Friday Forgotten Books: 120 Rue de la Gare, by Léo Malet

84 Léo Malet. Calle de la Estación, 120. Translated to Spanish by Luisa Feliu. Original title: 120, Rue de la Gare (1942). Libros del Asteroide (2010). 240 pages. ISBN: 978-84-92663-14-9.

Calle de la Estación, 120 is the first novel by Léo Malet featuring private-eye Nestor Burma. Written in 1942, the last year of the German occupation of France during WWII, it was published in 1943.  As some of his books this was adapted to comic by French artist Jacques Tardi.

Nestor Burma, a former Parisian private-eye, is being repatriated from a prisoners’ camp in Germany. The train is taking him to the occupied Paris but it makes a stop at Lyon in the Vichy zone. On the platform he recognises Bob Colomer,a former colleague who is shot dead just after greeting him. Nestor Burma 200px-France_map_Lambert-93_with_regions_and_departments-occupation_svghad only had time to see a woman holding a gun. She looks very much like an actress, Madeleine Moraine. Bob Colomer last words are: 120 Rue de la Gare. Strange enough this address were the same last words that Burma, when he was at the German camp, heard from an amnesic prisoner nicknamed “La Globule”. Thus begins what it is considered by many the first French ‘roman noir’. A fascinating read with an interesting description of everyday life in France during WWII that serves also to introduce an engaging character, Nestor “Dynamite” Burma.

For more information about Leo Malet read here.

See if available at Amazon used.

The map with the occupation zones of France during the Second World War was taken from:

3 thoughts on “Friday Forgotten Books: 120 Rue de la Gare, by Léo Malet”

  1. >Jose Ignacio – Thanks for this review. I have to admit that I'm not familiar with this book, but it does sound fascinating. I like the setting and premise, too. I'm going to have to see if I can find it.

  2. >Jose Ignacio, thanks for bringing this fascinating book to our attention. There was a series that I have forgotten all but the fact that it featured a French policeman and a German policeman during wartime France. This book written during the war sounds even more interesting.

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