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:

Visit to Madrid 2010 Book Fair

VPR 309 I restrained myself yesterday during my first visit to the 2010 Madrid Book Fair and I only bought three books taking advantage of the traditional 10% discount that you can get there. My criteria was to buy books either written originally in Spanish or recently translated from a language I cannot read fluently, particularly if they are not available cheaper in English via an on-line bookshop. My intention was also to buy books priced over and above 16.00 €, to take full advantage of the discount given. The result can be found in the enclosed picture:

La playa de los ahogados by Domingo Villar (Siruela, 2009) 19.90 €. Featuring Inspector Leo Caldas. You can find here the excellent review of Maxine at Petrona of Water-blue Eyes, Leo Caldas # 1.

Calle de la Estación, 120 by Léo Malet (Asteroide, 2010) 16.95 €. Original title 120, rue de la Gare (1943). The English translation is out of print as far as I know. Léo Malet at Wikipedia.

Muerte y un poco de amor by Alexandra Marinina (Pamies, 2010) 19.95 €. Alexandra Marinina at Wikipedia. Pen-name of Marina Anatolyevna Alekseyeva. She has written over 30 novels, published in over 17 million copies and translated into over 20 languages. (The only English translation presently available is of her Confluence of Circumstances, which was published in Soviet & Post-Soviet Review, Vol. 29, 2002.)

With over 50 books on my TBR pile and above 100 in my wish list I will refrain from buying more books, at least for a couple of days.

Special thanks to Alice Silver at Mis detectives favorit@s. A real fan of Domingo Villar and Alexandra Marinina.  Her latest post: Otros lugares, otros sonidos, otras miradas. Escribir fuera de Madrid o Barcelona, is very interesting.

Madrid 2010 Book Fair Official Site

>120, Rue de la Gare – Léo Malet

>I’ve just come across 120, rue de la Gare (1943) by Léo Malet. No doubt it will be my next adquisition and I’m sure it will move quickly into the top of my TBR list. It sounds absolutely fantastic to me.

Following is the information from Wikipedia:

Léo Malet (1909 – 1996), a French crime novelist, was born in Montpellier. He had little formal education and began work as a cabaret singer at “La Vache Enragee” in Montmartre, Paris in 1925. In the 1930s, he was closely aligned with the Surrealists, and was close friends with André Breton, René Magritte and Yves Tanguy amongst others. During this time, he published several volumes of poetry. He died in Chatillon, the little town just south of Paris where he had lived for most of his life, the day before his 87th birthday.

Though having dabbled in many genres, he is most famous for Nestor Burma, the anti-hero of Les Nouveaux Mystères de Paris. Burma, a cynical private detective, is an astute speaker of argot (French slang), an ex-Anarchist, a serial monogamist and an inveterate pipe smoker. Of the 33 novels detailing his adventures 18 take place in a sole arrondissement of Paris, in a sub-series of his exploits which Malet dubbed the “New Mysteries of Paris” quoting Eugene Sue’s seminal “feuilleton”; though he never completed the full 20 arrondissements as he originally planned. Aside from the novels 5 short stories were also published, bringing the total of Burma’s adventures to 38.

The comic artist Jacques Tardi adapted some of his books much to the author’s approval claiming that he was the sole person to have visually understood his books; Tardi also provided cover illustrations for the Fleuve Noir editions of the novels, released from the 1980s onward.

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