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.
"[Manchette's] writing is lean and relentless, a brutal evocation of a world in which conventional morality is just another lie we tell ourselves...The Mad and the Bad is so dark it redefines noir: bleak and pointed, yes, but also infused with an understanding that what passes between us is not only compromised but more often faithless, less a matter of commitment or connection than a kind of unrelenting animal need." —David L. Ulin, Los Angeles Times
"A beautiful woman is freed from an insane asylum by a rich philanthropist who wants her to care for his nephew. But when the nanny and her charge are kidnapped, it’s not the ransom plot it appears—in fact, as they escape and flee the gunmen hired to kill them, the truth of the situation is clearly a metaphor for the left-leaning author’s deep cynicism about French society. Scenes play out like an art film—Manchette was also a screenwriter—right up until the prolonged, blood-splattered finale." —Booklist
The Mad and the Bad by Jean-Patrick Manchette
NYRB Classics 2014