Monday, December 31, 2012

Fatale by Jean-Patrick Manchette (NYRB Classics 1977)

"I am unarmed," said Lorque. "I want to talk to you. Listen here, I don't deserve to die. What have I done except follow the natural impulses of the human race? And even that is saying a lot. We are choirboys compared with our ancestors. Does the sack of Cartagena ring any bells with you? Some of Bléville's bold seafarers were there. I'm not talking about the first sack of Cartagena, that was Sir Francis Drake, but the second, when the French did the sacking. What I've done is nothing alongside the sack of Cartagena. Okay, so I worked a bit on the Atlantic Wall, I had to keep a low profile in South America for a while, then I came back and I've been giving employment to workers and making land productive. I've made my pile in the usual way. Just tell me one outrageous thing, one truly criminal thing, in what I've done, in what the baron had in his files, just name one!"

"I haven't read the baron's files," said Aimée. Lorque tensed and listened hard, apparently striving to determine the precise source of the young woman's voice. "I couldn't care less," Aimée observed. "Do you really imagine I'm interested in your crimes and misdemeanors? You must be joking!"