Jacques Tardi’s interpretation of Jean-Patrick Manchette’s book is an intense and shocking thriller. It follows a period in the life of an accomplished assassin, Martin Terrier, as he kills people for his organised crime bosses and works even harder to avoid being killed himself. His life is balanced on a razor’s edge – he’s in as much danger from his allies turning on him as he is from the friends and associates of those he’s murdered.
But his past comes back to haunt him. The girl he left as a sixteen year old, promising to return to her as a wealthy man in ten years time, resurfaces in his life. She hasn’t waited, but is of dubious morals herself, and they find themselves exploring their old relationship, albeit in a dark and violent way. Meanwhile, Terrier finds himself unable to leave his occupation behind, and goes on one last mission.
It harks back to the gritty cinematic thrillers of the 1970s. The moral landscape of the book is a vacuum and there’s barely a redeeming feature across any of the characters. Terrier is an intense loner, trapped in his chosen lifestyle. He understands there can be no escape but can’t bring himself not to try.
Dark, brutal and uterly compelling, classic thriller fans should lap this up. Put a few hours aside before picking it up though, because you won’t want to put it down and it’s a feast worth savouring.