Mademoiselle Bambu is Pierre Mac Orlan's take on the spy novel, written and expanded between 1932 and 1966.
Set in Hamburg, London, Palermo, Brest and other ports of call in the anxious Europe of the 1920s and 1930s, Mademoiselle Bambu tells the tales of three secret agents: the melancholic adventurer and accidental spy, Captain Hartmann; his enigmatic mistress from Naples (and a double agent for the Germans), Signorina Bambu; and the sinister Pere Barbancon, who retires from his life of espionage and murder to eke out his troubled days in an aptly named "Boarding House of Usher," where shadows are as likely to strangle a man as they are to haunt him.
Like all of Mac Orlan's novels, Mademoiselle Bambu is less a novel than a barometer of societal unease, crippling melancholy and dark humor.
Pierre Mac Orlan (1882-1970) was a prolific writer of absurdist tales, adventure novels, flagellation erotica and essays, as well as the composer of a trove of songs made famous by the likes of Juliette Greco. A member of both the Academie Goncourt and the College de 'Pataphysique, Mac Orlan was admired by everyone from Raymond Queneau and Boris Vian to Andre Malraux and Guy Debord.