Jean-Patrick Manchette / Fatale (1977)

A disappointing (existential?) plot, with brilliant writing. The main hooks from the story come from its unpredictability. The plot arc follows the lead taken by its characters – it is dysfunctional. The protagonist is a widow who becomes a hit-woman, she kills her latest target having fallen in love with him (possibly), then bumps off all her clients in revenge for the killing she’s done… As you do. Imagine Cornell Woolrich’s The Bride Wore Black but the bride had poisoned the wedding cake that killed the groom, and then went on to slaughter the caterers because they made the original cake. Sort of. The detail and panache of the writing carries you forward. The slender size gave me the sense I was reading something artistic and cerebral – pretentious twat that I am. The final, bloody confrontation had the vengeful excitement of a Spaghetti Western, which was then concluded with Manchette’s characteristic (arty?) obtuseness.

David Peace’s introduction adds bugger all.

I love the cover of my copy from Serpent’s Tail.



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