I received an advanced copy of The Mad and The Bad from the publisher through Edelweiss. This book was originally published in 1972 in French. It is translated for the New York Review of Books Classics series by David Nicholson-Smith.
Wild and Crazy! Wow. Those are the first thoughts that came to my mind after reading the first page of The Mad and The Bad. But as dramatically as the book starts, I realized that fun was only just beginning. This book is the literary equivalent of an action packed, high speed car chase, shoot out type of movie.
A patient from an insane asylum, Julie, is suddenly sprung from her padded cell and given a job as a nanny to an eccentric millionaire’s nephew. Julie pops some tranquilizers and tries to adjust to the outside world and to get acquainted with Peter, the bratty seven year old that she is charged with looking after.
As if the psychiatric patient-turned-Nanny isn’t exciting enough, the reader is also introduced to Thompson, a contracted killer who is hired to carry out a hit on Julie and Peter. Thompson is a fascinating and chilling character who has psychosomatic stomach pains that only ease when he is murdering someone. He and his band of cronies have really met their match when they try to bump off Julie, the newly released psychiatric patient. Who hired Thompson to kill Julie and Peter? Who could be so crazy as to plan the murder of a child?
I really enjoyed the succinct prose of this book as no word is wasted to describe the intense action. I highly recommend The Mad and The Bad as an entertaining, fast-paced read. The New York Review of Books has provided us with a translation of yet another great classic.