Three To Kill

Three To Kill

4.0 1
by Jean-Patrick Manchette
     
 

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Businessman Georges Gerfaut witnesses a murder—and is pursued by the killers. His conventional life knocked off the rails, Gerfaut turns the tables and sets out to track down his pursuers. Along the way, he learns a thing or two about himself.... Manchette—masterful stylist, ironist, and social critic—limns the cramped lives of professionals in a

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Overview

Businessman Georges Gerfaut witnesses a murder—and is pursued by the killers. His conventional life knocked off the rails, Gerfaut turns the tables and sets out to track down his pursuers. Along the way, he learns a thing or two about himself.... Manchette—masterful stylist, ironist, and social critic—limns the cramped lives of professionals in a neo-conservative world.

Jean-Patrick Manchette (1942—1995) rescued the French crime novel from the grip of stodgy police procedurals—restoring the noir edge by virtue of his post-1968 leftism. Today, Manchette is a totem to the generation of French mystery writers who came in his wake. Jazz saxophonist, political activist, and screen writer, Manchette was influenced as much by Guy Debord as by Gustave Flaubert.

Editorial Reviews

Boston Globe
In France, which long ago embraced American crime fiction, thrillers are referred to polars. And in France the godfather and wizard of polars is Jean-Patrick Manchette.....For Manchette and his generation of writers who followed him, the crime novel is no mere entertainment, but a means to strip bare the failures of society, ripping through veils of appearance, deceit, and manipulation to the greed and violence that are the society's true engines.
Publishers Weekly
Backed by a tremendous European reputation, one of the stars of Gallimard's S rie Noire comes to America with a lean thriller, in a brilliant new translation. Manchette (1942-1995) did translations himself, as well as leftist political writing, potboilers and TV scripts, but his 10 crime novels composed between 1971 and 1982 are considered his masterworks. This 1976 title features the ordinary businessman Georges Gerfaut, drawn by chance into the net cast by two hit men, Carlo and Bastien, working on assignment for the mysterious "Mr. Taylor." For no reason Gerfaut can comprehend, the pair are suddenly trying to kill him, and he must flee for his life. The theme of paranoid man-on-the-run is a staple of B-thrillers, but the author shows such superb lan in handling the material that it almost seems as if he's the first to craft it, using cinematic narrative techniques that switch the perspective backward and forward in time. Manchette makes pop culture references throughout, noting Gerfaut "did have a look of Robert Redford. But, like a lot of men, he didn't much care for Robert Redford." Describing the huge cache of guns Carlo and Bastien lug about in their murderous trade, he asks, "Should such an arsenal be considered impressive or simply grotesque?" The occasional touches of dark humor recall Charles Willeford, the passages of sinewy prose the spare musculature of Richard Stark's early Parker novels. Manchette is a must for the reading lists of all noir fans. (Mar.) Forecast: This edition, supported by a French government grant, is most likely to reach an audience that shares the author's left-wing politics. Manchette deserves a higher profile among noir fans (in the Black Lizard series, for example), but his being a dead non-Anglophone foreigner makes the wider dissemination of his work an uphill climb. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A first appearance in English for the late Manchette (1942-95). Near the end of this sleek noir thriller, Georges Gerfaut sums up the plot thus far for an enigmatic beauty named Alphonsine, who may or may not help him: "Until last summer I was a middle manager in a company in Paris. I went on vacation and two men tried to kill me, twice, for reasons unknown to me. Two complete strangers. At which point I left my wife and children and, instead of informing the police, fled." (The unanswered "Why?" pulses provocatively under the surface.)? Gerfaut goes on to recount several harrowing close calls over the previous months. He begins as an homme in a gray flannel suit, leading a comfortable but unexciting bourgeois life. The accoutrements of his Mercedes-steel-gray with brown interior-are described with clinical precision. Late one night, he plays Good Samaritan, picking up an injured man on the side of the highway and taking him to a hospital. The man, Mouzon, is bleeding heavily and can barely speak. Three days later comes the first of several attempts on Gerfaut's life, ordered by creepy-elegant crime kingpin Alonso Emerich y Emerich, who loves only his bull mastiff Elizabeth, but her excessively, and carried out by the volatile hitmen Carlo and Bastien. They finish off Mouzon before devoting themselves completely to the pursuit of Gerfaut. A social satire cum suspense equally interested in dissecting everyday banalities and manufacturing thrills. Writing with economy, deadpan irony, and an eye for the devastating detail, Manchette spins pulp fiction into literature.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780872863958
Publisher:
City Lights Books
Publication date:
01/01/2002
Pages:
185
Sales rank:
634,714
Product dimensions:
5.00(w) x 7.30(h) x 0.40(d)

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Three To Kill 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Jon_B More than 1 year ago
An interesting and quick read that goes a long way towards providing social and political context without bogging down the plot. The story itself is very simple, the protagonist a bit more complex, but I loved how the riots of 1968 and France's ongoing labor issues are a persistent background without impacting the plot, it provides a sense of realism and implies a sort of national mood that makes this type of character possible. I also love the way that music is constantly mentioned. American readers might be put off by some of the references if they are unfamiliar with France's history during the 1960's and 70's but even so I think the style and the nature of the protagonist will be appealing for many. I read Jacques Tardi's graphic novel version of this first (recommended below), which is also pretty good, though lacking in much of the background.