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Friday, July 8, 2011

The Killer Inside Me--Jim Thompson

Jim Thompson is king of the boozy, bleak, late noir.  I thought I had read this one before, but nothing about it seemed familiar even while all of the tropes of the noir genre and particularly of the provocative pulp noir raised their unholy heads in the course of the story. 

Lou Ford is a deputy sheriff with a secret--a bunch of secrets.  And he spends the book accumulating more--a lot more.  He is the essence of the smiling sociopath blithely plotting his way to freedom even though he knows, as one of the characters says, "It's always lightest just before the dark." 

His smiling persona has leaks--people see past the mask frequently.  As brilliant as he thinks he is, he can't keep what he does hidden and the story reaches exactly the type of noir climax you would expect.

Taut, terse, in parts brilliant--written in a cool, clear voice that at once plays on one's nerves and shows the bumpkin leading the yokels.  In short, a powerful noir work from a powerful noir writer.  Amoral, intense, studied, and clever.  Short, it pull the reader through it by the electric tension of the prose and the inevitability of the events.

One of the best reads in a while.

Recommended *****

2 comments:

  1. Our bystery book group is discussing James Thompson's _Snow Angel_ this month, so I was curious to see if the two were the same. They are different authors, according to the catalogue at the local public library.

    But I also discovered that the library has a film version on DVD of _The Killer inside Me_, as well as the novel. The film stars Casey Affleck, Kate Hudson, Jessica Alba, Ned Beatty, and others. I'm going to get both. thanks for the tipoff. I've never read anything by Jim Thompson, or James Thompson either.

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  2. Dear Fred,

    I've heard fantastic things about the movie, though I have not seen it. It is on my short list of films to see in the near future.

    A number of Thompson's books have been made into movies--_The Grifters_, _After Dark, My Sweet_ leap to mind--and there may be others as well.

    Thompson apparently spent some time as a screen writer and I don't recall the films he worked on, but my recollection suggested that he was a pretty high-class, high-powered scripter.

    Thanks for commenting.

    shalom,

    Steven

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