Death Lit: Manchette Under Review

My review of the latest translation from French noir master Jean-Patrick Manchette — No Room at the Morgue — recently popped at PW.

Here’s the really good news — New York Review Books lined up another translator to work on the Manchette oeuvre. For years now it’s been either Donald Nicholson-Smith or James Brook, and I’m not complaining about their product — between them they made Manchette one of my all-time favorite noir writers. But with Alyson Waters added to the mix, it is possible they might translate the rest of Manchette’s novels in my lifetime — I honestly didn’t think it would happen. They might even be able to put his criticism and reviews, such as Chroniques, into my vernacular.

Manchette is legendary for writing ten crime novels and then quitting after he wrote his obvious masterpiece, The Prone Gunman.

But then he made a comeback to write a decades-spanning saga of assassins and spies, supposed to go on book after book. Manchette didn’t quite get the opening finished before his death. That novel-length fragment appeared under the title Ivory Pearl.

Of the previous ten novels, six now have seen American print.

Four left.

I’m hanging on. I can make it, I can make it.

Go, New York Review Books, go!

While the top half of my No Room at the Morgue review presents the info points I sketched in, the wordage is switched up to the point I normally wouldn’t link to it. However, the last couple of sentences are pretty good, and those are mine.

If you’re interested, you’ll find it in the list of Manchette reviews in PW that follows, presented in order of American publication. Surfing around their site, I could not find a review for Nada, so I’ll cover that one on These Mean Streets in the next day or two.

If PW reviewed it, it wasn’t me at the keys.

Of the other reviews, I did all but one — acknowledging whatever editorial input tweaked a few words here or there:

Three to Kill

The Prone Gunman


The Mad and the Bad


No Room at the Morgue


Ivory Pearl

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