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The Killer Inside Me by Jim Thompson
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The Killer Inside Me (original 1952; edition 1991)

by Jim Thompson

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,479425,031 (3.97)155
Member:Booksloth
Title:The Killer Inside Me
Authors:Jim Thompson
Info:Vintage (1991), Paperback, 256 pages
Collections:Your library, Fiction
Rating:*
Tags:Read in 2008

Work details

The killer inside me by Jim Thompson (1952)

  1. 21
    American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis (pnorth, gtross)
    pnorth: I strongly suspect Easton Ellis is a fan of The Killer Inside Me and drew on it for American Psycho. In any case, the cold fascination you have as a reader for the killers is the same.
    gtross: I would be very much surprised if Bret Easton Ellis hadn't been influenced by Jim Thompson's first person narrative of a psychopathic mind.
  2. 21
    In a Lonely Place by Dorothy B. Hughes (christiguc)
  3. 00
    People Live Still in Cashtown Corners by Tony Burgess (ShelfMonkey)
  4. 00
    Child of God by Cormac McCarthy (Bridgey)
    Bridgey: Both deal with a small town psychopathic killer
  5. 12
    Darkly Dreaming Dexter by Jeff Lindsay (schatzi)
    schatzi: another novel about a serial killer trying to present a normal face to the public
  6. 12
    The Butcher Boy by Patrick McCabe (Booksloth)
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Showing 1-5 of 40 (next | show all)
The Killer Inside - Jim Thompson ***

I had never heard of Jim Thompson, but browsing in a bookshop came across this. Stephen King recommended the author on the cover so I decided to pick it up and give it a try. I was surprised that it was written so long ago (1952) but I am quite a fan of the Noir period. James M Cain has to be one of most recently discovered favourite authors.

What is it about?

The book is told through the eyes of a small town deputy by the name of Lou Ford, a man who has created a fake persona as a slightly slow but lovable member of the community. We experience his paranoia and disturbed view of the world that leads him into a killing spree. Fuelled by past events from his childhood Ford meticulously plans each murder, but how long will it be before he is found out?

What did I like?

The action when it comes is very vivid, Thompson leaves very little to the imagination as we are described blow by blow the injuries inflicted on Ford's victims. I enjoyed the way that we are only allowed to experience Ford's own thoughts, this left me second guessing along with him whether or not the other characters were believing his stories or not. It was interesting to see how he perceived each situation and as his mental disease became more apparent to the reader, I also found myself looking at past events in a new light.

What didn't I like?

I understand the whole noir genre, and the need to keep language short and direct, but for me the novel was just a little too extreme. At times I lost myself in the plot and wasn't entirely sure what was happening. I admit, maybe this was just as much down to me as the author, but for me it spoilt the flow of the novel. Also I wish the author had explored Lou's early life a little more especially as the events directly related to his present day frame of mind. I love the character of Lou, but can't but help wonder what more have become if Cormac McCarthy had got his hands on him. Reminds me more than little of Child of God.

Anyway, by no means a poor read, just didn't hit enough buttons for me to be able to give it more than 3 stars. Looking at Amazon it has more than it's fair share of 5 star reviews so I am willing to accept that the fault is likely to be with me. I don't think I will actively seek out any more of Thompson's works, but if one 'fell' into my lap I would possibly give it a try. ( )
  Bridgey | Jan 12, 2015 |
Lou Ford is a young deputy sheriff with a big secret. He has what he calls a "sickness." In truth, he is a sexual sadist and a homicidal sociopath. After having rough sex with a prostitute he finds all of his urges have come back. Years earlier he attacked a child. When his foster brother took the blame for the crime, Lou thought his secret was safe, especially when his brother died in a construction "accident." He got away with it until he decided to blackmail the men who supposedly murdered his brother. Things get complicated and the bodies start piling up. Ford is a strange man (never mind the fact he's a killer). He speaks in cliches all the time and he has an ego the size of Alaska. He thinks that he has covered up each and every crime and hasn't left a shred of evidence that could implicate him in any way. It's strange to read this in the 21st century. So many different forensic techniques we take for granted today (DNA, for one) were not available back in the 1950s. Even methods like the polygraph and fingerprinting have been greatly improved since their invention. ( )
  SeriousGrace | Jun 26, 2014 |
Twenty-nine-year-old Lou Ford is a Deputy Sheriff from the West Texas town of Central City. Lou, who is in a long-term relationship with childhood sweetheart Amy Stanton, is a hard-working, trustworthy, simple character with a keenness for clichés; at least this is how he is perceived to be by his community. In reality Lou is a sociopath with a dark secret that he has been hiding since childhood.

The story follows the highly intelligent, manipulative and cold-blooded psychopathic killer Lou. Written from the first-person perspective, the book offers a chilling yet compelling insight into the mind of a psychopath. A deranged, deeply disturbed mind capable of meticulous, deviant planning. A mind acutely aware of its sociopathic nature and sadomasochistic tendencies, but also on occasion prone to pithy and at times humorous observations about others.

The author both engrosses and disturbs the reader through the utilisation of realistic, simple prose, a raw writing style and an engaging plot. Widely acclaimed as something of a master of suspense, Thompson expertly escalates the tension with a quick moving plot and by providing only enough detail for context.

Unrelenting in its bleakness, pessimism and ruthlessness, The Killer Inside Me is a thought-provoking and suspenseful book that has transcended pulp fiction to become a widely acclaimed literary work. ( )
  guyportman | Apr 7, 2014 |
Lou is a deputy sheriff in small town Texas. He appears slow but actually quite smart. This story of a socialpath is told in the first person. It is considered to be vintage crime novel in the US, written in 1952. The movie of this would be very gruesome. ( )
  Kristelh | Nov 16, 2013 |
Killer Inside Me by Jim Thompson describes the obsession of a small-town deputy sheriff. He is beloved by the community for his uncommon ability to calm violent prisoners. Told in the first-person, we soon learn of the narrator's dark past and even more foreboding future. ( )
  ecw0647 | Sep 30, 2013 |
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First words
I'd finished my pie and was having a second cup of coffee when I saw him.
Quotations
Striking at people that way is almost as good as the other, the real way. The way I'd fought to forget--and had almost forgot--until I met her.
Did you ever stop to figure that there's all kinds of ways of dying, but only one way of being dead?
The stupid son-of-a-bitch was always doing that. Not just stories about me, but everything. He'd clip out cartoons and weather reports and crappy poems and health columns. Every goddam thing under the sun. He couldn't read a paper without a pair of scissors.
You ask me why I stick around, knowing the score, and it's hard to explain. I guess I kind of got a foot on both fences, Johnnie. I planted 'em there early and now they've taken root, and I can't move either way and I can't jump. All I can do is wait until I split. Right down the middle. That's all I can do...
It was like being asleep when you were awake and awake when you were asleep. I'd pinch myself, figuratively speaking--I had to keep pinching myself. Then I'd wake up kind of in reverse; I'd go back into the nightmare I had to live in. And everything would be clear and reasonable.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0679733973, Paperback)

Lou Ford is the deputy sheriff of a small town in Texas.  The worst thing most people can say against him is that he's a little slow and a little boring.  But, then, most people don't know about the sickness--the sickness that almost got Lou put away when he was younger.  The sickness that is about to surface again.

An underground classic since its publication in 1952, The Killer Inside Me is the book that made Jim Thompson's name synonymous with the roman noir.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:54:13 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

Lou Ford is the deputy sheriff of a small town in Texas. The worst thing most people can say against him is that he's a little slow and a little boring. But, then, most people don't know about the sickness--the sickness that almost got Lou put away when he was younger. The sickness that is about to surface again.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 4 descriptions

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