No-one does contempt for the bourgeoisie quite like the French, and Jean-Patrick Manchette was as hard left as they come. Before succumbing to cancer in 1995 he had re-invented the French noir novel with his own unique brand of hardboiled. In this re-issue of Fatale (translated by Donald Nicholson Smith) we meet a female contract killer called Aimée who goes for rich targets. Before she falls victim to a previously little-used commodity – her own sense of humanity – she blazes a violent and erotic trail through closeted and cosseted French suburban society. Originally titled La belle dame sans merci, this is about as black as it gets, and shows the influence of the American hardboiled novels that Manchette used to translate before becoming an author himself.