An NYRB Classics Original
Winner of the French-American Foundation Translation Prize for Fiction
Michel Hartog, a sometime architect, is a powerful businessman and famous philanthropist whose immense fortune has just grown that much greater following the death of his brother in an accident. Peter is his orphaned nephew—a spoiled brat. Julie is in an insane asylum. Thompson is a hired gunman with a serious ulcer. Michel hires Julie to look after Peter. And he hires Thompson to kill them. Julie and Peter escape. Thompson pursues. Bullets fly. Bodies accumulate.
The craziness is just getting started.
Like Jean-Patrick Manchette’s celebrated Fatale, The Mad and the Bad is a clear-eyed, cold-blooded, pitch-perfect work of creative destruction.
First published in 1972, this taut crime thriller from French neo-noir master Manchette (Fatale) is suffused with the dissipated left-wing malaise of post-'68 France. Wealthy Parisian architect Michel Hartog springs Julie Ballanger from a New Age mental hospital and hires her to look after his nephew, Peter, a boy of six or seven whose parents died in a plane crash. Meanwhile, Thompson, a vicious hit man with a queasy stomach, eats choucroute after a particularly grisly job. A mysterious client recruits Thompson to kidnap Julie and Peter and kill them, making their deaths look like the work of the mentally unstable nanny. But Julie and Peter escape, and are pursued across France by Thompson and his thugs. Will Julie discover who hired Thompson in time to turn the tables, or will nanny flambeau be on the dessert menu? Manchette (1942 1995) unobtrusively weaves his social criticism into the well-paced plot.