by Jean-Patrick Manchette, translated from the French by Donald Nicholson-Smith, with an afterword by Gary Indiana
An NYRB Classics Original
La princesse du sang—Ivory Pearl—which was published posthumously, and unfinished, in 1996, is considered by many French critics to be Manchette’s masterpiece. In the early 1980s he abandoned his attempt to “press the roman noir into the service of the social revolution” and turned his pen to other things. By the end of that decade, however, he resolved to start anew, working on a broader, geopolitical canvas. Inspiration now came less from Dashiell Hammett than from John le Carré and, especially, from the works of Ross Thomas that Manchette had been translating.
Sadly, Manchette’s early death from cancer in 1995 put an end to this grand project. What remains, however, is Ivory Pearl, set mainly in Cuba’s Sierra Maestra in the 1950s. The book will not disappoint those who admire Manchette’s mastery of suspense and penchant for dauntless feminine protagonists.
[Manchette’s] writing is lean and relentless.
—David L. Ulin, Los Angeles Times
In France, which long ago embraced American crime fiction, thrillers are referred to as polars. And in France the godfather and wizard of polars is Jean-Patrick Manchette.... [H]e’s a massive figure.... There is gristle here, there is bone.
—The Boston Globe
Manchette is legend among all of the crime writers I know, and with good reason: His novels never fail to stun and thrill from page one.
—Duane Swierczynski, author of Expiration Date
Manchette called crime novels ‘the great moral literature of our time.’ Manchette pushes the Situationist strategy of derive and détournement to the point of comic absurdity, throwing a wrench into the workings of his main characters’ lives and gleefully recording the anarchy that results.
—Jennifer Howard, Boston Review