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The getaway by Jim Thompson
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The getaway (original 1959; edition 1990)

by Jim Thompson

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686820,085 (3.81)38
Member:Crispi
Title:The getaway
Authors:Jim Thompson
Info:New York : Vintage Books, 1990.
Collections:Your library, Read but unowned
Rating:***
Tags:Crime fiction

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The Getaway by Jim Thompson (1959)

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» See also 38 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 8 (next | show all)
As you might expect from the title, this is the story of a getaway from a bank robbery. Doc McCoy has been doing this sort of work for a long time, and he is usually perfect. But on this occasion, he shoots to kill, and the kill doesn’t take. This precipitates a much more desperate getaway by him and his wife, Carol, taking them across the country and back again to evade the cops and their fellow criminals.

I couldn’t get into this for some reason. The plot felt superficial, and I had a hard time focusing on or caring about their plight. It was annoying too to have Carol act so hysterical and needy. I also thought the last couple of chapters (certainly the last chapter) felt more like a weird dream than an actual event in the story. Maybe I missed something that would have made it make more sense; in any case, this ended up being an unsatisfying read for me. ( )
  rabbitprincess | Aug 19, 2018 |
I read this in an omnibus edition, but I want to review them singly.

I've never really cared for the Sam Peckinpah film of this, though I think that's just down to mostly not caring much for Sam Peckinpah films. In fact, I rather preferred the trashy 1994 remake, which was, if nothing else, a good deal pacier. It is interesting, though, that the film versions of Doc McCoy, seem to respectively reflect the then current notions of what made a good bad guy: Steve McQueen's cool icy glare and Alec Baldwin's brooding intensity. Neither of them fit with Thompson's original, a warm, attractive, personable charmer who's friendly and reassuring right up until the point where he shoots you in the mouth.

In the novel, Doc and his wife along with a damaged and unstable accomplice named Rudy stage a daring bank heist and get away more or less scott free. There's one other accomplice, but he doesn't make it out of the bank. There's a double cross, leaving Rudy supposedly dead and Doc and Carol go on the run. Rudy isn't dead, however, and the getaway isn't clean.

Doc and Carol's relationship is put to the test as her inexperience and his ruthlessness chip away at the genuine love they have for each other. They leave a trail of bodies in their wake, as does the loathsome Rudy. They are ruthless and pitiless criminals who do whatever needs to be done to protect themselves, ultimately damning themselves to a pretty, perfectly constructed little corner of hell.

It's a brilliant, perfectly-formed little novel. The characters are vivid, and it's a sign of the very best sort of writer can make the the reader become so involved in what happens to such terrible people. The book is full of acute psychological insights - translated to film as callow misogyny and macho cool - and there are many dark, memorable and wretched ordeals for them to endure and many innocent lives for them to destroy. The book was originally published as throwaway pulp in 1959. Time has transformed it into an enduring piece of savage, unsettling literature. ( )
1 vote Nigel_Quinlan | Oct 21, 2015 |
A dark, unglamorous crime novel that doesn’t even attempt to portray crime as something that pays.

The falsely personable, but deeply nihilistic Doc McCoy, his wife Carol, and partner Rudy Torrento, “paranoid; incredibly sharp of instinct; filled with animal cunning” rob a bank and attempt a getaway to Mexico. The betrayals start immediately; no one is exempt. There are plenty of murders and close calls.

Thompson wrote a stunning thriller and morality tale rolled into one. ( )
  Hagelstein | Jun 16, 2015 |
The Getaway by Jim Thompson is the story of a bank robbery and its’ aftermath and, as written by Jim Thompson, this is an intense twist filled story full of double crosses, violent encounters and harrowing incidents. The main characters are Doc McCoy and his wife, Carol, a pair of murderous psychopaths that actually appear to really care about each other at the beginning of the book. As the story develops and this pair desperately tries to escape to Mexico, the reader begins to see the cracks forming in their relationship.

Although I never fully bought into this story and really would have preferred to see these two get caught, it was interesting to read about the slow breakdown of their marriage. Of course these two could never just decide to call it quits, it was very obvious that only one would ever walk away from this alliance.

This was my first book by Jim Thompson and although I liked his story presentation and style, The Getaway won’t be remembered as one of my favorites. I am however looking forward to reading more of this author, especially his classic, The Killer Inside Me. ( )
  DeltaQueen50 | Apr 5, 2015 |
Doc McCoy has set up the perfect bank heist: he gets two associates to do the dirty work and bring him the money, then they pick up Doc's wife and hole up in the middle of nowhere until things cool off. The robbery goes off as planned, but Doc underestimated just how violent and resilient the pie-headed Rudy could be. He also never anticipated the day when he couldn't trust his beloved wife, a woman he'd plucked from the library.

A good, solid noir. I'd like to see how Peckinpah handled this with his movie version. ( )
1 vote mstrust | Jun 11, 2014 |
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» Add other authors (8 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Jim Thompsonprimary authorall editionscalculated
Gifford, BarryIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
MacGregor, NancyCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0679732500, Paperback)

Doc McCoy knows everything there is to know about pulling off the perfect bank job. But there are some things he has forgotten--such as a partner who is not only treacherous but insane and a wife who is still an amateur. Worst of all, McCoy has forgotten that when the crime is big and bloody enough, there is no such thing as a clean getaway.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:09:11 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

A thief is released on a parole arranged by his wife only to find that the corrupt politician involved in his release wants him to rob a bank.

(summary from another edition)

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