Léo Malet

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Léo Malet (7 March 1909 – 3 March 1996) was a French crime novelist and surrealist.


Leo Malet 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 Châtillon, a little town just south of Paris where he had lived for most of his life, four days before his 87th birthday.


Though he dabbled in many genres, Malet 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, eighteen each take place in a sole arrondissement of Paris, in a sub-series of his exploits that Malet dubbed the "New Mysteries of Paris" quoting Eugene Sue's seminal "feuilleton". However, Malet never completed the full 20 arrondissements as he originally planned. Apart from the novels, five short stories were also published, bringing the total of Burma's adventures to 38.

The comic artist Jacques Tardi adapted some of Malet's books, much to the author's approval. Malet claimed that Tardi was the sole person to have visually understood his books. Tardi also provided cover illustrations for the Fleuve Noir editions of the novels, which were published from the 1980s onward.

Selected bibliography[edit]

  • 120, rue de la Gare (1943)
  • Le cinquième procédé (1948)
  • Le soleil naît derrière le Louvre (1954) (First of the "New Mysteries of Paris" series)
  • Des kilomètres de linceuls (1955)
  • Fièvre au Marais (1955)
  • La nuit de Saint-Germain-des-Prés (1955)
  • M'as-tu vu en cadavre (1956)
  • Brouillard au pont de Tolbiac (1956)
  • Casse-pipe à la Nation (1957)
  • Micmac moche au Boul' Mich' (1957)
  • Nestor Burma court la poupée (1971)
  • Poste restante (1983)

Comic book adaptations[edit]

  • Brouillard au pont de Tolbiac (Casterman, 1982); drawn by: Jacques Tardi
  • 120, rue de la Gare (Casterman, 1988); drawn by: Jacques Tardi
  • Une gueule de bois en plomb (Casterman, 1990); drawn by: Jacques Tardi
  • Casse-pipe à la Nation (Casterman, 1996); drawn by: Jacques Tardi
  • M'as-tu vu en cadavre ? (Casterman, 2000); drawn by: Jacques Tardi


External links[edit]