Picture of author.

Jim Thompson (1) (1906–1977)

Author of The Killer Inside Me

For other authors named Jim Thompson, see the disambiguation page.

56+ Works 12,855 Members 283 Reviews 63 Favorited

About the Author

American novelist and screenwriter Jim Thompson was born in Anadarko, Oklahoma on September 27, 1906. In Fort Worth, Texas during prohibition, he worked as a bellboy at the Hotel Texas for two years where he earned up to $300 a week by supplying hotel patrons with bootleg liquor, heroin, and show more marijuana. During the Depression, he worked with the Oklahoma Federal Writers Project and was a member of the Communist Party from 1935 to 1938. During World War II, he worked at an aircraft factory where he was investigated by the FBI for his Communist Party affiliation. His first novel, Now and on Earth, was published in 1942. He wrote more than thirty novels during his lifetime and most of them were paperback pulp crime novels. His best known works are The Killer Inside Me, Savage Night, A Hell of a Woman, and Pop. 1280. In 1955, he moved to Hollywood, California to write screenplays with Stanley Kubrick. Thompson helped write The Killing and Paths of Glory. He died after a series of strokes in Los Angeles, California on April 7, 1977. His long-time alcoholism and recent self-inflicted starvation contributed to his death. His death attracted little attention because none of his novels were in print in the U.S. at that time. (Bowker Author Biography) show less
Image credit: Jim Thompson nr.1 Foto: Sharon Thompson Reed


Works by Jim Thompson

The Killer Inside Me (1952) 2,389 copies
Pop. 1280 (1964) 1,282 copies
The Grifters (1963) 1,180 copies
The Getaway (1959) 874 copies
After Dark, My Sweet (1955) 695 copies
A Hell of a Woman (1954) 629 copies
Savage Night (1953) 486 copies
A Swell-Looking Babe (1954) 408 copies
Nothing More Than Murder (1949) 345 copies
The Kill-Off (1957) 315 copies
The Nothing Man (1954) 300 copies
The Alcoholics (1953) 286 copies
Wild Town (1957) 273 copies
The Criminal (1953) 268 copies
Recoil (1953) 257 copies
Bad Boy (1953) 247 copies
Cropper's Cabin (1952) 237 copies
South of Heaven (1967) 228 copies
Texas by the Tail (1990) 227 copies
Now and On Earth (1994) 215 copies
Roughneck (1989) 206 copies
The Rip-Off (1989) 198 copies
The Golden Gizmo (1954) 188 copies
Paths of Glory [1957 film] (1957) — Screenwriter — 187 copies
The Transgressors (1986) 143 copies
King Blood (1980) 132 copies
Heed the Thunder (1946) 132 copies
The Killing [1956 film] (1956) — Screenwriter — 98 copies
Hardcore (1900) 55 copies
Child of Rage (1988) 51 copies
Ironside (1967) 30 copies
More Hard Core: 3 Novels (1987) 19 copies
Vita da niente (1990) 13 copies
Forever After (2009) 6 copies
Vite in gioco (1993) 5 copies
Una chica de buen ver (1954) 3 copies
Oltre il buio (1992) 3 copies
Una cabaña en el sur (1989) 2 copies
Ville sans loi (2018) 1 copy
La cabane du métayer (2019) 1 copy
ROMANZI 1 copy

Associated Works

Crime Novels: American Noir of the 1950s (1997) — Contributor — 521 copies
The Best American Noir of the Century (2010) — Contributor — 357 copies
The Mammoth Book of Pulp Fiction (1996) — Contributor — 234 copies
The Black Lizard Anthology of Crime Fiction (1987) — Contributor — 218 copies
Murder on Amsterdam Avenue (A Gaslight Mystery) (2015) — Author photo, some editions — 215 copies
Hard-Boiled: An Anthology of American Crime Stories (1995) — Contributor — 183 copies
20 Stories Pulp Fictions (1996) — Contributor — 69 copies


Common Knowledge

Canonical name
Thompson, Jim
Legal name
Thompson, James Myers
Other names
Dillon, James
Date of death
Burial location
Cremated, Ashes scattered
Anadarko, Oklahoma Territory, USA
Place of death
Los Angeles, California, USA
Cause of death
Places of residence
Anadarko, Oklahoma, USA (birth)
Los Angeles, California, USA (death)
Fort Worth, Texas, USA
University of Oklahoma
University of Nebraska
oil field laborer
Oklahoma Federal Writers Project
Industrial Workers of the World (IWW. The Wobblies)
Communist Party USA (1935-38)
Short biography
James Myers Thompson was a United States writer of novels, short stories and screenplays, largely in the hardboiled style of crime fiction.

Thompson wrote more than thirty novels, the majority of which were original paperback publications by pulp fiction houses, from the late-1940s through mid-1950s. Despite some positive critical notice, notably by Anthony Boucher in the New York Times, he was little-recognized in his lifetime. Only after death did Thompson's literary stature grow, when in the late 1980s, several novels were re-published in the Black Lizard series of re-discovered crime fiction.

Thompson's writing culminated in a few of his best-regarded works: The Killer Inside Me, Savage Night, A Hell of a Woman and Pop. 1280. In these works, Thompson turned the derided pulp genre into literature and art, featuring unreliable narrators, odd structure, and surrealism.

The writer R.V. Cassills has suggested that of all pulp fiction, Thompson's was the rawest and most harrowing; that neither Dashiell Hammett nor Raymond Chandler nor even Horace McCoy, author of the bleak They Shoot Horses, Don't They?, ever "wrote a book within miles of Thompson". [1] Similarly, in the introduction to Now and on Earth, Stephen King says he most admires Thompson's work because "The guy was over the top. The guy was absolutely over the top. Big Jim didn't know the meaning of the word stop. There are three brave lets inherent in the forgoing: he let himself see everything, he let himself write it down, then he let himself publish it."

Thompson admired Fyodor Dostoevsky and was nicknamed "Dimestore Dostoevsky" by writer Geoffrey O'Brien. Film director Stephen Frears, who directed an adaptation of Thompson's The Grifters as 1990's The Grifters, also identified elements of Greek tragedy in his themes.



This book was ahead of its time and of its time. Jim Thompson is an excellent writer with much insight.
dianeham | 84 other reviews | Feb 9, 2024 |
The Grifters is not just a trifecta of immorality of the three main characters, there’s the whole Oedipal thing between Roy and his mom and Roy’s stand-in for her, Moira (see the photo below of Lily and Moira from the movie.) This story is a great noir thriller with quite a few twists, though it doesn’t have a happily-ever-after like The Sting. I saw the movie a while back so the ending wasn’t much of a shocker. But definitely stick around for it. Though Roy seems tempted to give up the grift, I don’t believe he ever would.… (more)
mtbass | 25 other reviews | Jan 18, 2024 |
This was really good. A very quick read. From the way some people talked about it, I expected it to be a lot more graphic than what it was, but I suppose when it was originally released it was that era's AMERICAN PSYCHO, basically. Very good crime noir here, though. You know the writer has skill when you're rooting for the crazy murderer. The ending was a bit rushed, though. Kind of left me disappointed there once it was all over. But maybe I'm just greedy. I did enjoy the way the author tied each plot string together.… (more)
b00kdarling87 | 84 other reviews | Jan 7, 2024 |
This is pure delicious Thompson. He pulls you in with a protagonist to pity--Dillon who spares no chances to tell you how mean the world has been to him. Then he meets a sweet gal equally under life's thumb. Maybe he can save her...and himself at the same time. Quickly though you begin to figure his intentions ain't so pure and his luck not so much the result of a cruel world as it is the residue of his character. But you still humor the idea of redemption--the girl at least is worth saving. Thompson keeps pulling the thread--unravelling hope for this guy. And then the fall as if pushed out the back of a moving truck. The story slides across hard asphalt, Dillon is dumber, blinder and crueler than we feared, sliding off the road to a hard stop in the bushes. As he so often does, Thompson supplies a great ending. In this case two-- and you are then left wondering who the title actually refers to.… (more)
KurtWombat | 12 other reviews | Dec 26, 2023 |



You May Also Like

Associated Authors

Calder Willingham Screenwriter
John Shirley Foreword
Eva Kroll Film editor
Lionel White Original novel
Kirwan Cover artist, Cover Art
Anna Martini Translator
Barry Gifford Introduction
Nancy MacGregor Cover artist
Ute Tanner Übersetzer
Attilio Veraldi Translator
Andre Simonoviescz Übersetzer, Translator
Luca Briasco Contributor, Translator
Goffredo Fofi Afterword
Ulrike Wasel Übersetzer
Tim Flavin Narrator
Wolfram Knorr Afterword
Eduardo Feito Illustrator
Mika Tiirinen Translator
Marcel Duhamel Translator
Guido Almansi Afterword
Joe R. Lansdale Introduction
Klaus Timmermann Übersetzer
Günter Panske Translator
Lia Volpatti Introduction
ferenc pinter Cover artist
Carlo Oliva Translator
Stephen King Introduction
Roderick Thorp Introduction


Also by

Charts & Graphs