Review- Manchette, “The Mad and the Bad”

Jean-Patrick Manchette, “The Mad and the Bad” (1972) (translated from the French by Donald Nicholson-Smith) – Critics see crime novelist Jean-Patrick Manchette and filmmaker Jean-Pierre Melville as mutually influential on each other, but in this crime novel by the former, there’s a certain Coen Brothers feel. A failed architect who lucked into big money tries to have his brat nephew bumped off. He hires a caretaker from a sort of anti-psychiatric mental asylum (this was when the anti-psychiatry movement in psychology was big in France) as a fall girl. She turns out to be more resilient than he anticipated. The killers are less formidable than their employer might have liked, even if they are randomly dangerous- one is hindered by a stomach ulcer, the effects of which Manchette details extensively. The girl and the nephew escape from one perilous ambush situation after another, and wind up confronting the uncle alongside the uncle’s spurned former architecture partner. The final showdown takes place at a sort of surrealist parody mansion which messes with everyone’s sense of distance and proportion. All in all, a decent, quick read that seems very much “of it’s time.” ***’

Review- Manchette, “The Mad and the Bad”

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