Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Review: "Fatale" by Jean Patrick Manchette

The most striking aspect of Fatale, the short novel by famous French crime novelist Jean Patrick Manchette is its action sequences. Like this and the other novel of his I have read, The Mad and the Bad, itself also very short and a rather successful long form action scene, the action is vivid and alive, with a great sense of place and what is happening around it. Even though this book is a bit murky when it comes to our female protagonists motivations (and at 90 pages, 98 with the Afterword, there isn’t a lot of time to figure them out), it still makes for an interesting and exciting read for the amount of time or the lack thereof, you spend with it. It begins with a rather striking scene of swift violence, as a hunter, after popping a squat, is intruded upon by a woman he is familiar with, who immediately kills him. In the next scene, the woman is washing the black dye out of her hair on a train bathroom, on her way to a small French town known as Bleville, which is loosely translated in Doughville or “Moneyville if you will. There, she entrenches herself in the town’s people and their conflicts, and at a party, she sees a man pissing on the side of the building, a man who becomes a perfect target for her bloodlust. There isn’t a lot of time spent on introspection, which is both to this book’s detriment and strength. You are interested in what is happening, but you are left out when it comes to identifying with anyone of them. During a pivotal scene, one right before the brilliant action scene, the woman reveals why she likes killing, but along with her fake name, we are left wondering if the story is even true. Climaxing in a stalk and kill scene with a bleak ending, this swift, borderline nihilistic novel will easily whet your appetite for carnage. 
Rating: 4/5

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