Fatale by Jean-Patrick Manchette

Truth be told, I’ve been wanting to talk about this book for a long time. It’s one of those rare reviews I didn’t enjoy writing, because I love this book so much that I don’t think I can really do it justice. Of course, being my blog, I’m going to try to do it as succinctly as possible.

Fatale by Jean-Patrick Manchette is a gleefully vicious, satirical little book – and it is little, coming in at eighty-nine pages. Each sentence is forensically conceived, because the aim of the book puts the emphasis on atmosphere over plot. The plot itself is as thin as the book. We know who the killer is from the first few pages. What we don’t know is everything else. Aimée (not her real name) is the Fatale of the title. She’s all about self-enrichment, and she’ll stop at nothing to get what she wants. What she wants is revenge on the patriarchy, her target the corrupt elite of a small town in France. After arriving in Bléville (it sounds like Bleh-ville to me), Aimée quickly plots their downfall and begins her quest in spectacularly bloody style. But she can only win so many victories before the elite decide to fight back…

I’ve read this novel a few times and I always find something new in it. Sometimes the book is funnier than I remember, other times far more violent. A left-wing activist, Jean-Patrick Manchette definitely imbues this story with his own personal politics. You cheer Aimée on as she exacts a murderous vengeance on the bourgeois, while knowing this can’t end well. It’s a quick read, but full of moments you won’t forget, especially the fourth wall breaking final sentence.

Buy Fatale or order it from your local library.

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