Few Crime series, if any, have developed such mystique as the French Série Noire, launched 72 years ago by former surrealist Marcel Duhamel for the éditions Gallimard. While ostensibly dedicated to introducing american hardboiled writers, and to a significant extent their imitators from elsewhere, the series also published an increasing amount of French authors. A simple data viz shows the respective quantitative contribution of the twenty most prolific French writers in the Série Noire.
This quantitative profile is partially consistent with the significance of some of these authors in shaping the image and standing of the Série Noire (Manchette, Daeninckx and no doubt less visibly, Pouy). On the other hand it reveals huge distortions. Jean Amila’s 21 novels are the output of a long career with the Série Noire, as one of its earliest French authors (Jean Meckert originally published under the pseudonym “John” Amila). By contrast, Antoine Dominique (a pseudonym which aptly coincides with Fats Domino’s name) published 50 novels in less than a decade. Also many of the books concerned have long been out of print. The body of work of Dominique (aka Dominique Ponchardier), an author featuring highest on Duhamel’s payroll while being praised in his time by the likes of Jean Giono and Jean Cocteau, has become a terra incognita. A.D.G. (aka Alain Fournier), a gifted writer praised by Manchette whom he called a friend despite their diametrically opposed politics, or Pierre Siniac with whom Manchette exchanged a substantial correspondance and Francis Ryck, who invented the French Néo-polar years before Manchette and others were credited with it, are just three names who demand to be rediscovered and studied.