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Aldous Huxley
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Death of a Marseilles Man: A Nestor Burma Mystery (Crime Case)

Death of a Marseilles Man: A Nestor Burma Mystery (Crime Case) - Leo Malet Léo Malet is one of my favourite crime writers. He happens to have been a combination of things I admire: a member of the Surrealist group in the 1930′s and the instigator of French Noir crime fiction. Before Nestor Burma – Leo Mallets detective French crime tended to be imitations of American Hardboiled crime. Knock-off Chandlers and Hammetts. Through the early part of World War Two, this was how Mallet made his money – it was also the cause of his split with The Surrealists. Then Malet stopped writing novels set in American cities which he’d never visited and wrote one set in the city he’d live in for most of his adult lie, Paris. The rest is French Noir, Hardboiled, Crime-Fiction History.My French is not good enough to read the original versions (except any lines where Burma says: I’d like a coffee please, or can you direct me to the train station, I have a train to catch.The problem is that Burma knows Paris inside out and so doesn’t need directions. He doesn’t drink much coffee either, preferring something stronger. So for me, for now, this is good-bye to Nestor Burma. I’ve read all the books which have been translated into English, and look longingly at the forty or so which haven’t.This story opens with Burma waiting for his secretary at the train station. She’s been down in the South. He then finds himself at the fairground where somebody jumps him and tries to throw him out of a scenic railway. I’m not certain what a scenic railway is but it goes up high and if you fall out of the carriage you can be crippled or die. Each of those things happened to the two people who fell out of this carriage (on separate occasions). One of them had been thrown out after a struggle with Burma. There are a few femme fatales, some no-good delinquents (I think that’s the suitable mid-1950s turn for them.) Then there are the twists and turns as Burma puts the case together (see, I’m trying not to let you know the butler did it).The ending itself is a little sour. Being the last book I’ll be able to read of Mallet’s for a while I like that. I don’t part easily from this series. If anybody were to start translating them they have a ready market in me.