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Skeletons in the Closet

Skeletons in the Closet

by Jean-Patrick Manchette, translated from the French by Alyson Waters

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The December 2023 selection of the NYRB Classics Book Club

Private eye Eugéne Tarpon is back to sleeping in his office, waiting for a paying job to turn up. Then he gets a call from a sometime contact in the police department. He's referring a nice old lady—a distant relative—to Tarpon; her daughter's gone missing and, the copy says, there's no finding her. There are no leads. She's gone. But the old lady's pigheaded. Do me a favor, he tells Tarpon. Humor her. Take her off our hands. Take her money, too. And, by the way, there's no need to investigate the actual business at all.

Tarpon may be down and out, but he's too much of a gentleman for that. Plus, fed an obviously fishy story, he doesn't have it in him to let well enough alone.

Once again, Tarpon is making a very big mistake.

Additional Book Information

Series: NYRB Classics
ISBN: 9781681377605
Pages: 160
Publication Date:


I’m already on record saying that I’d rather read the French noir writer — even one of his less-than-successful efforts — than most contemporary genre writers, and Skeletons in the up there with his brutal best.
—Sarah Weinman, The New York Times

Manchette—polymath, chess whiz, jazz superenthusiast, comic-book lover, literary genius....He 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.
—Gary Indiana

Jean-Patrick 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.
—James Ellroy

Writing so dark it gives a new meaning to the world noir.
—Frederick Méziès

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