Additional Book Information
Series: NYRB Classics
Publication Date: August 11, 2020
No Room at the Morgue
by Jean-Patrick Manchette, translated from the French by Alyson Waters, with an afterword by Howard A. Rodman
An NYRB Classics Original
No Room at the Morgue came out after Jean-Patrick Manchette had transformed French crime fiction with such brilliantly plotted, politically charged, unrelentingly violent tales as Nada and The Mad and the Bad. Here, inspired by his love of Dashiell Hammett, Manchette introduces Eugene Tarpon, private eye, a sometime cop who has set up shop after being kicked off the force for accidentally killing a political demonstrator. Months have passed, and Tarpon desultorily tries to keep in shape while drinking all the time. No one has shown up at the door of his office in the midst of the market district of Les Halles. Then the bell rings and a beautiful woman bursts in, her hands dripping blood. It’s Memphis Charles, her roommate’s throat has been cut, and Memphis can’t go to the police because they’ll only suspect her. Can Tarpon help?
Well, somehow he can’t help trying. Soon bodies mount, and the craziness only grows.
[A] clever crime novel . . . Manchette plays this story for ironic humor . . . Manchette remains essential reading.
If Marx, Freud, and Jim Thompson collaborated on a noir, this might be the result.
Jean-Patrick Manchette—polymath, chess whiz, jazz superenthusiast, comic-book lover, literary genius . . . Manchette was impossibly overgifted, able to do anything supremely well with playful grace and intelligence . . . Manchette compels us to examine the stories we tell ourselves in light of the bigger oppressive stories unfolding around us, to think about history as something we collectively make as well as something that makes us.
"The crime novel," [Manchette] claimed, "is the great moral literature of our time"—shortly before he set about proving it.
—James Sallis, The Boston Globe
Manchette was a decades-long hurricane through the Parisian cultural scene. We must revere him now and rediscover him this very instant. Jean-Patrick Manchette was Le Homme.