:: Buzzwords

3:AM Cult Hero: Léo Malet

“I’m Nestor Burma. A private detective. I don’t work for society – society’s big enough to look after itself. I work for myself and my own interests.”


Cabaret singer, anarchist, ghost writer, poet (of the collections Ne pas voir plus loin que le bout de son sexe (Seeing No Further Than the End of your Prick) & J’Arbre comme cadavre (I Tree Like a Corpse) and aligned with Surrealists, Léo Malet hit his stride with Les Nouveaux Mysteres de Paris novels featuring Nestor Burma, his roman noir take on Hammett‘s Thin Man and Chandler‘s Marlowe.

Updating Eugene Sue‘s Mysteries of Paris, Malet’s hard-drinking, pipe-smoking anti-hero Burma heads up the Fiat Lux detective agency and leads the reader through the Parisian underworld arrondissement by arrondissement (Malet intended to write 20 novels, one for each arrondissement, but gave up after 15), ushering in a new era of French detective fiction and given a further boost with Jacques Tardi‘s comic book adaptations.

Though Fantagrpahics are publishing Tardi for an English-speaking audience, will we see the Nestor Burma stories? And, with the Pan paperbacks exchanging hands for silly money, isn’t it time to bring the man himself back into print?


Further: Obit in the Independent / Nestor Burma at Thrilling Detective / Burma in Cool French Comics / ‘Léo Malet & the French Roman Noir’ / Malet in ‘La Subversion des Images’, which continues at Fotomuseum Winterthur

First posted: Monday, March 15th, 2010.

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