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3.60  ·  Rating details ·  1,676 ratings  ·  256 reviews
An NYRB Classics Original

Whether you call her a coldhearted grifter or the soul of modern capitalism, there’s no question that Aimée is a killer and a more than professional one. Now she’s set her eyes on a backwater burg—where, while posing as an innocent (albeit drop-dead gorgeous) newcomer to town, she means to sniff out old grudges and engineer new opportunities, deftl
Paperback, 98 pages
Published April 26th 2011 by NYRB Classics (first published 1977)
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Average rating 3.60  · 
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 ·  1,676 ratings  ·  256 reviews

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Glenn Russell
Jul 31, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorite-books

Femme Fatales of the world, unite! Read French author Jean-Patrick Manchette’s ninety-page coolest of the cool noir novel Fatale to have a sense of what it would really be like to take control of your life.

The author gets right to the point, as in prose as sharp as a well-tempered stainless steel knife. And speaking of knives, here is the slim, athletic, fetching thirty-year-old main character Aimée Joubert on the topic of killing, reflecting back on how she plunged a knife into the liver of he
Jeffrey Keeten
Nov 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
”’It was a genuine revelation, you see,’ said Aimée to the baron.’They can be killed. The real assholes can be killed.’”

 photo Nikita_zpshtpla9d9.jpg
As deadly as she is beautiful.

Aimée arrives in Bléville with a distinct purpose. She is there to mingle and get to know the people of this town. She wants to observe their disagreements, their manners, and wiggle her way into their confidences. She wants to know what there is to know about everyone.

She wants to find out who deserves to die and turn a tidy profit in the pr
Joe Valdez
Sep 09, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction-crime
Why did I read Fatale, a novella by Jean-Patrick Manchette? I feel like a dummy in a film noir, lured by the temptations of a sexy cover, an alluring premise and the premise that I could get away with a devilishly enthralling ride. Manchette was a French crime novelist and translator who got started in the '70s. This slim volume published in 1977 and translated here from French by Donald Nicholson-Smith concerns a young woman going by the name Aimée Joubert who arrives in the town of Bléville to ...more
Algernon (Darth Anyan)
Aug 03, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2016

Well, it's the same as ever, isn't it? It seems slow, but actually it is quite fast. Sex always comes up first. Then money questions. And, then, last, come the old crimes. You have seen other towns, my sweet, and you'll see others, knock on wood.[...] Come on, my sweet, the crimes come last, and you have to be patient.

A beautiful stranger going by the name of Aimee Joubert comes to the town of Bleville, a fictional fishing/industrial/tourist place by the Atlantic Ocean. Bleville, according to
Mar 09, 2016 rated it liked it
Much as I love it when bad things happen to rich people, I can only give this one three stars, and here's why . . .

Aimee has made a career of roaming from town to town, digging the dirt on the most illustrious citizens. She ingratiates herself into their inner circle, joining them at parties and picnics, becoming a friend and confidant, then using their dirty little secrets to take their money before heading on to the next venue. Her latest conquest, Bleville, seems ripe for the picking. As one
Mar 31, 2017 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Hanneke by: Glenn Russell
Monsieur Manchette wrote a French version of a noir crime novel that certainly is reminiscent of 'Black Wings has my Angel' by Elliott Chaze, which the afterword mentioned was indeed an eye opener for him to the genre at a young age. Aimee, the ferocious killer of 'Fatale' gets her kicks by rubbing money notes all over her body just like the killer lady of 'Black Wings'. The image is powerful in an attractive way, I guess, leaving our dangerous protagonist somehow vunerable when she is alone and ...more
Jun 17, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: crime-fiction
The other day someone asked for a french crime novel and he gave a bit of a plot synopsis that was just about the opposite of everything in this book, but it turned out that this was the book he was looking for. He wasn't my customer originally, but I was called in to help and I got it, because I'm sort of well read and have an idea of the books in the sections I work in (lets see one of your brain-dead drones trained on ISO do that corporate brainiacs, oh wait it doesn't matter that I did that ...more
090812: this is my favourite jean-patrick manchette. crime fiction at its best. why…?

this story is so short, sharp, cinematic i feel almost any critique is too long. i like this even more than his other two translated works i have read- three to kill, the prone gunman-, than the jacques tardi graphic novel. why do i favour such very short works over some generally regarded classics such as dfw or bolano or delillo, that if nothing else have the bulk to render big themes on a big canvas? perhaps
David Carr
Feb 07, 2013 rated it did not like it


This book was among a stack of short novels I keep for travel and speed-reads. I picked it up as a kind of palate cleanser before attempting some heavier items. At 20 pages, I put it down; then I picked it up again this afternoon, just to be able to write this review.

First, the NYRB Press deserves great scorn for packaging this as a classic thriller. It is not. It is not thrilling, not mysterious, not enticing, not smart, not ingenious.

Second, but -- Mon Dieu!! -- it is Fr
Apr 02, 2011 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Jacob by: NYRB Book Club
The beautiful and dangerous Aimée Joubert comes to the seaport town of Bléville, looking to stir up trouble, open old wounds, and escape--leaving a few dead bodies and many empty pockets in her wake. But something goes wrong--something goes very, very wrong--and a dash of crime turns into a heap of trouble.

I'm always wary when NYRB Classics publishes slim novella-length books, wondering instead why they don't package a few shorter works together into a volume of more reasonable length. Leonardo
Nate D
Jun 02, 2014 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: only the naive were shocked by these revelations
Recommended to Nate D by: The unexceptional foregone conclusion of corruption
The back cover offers that Manchette considered crime novels "the great moral literature of our time", and so we get this bleak, perfect takedown of the terribly ordinary corruption and deficit of meaning of capitalist post-war society. As a kind of procedural of a passionless destroyer, it unfolds in succinct, crisp detail, revealing only what is needed, avoiding excessive movements until all is in place for total collapse. Though clearly a crime novel of a sort, it's also clearly metaphysicall ...more
May 09, 2012 rated it liked it
He's received glowing recommendations, not least in comparison to my other recent discovery from 70's noirville Derek Raymond but perhaps I started in the wrong place to be as enamouried of this book by Manchette, the master of the French roman noir as I was hoping.

The pared now matter of fact prose means that at around 90 pages it's not as short as you might think, cramming a lot of the essentials in to as few words as possible. However I felt from the very beginning that there was something mi
Oct 19, 2011 rated it really liked it
Some crime novels read like film noir...with this one, rather than watching a movie, I felt like I was watching an oil painting: thick, dark paint in wild and colorful, angry splotches...

The novella is taut. The ride is fascinating and increasingly over-the-top. Aimee is a killer, who first enmeshes her targets, the fat wealthy corrupt petty merchants and capitalists of Bleville, in a nicely drawn net knitted of their own corrupt machinations, and you're not sorry to see them knocked off. She he
Fabulous start, wonderful descriptive prose, straightforward plot, charmingly ruthless femme fatale.

The first half of the book is superb, but then looses focus, and ends quite chaotically with a highly implausible climax. Too bad.

Bléville is, literally, Wheatville, but blé in a slang sense means money. The town’s name is thus something like Doughville.

1.0% "... from the foreword...
"IN AUGUST 1980, in a homage to Dashiell Hammett entitled A Toast to Dash, Jean-Patrick Manchette declared
Aug 07, 2020 rated it liked it
3.5 stars
Couldn't go along with this. Perhaps due to translation, though every effort seems to have been made in that direction. Perhaps due to the heroine being a prototype violent-hipster-I-don't-care chick, and one that sort of prefigures the one in the Girl-Who series by Stieg Larsson. Of which I am not enamored.

Wants to be anarchic, searing, nihilist, hard-edged modern. Alain Robbe-Grillet packing heat. Comes off as a kind of homage to pulp or B-films with a veneer of philosophy to smear genres. Or
I normally love the offerings from the NYRB Classics and have found some real gems. The synopsis for this novella sounded intriguing to say the least, a beautiful deadly femme fatale with an agenda who arrives in a small provincial French town and immediately gets down to business.

I really struggled to connect with this, the translation didn't help - it seemed all over the place and didn't help with the at times sparse, manic feel of the story. I've read "noir" before and loved it, but this nove
Jason Coleman
Feb 06, 2014 rated it it was ok
Welcome to Bléville, home of French allegory. No cheap thrills to be found here, writers like Manchette put their noir to work. This highly artificial story is no entertainment; it is a social satire of the bourgeoisie. The murderess-heroine relocates to a new town and stumbles immediately into the highest banality (the locals' idea of a good time is the opening of a new fish market). She ingratiates herself with the upper-middle class, learns their secrets, and pits the fools against each other ...more
Jul 21, 2011 rated it really liked it
This noir piece is the first I have read by Jean-Patrick Manchette. It is a slim volume, republished by The New York Review of Books, Classics imprint: even with the Afterword by Jean Echenoz it has only ninety-eight pages. The heroine is cold—a killer that plots with terrifying calm. But Manchette has a soft spot for her. He dresses her in silks and keeps her groomed and exercised (she brushes up on her defensive skills by taking judo).

Even without an overt political cast, Manchette clearly has
May 01, 2011 rated it liked it
My favorite thing about this book is that it is a 90-page novella that can be read and enjoyed in less than two hours. I went into it hoping for a violent and exciting crime caper, and I got about half of what I was hoping for. In fact, Manchette manages to include a surprising amount of character development into the story, considering how short the entire affair is.

If Dashiell Hammett is an 11 on the Spinal Tap Scale, then Manchette's novella is a 7. The setup is superb, the titular fatale is
J.M. Hushour
Sep 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A terse, curt, almost rude quickie of a crime novel. It isn't a genre I typically read, but I'm like 20 for 20 with NYRB so I snatch these up blindly.
There is so much that is great about this little novel that it is hard to know where to begin. You get little to go off of and Manchette pulls that off--you almost feel like you're watching the last few episodes of the last season of a show you've been binge-watching for a couple of years. The whole story crashes suddenly into your lap with all its
Apr 28, 2011 rated it really liked it
A tough little superb French noir novel that is sort of a revenge against the rich and mighty, but also a snapshot image of class difference and hatred due to that difference. The main character is sort of a professional serial killer, who is a shark looking for the rich to kill. And like all classic noir novels, there is not a wasted word in the book. Manchette for sure has that "it" quality down, and i pray that more of this late writer's work will come out. So far three novels and two graphi ...more
Feb 18, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I picked up Fatale because I liked the cover, because it had an introduction by David Peace, and because it's published by Serpent's Tail. I knew nothing about the book or Jean-Patrick Manchette.

Fatale is a quick, easy read. Lots of people die and Aimée Joubert, the femme fatale protagonist, is a splendidly idiosyncratic and flawed avenging angel with her sights trained on the small town parochialism and corruption of Bléville.

On one level it's ridiculous, on another it's magnificent. Either w
Andy Weston
May 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Aimee is the 'femme fatale' in Manchette's classic novel. Rather than admit it's taken me so long to read, I would prefer to say, I have been saving it... that's certainly been the case for last couple of years, but it was written in 1977...

Aimee is a wonderful creation, she eipitomises that title, she snares her lovers into compromising, dangerous, and deadly situations. She uses beauty, charm, and allure to trap her prey.

It was originally classed as Roman Noir, a style of writing initiated in
May 04, 2011 rated it really liked it
OK, that was pretty awesome. A short, fast-paced noir that builds to a blood drenched, uncompromising finale and a fantastic last couple of lines that are just too much (which makes it even better!) The opening is pretty great too, a doomed hunting expedition, dropping you right into the work of the main character, a mysterious killer for hire, a nihilist, adept at disguise and disappearing on a dime. Her MO ("Modus Operandi!" - to quote Gordon Cole) is to go from town to town, creating a tempor ...more
Bran Gustafson
Feb 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This shotgun blast of a noir novel hits hard and was over fast, and I enjoyed every second of it. It's my favorite type of story--the kind with no good guys, just characters that are varying levels of bad.

It basically takes the classic femme fatale character from noir fiction (the one who double crosses the protagonist and leads to his downfall) and makes her the protagonist. Aimèe is an attractive and deadly woman who goes from town to town, manipulating rich men and murdering for money. Most o
Nov 15, 2015 added it
Shelves: noir, crime-mystery
This one, though, was a disappointment. It seems City Lights got the good ones, with NYRB trying to cash in on what was left.
Kevin Jones
Aug 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
“They can be killed. The real assholes can be killed. Anyway, I needed money but I didn’t want to work.” Perhaps no statement sums up FATALE more succinctly than main character Aimee’s explanation of how she went from abused housewife to nihilistic killing machine. This book is a wild ride of propulsive action that sucks you in to it’s dark vision of a corrupt world where things only end one way. Another brilliant Manchette book.
Wilde Sky
Feb 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
A ruthless female killer travels around looking for people / situations to exploit.

This novella was very fast paced ‎and enjoyable, but the shortness of the work meant there wasn't much character development and in some places there were plot jumps.
Elf M.
Oct 30, 2011 rated it it was ok
I picked out Fatale by Jean-Patrick Manchette, based on a comment by a friend of mine. The comment was many months in the past, so I was surprised to stumble across the book at the local library. I read it through-- it's only 80 pages or so-- and I have to say that I'm disappointed.

Manchette is thought to be France's greatest roman noir writer, with a kind of post-modern hardboiled sensibility. Fatale is supposed to be one of his best works, but I didn't see it.

(view spoiler)
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Jean-Patrick Manchette was a French crime novelist credited with reinventing and reinvigorating the genre. He wrote ten short novels in the seventies and early eighties, and is widely recognized as the foremost French crime fiction author of the 1970s - 1980s . His stories are violent, existentialist explorations of the human condition and French society.

Manchette was politically to the left and

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“It was a genuine revelation, you see," said Aimée to the baron. "They can be killed. The real assholes can be killed.” 10 likes
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