story or intensity. If you are troubled by the ending of this book or its format, think about Luis Bunuel's Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie, Jean-Pierre Melville's films, La Femme Nikita etc.

Typical of many French works, this is heavy on atmospherics which delghtfully disguise theory. Remember this is a French work and they are the race that gave us Descartes and Sartre. Briefly this is a tale of a female hit woman who improbably finds employment by insinuating herself among the bourgeoisie, observing them, and subtly suggesting to them that she may know someone who can help them. And away we go.

However anyone who wishes to learn to write well should pay particular attention to the first several page of the book and the final scene which takes place between our anti-hero Aimee Joubert and the entire ruling elite of the town. It is some of the best fast-paced action sequences which you will come upon.
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