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South of Heaven by Jim Thompson

South of Heaven (1967)

by Jim Thompson

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Twenty-one year old Tommy had grown up with the plan of going to college one day, but those plans changed when his grandparents accidentally blew themselves up with dynamite when Tommy was sixteen. He's been working the pipelines ever since, moving from camp to camp, helping to lay down the first pipelines in Texas. It's the 1920s, a time of few laws or safety equipment, when a man could be killed on the job and buried right where he'd fallen and the work went on.
Tommy's been assigned to work the dynamite with Four Trey, his closest friend in the world, except that Four Trey doesn't want a close friend. Tommy makes his life worse by falling in love with the camp prostitute, then drawing the attention of the camp villains.

This one is by far the most straightforward I've read from him. The bad guys are a bit cartoon-ish, and Tommy's pretty dumb, but there's actually a happy ending. From Thompson! Never thought I'd see the day. ( )
  mstrust | May 12, 2017 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0679740171, Paperback)

In the 1920s the worst place you could be was in that part of Texas that some people call "South of Heaven," and the worst thing you could be doing there was laying a gas pipeline, along with six-hundred other hoboes, juice-heads, and jailbirds. But that's exactly what Tommy Burwell was doing, even though he wasn't smart enough to know better. Even though "South of Heaven" is another term for hell.

Combining a tale of escalating savagery with a dead-eyed group portrait of men at the edge, Jim Thompson has produced a masterpiece of the American dissolute.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:14:31 -0400)

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