mad-and-badHe felt envy for Fuentès, which reminded him that he had to kill the man. The Arminius was in his left hand. Hartog crouched among the flowers and kept watch. From not far away, behind the walls, came the sound of gunfire. He counted four reports. He waited.

On April 29th, 1977, Jean-Patrick Manchette wrote in his diary that his editors at Gallimard’s famed Série Noire didn’t like Fatale (which was then titled La Belle Dame Sans Merci, after Keats’s poem of the same name), which prompted Manchette to request that it be published outside this legendary series of crime novels. He writes: “This negative response clearly shows what I should never forget: I alone (with Melissa [his wife, to whom Fatale is dedicated]) understand what I do.” The day after that he records a kind of statement of intention as an artist, reminding us just how much Manchette was a man of the Left, though his works could never truly be considered polemical. “I would prefer,” he writes, “to be contributing to the communist revolution. As of now I haven’t come up with a single thing to do for it. Thus my intention is solely to entertain, to distract.” Which doesn’t mean that politics doesn’t play a role in his novels.