Bastards Die Hard

£1.50

Maurice Debar is a petty thug. He carries out one-man hold-ups or “works” alongside Jimmy, another criminal, a regular guy. He is inclined to bear grudges. He hangs out with Hermine who quickly ‘blows’ all his illegal earnings. All the same, Maurice pulls off a big deal, on the up-and-up, and this brings him a cool million francs in cash. But this is under the Occupation and there are problems with rationing. Maurice has found himself a partner, Meister, who is a Gestapo agent operating out of the Rue Lauriston. He depends on this connection for the papers he needs if he is to quit Paris for the south, where life is easier. Mingling with the regulars in a bar, he happens to find out that his girlfriend and his partner are putting the horns on him. Maurice decides to make a clean break and sends Hermine off to fetch those vital papers, claiming that he himself has an urgent appointment with Jimmy. He tails her as far as the restaurant where the two alleged lovers have arranged to meet. After hanging around in the cold for a long time, his mind is all but made up to move on and forgive them. Then the couple emerges … they kiss. Maurice sees red, darts forward and guns down Meister, Hermine and a German Gestapo agent who arrives on the scene. He flees to Jimmy’s hotel room, reckoning that no one will come looking for him there. Awakened by the police the following morning, they flee, catching the train south. On arrival in Lyon, but not before leaving a few dead bodies en route, he is recruited by an American network as a hired killer. Launching into a bloody spiral that will stretch Maurice to breaking point.
Bastards Die Hard appeared in 1949. André Héléna was just beginning his career as an author. With this novel he offered a tale of 1942-1944 France, a tragic testimonial to life in the country then. Along with his hero buffeted by the vagaries of the life he has chosen, he traces a tragic cavalcade and, along the way, a gallery of utterly remarkable portraits. (…) He sketches a gallery of individuals scrabbling to survive the implications of choices that are sometimes good, sometimes bad. But when hunger bites, aren’t stomach cramps every bit as much a factor as patriotism?
André Héléna has chosen a petty criminal as his hero, a man with a pride and impulsiveness that prompt him to carry out the deed that leads to a test to which he had never expected himself to be put. And offers us the same portrait of the underworld as was widespread in the post-war noir novels and movies. (…)

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Description

Maurice Debar is a petty thug. He carries out one-man hold-ups or “works” alongside Jimmy, another criminal, a regular guy. He is inclined to bear grudges. He hangs out with Hermine who quickly ‘blows’ all his illegal earnings. All the same, Maurice pulls off a big deal, on the up-and-up, and this brings him a cool million francs in cash. But this is under the Occupation and there are problems with rationing. Maurice has found himself a partner, Meister, who is a Gestapo agent operating out of the Rue Lauriston. He depends on this connection for the papers he needs if he is to quit Paris for the south, where life is easier. Mingling with the regulars in a bar, he happens to find out that his girlfriend and his partner are putting the horns on him. Maurice decides to make a clean break and sends Hermine off to fetch those vital papers, claiming that he himself has an urgent appointment with Jimmy. He tails her as far as the restaurant where the two alleged lovers have arranged to meet. After hanging around in the cold for a long time, his mind is all but made up to move on and forgive them. Then the couple emerges … they kiss. Maurice sees red, darts forward and guns down Meister, Hermine and a German Gestapo agent who arrives on the scene. He flees to Jimmy’s hotel room, reckoning that no one will come looking for him there. Awakened by the police the following morning, they flee, catching the train south. On arrival in Lyon, but not before leaving a few dead bodies en route, he is recruited by an American network as a hired killer. Launching into a bloody spiral that will stretch Maurice to breaking point. Bastards Die Hard appeared in 1949. André Héléna was just beginning his career as an author. With this novel he offered a tale of 1942-1944 France, a tragic testimonial to life in the country then. Along with his hero buffeted by the vagaries of the life he has chosen, he traces a tragic cavalcade and, along the way, a gallery of utterly remarkable portraits. (…) He sketches a gallery of individuals scrabbling to survive the implications of choices that are sometimes good, sometimes bad. But when hunger bites, aren’t stomach cramps every bit as much a factor as patriotism? André Héléna has chosen a petty criminal as his hero, a man with a pride and impulsiveness that prompt him to carry out the deed that leads to a test to which he had never expected himself to be put. And offers us the same portrait of the underworld as was widespread in the post-war noir novels and movies. (…)