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A Swell Looking Babe (Crime Masterworks)
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A Swell Looking Babe (Crime Masterworks)

3.82 of 5 stars 3.82  ·  rating details  ·  1,005 ratings  ·  49 reviews
The Manton looks like a respectable hotel. Dusty Rhodes looks like a selfless young man working as a bellhop. And the woman in 1004 looks like an angel. But sometimes looks can kill, as Jim Thompson demonstrates in this vision of the crime novel as gothic.
145 pages
Published (first published 1954)
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Not one of Jim Thompson's better outings. A tale of a bellhop seduced by the beautiful looks of a hotel guest, and how he gets mixed up with some criminal shenanigans. Pretty much the same set up as Charles Willeford's Sex is a Woman but written with a greater psychological insight and slightly more interesting sub plots and background details. Neither book were particularly amazing however. Just straight forward pulp crime fiction written to entertain for a few moments.

Thompson adds a bizarre O
Ryan Hathaway
Thompson is a great writer. However this is not one of his best IMO. His best work is in characters -- most notably in making nasty characters sympathetic. This story just doesn’t do that -- or even try to. The plot itself is very cliche noir genre and the characters have little interesting happening. Furthermore, the main character is kind of wimpy and whiney throughout, I had a hard time enjoying him. He was an Everyman, not a Jim Thompson character... maybe even an idealized version of himsel ...more
Samantha Glasser
This book opens strong. Dusty Rhodes is a bellhop but only until he can save enough money to go to med school. While working at the Manton he makes big money, but he is warned to stay away from women. That's been no problem until she walked in. Now he's willing to do anything to get her, even to his own detriment.

Thompson's writing flows very well so this is a quick and entertaining read. This is quite a feat because our hero is anything but the ideal subject of idolatry. The more we learn, the
Mike Nemeth
Maybe it's the era this was written. Maybe it's that I'm too far removed from the time in which this gritty tale takes place. I don't know. The writing is punchy and solid. The story engaging. However, the babes are babes and a cigarette in every mouth thing got old. Reminded me of afternoon movies on TV where I wished it was Humphrey Bogart and I got some no-name actor in a bad drama trying to be a low-budget version of the thin man. "A Swell-Looking Babe" takes place in an aging hotel staffed ...more
William Johnson
It is a tough task to read an author's best and most popular work (two of them in fact) and then kind of swing at a ball you shouldn't by picking something deeper in the bibliography that really doesn't get talked about.

I mean, A Swell-Looking Babe is interesting, if anything, because of Jim Thompson. He has a way with language that makes his weakest efforts better than most people's best. But on the levels of Jim Thompson brilliance, this one just gets too convoluted and weighed down by its own
Jun 06, 2008 Andy rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: horny claustrophobics
Shelves: pulp-fiction
Some nutty goings on in a hotel told from the perspective of a bellboy (not Jerry Lewis). There's cliche-type gangsters in there, too. Most of the action takes place indoors - Thompson should have turned this into a play!
Absolutely amazing. Stephen King loves this guy- he posted a pic of himself holding one of Thompson's books, I saw it today right after I finished this one. Every book I read by Thompson is better than the last. I thought he couldn't top the last one I read and I'm wrong. This was so compelling and disturbing, and I was so happy that it ended the way it did, but there was a lot of suspense, it was like waiting for the bad guys, the really despicable ones, to "get there's" and you know there is n ...more
Good stuff.

Watch out for the pretty ones. They'll be the death of you.
Made me feel icky and miserable, like a good crime novel should.
I can't say I particularly enjoyed watching Thompson usher this character into complete oblivion. The final judgment made on the protagonist of this book is made with such masochistic fervor, it makes one's stomach turn - Fascinating and upsetting, considering Thompson must've identified with this character at least a little, since it was informed by his experience as a night bellboy in a Fort Worth hotel.

Every authority and every relative and every colleague of the bellboy in this book thrives
The Oedipus Complex, Thompson-style.
Young college drop-out Bill "Dusty" Rhodes is working as a bellboy at the Manton Hotel until he can get his life situated so he can go back to school. But the money is good and the job is easy and Dusty has his sick old father to support. He loves his dad but doesn't understand where the old man spends all the money Dusty gives him. Then the swell-looking babe, a gray-haired older woman, checks into the hotel and Dusty can't stop thinking about how beautiful s
A Swell Looking Babe by Jim Thompson (1954)

What we got in this is Bill ‘Dusty’ Rhodes, a hotel bellhop who works the night shift at the Manton hotel for the money. Despite being handsome, he is sad and angry at everyone, the hotel manager, Bascom, the mysterious lady, Marcia Hillis, a woman that Dusty sees usually in a dream in the beginning, then manipulative and needy like his mother in flashbacks, and his father who is old and grasping in his love and concern for his resentful son.
The bala
Tyler Hayes
I officially love Thompson's writing. This piece—about a young med student, his chronically ill father, and the sexy, sexy woman who stays at the hotel where the first works to support the second—is a fantastic slice of noir writing, without any of the noir stereotypes we have come to expect. His style is terse, involving, and gritty, and quite psychological; I was excited to see a really well-done incompetent protagonist. I feel like he was a strong, if indirect, influence on the Coen Brothers' ...more
Another crime novel finished. This one was okay, though I'm not as enamored with Jim Thompson as a writer as others tell me I should be. Yes, he's a bit over the top (but not as bad as say, Frank Miller with Sin City), but I'm not sold on his dialog. He's good with plots and characterization, but I'm still favoring Raymond Chandler. I was pretty bored with this book, until the end. The plot revolved around a good natured, but angry kid stuck in a bad situation. Because of that, he makes some mov ...more
Jason Edwards
Picked this up in a used book store for a few bucks. Didn’t recognize the title, although I was hunting down Thompson tomes. I haven’t memorized his works list yet, but I knew a few to look for. This one, A Swell-Looking Babe, never gets a mention. Now I know why.

I shouldn’t compare one book to another, but I do it all the time anyway. And I’m no keen scholar Thomson scholar, yet, but this one seemed a bit meager. I mean, Thompson’s got this reputation for a real crackling suspense writer, and t
Galen Burghardt
I really liked it. Kind of a departure for Thompson, but in a way I thought it was darker than his other books. In most of his other books there's some kind of redemption or triumph or tragedy, but here there was just darkness moving in and suffocating everything. Plus, while Dusty wasn't one of his more morally complex characters, he was one of the most psychologically complex characters.

Not my favorite Thompson book, but I certainly enjoyed the hell out of it.
This is a typical jim Thomson novel with lot of twist and turns. Once one start reading, it becomes very difficult to stop.Plot is very different from other novel and indicates that there is nothing absolute rights wrong in life. A bellboy in a good hotel, trying to make money, runs in to the hand of gangster and comes a bar dancer who outsmarts both of them. As in all the jim novels it never goes out of place and time even if it was written in the 50s.
This is a crime novel, which focused on human immorality, and naivety. Dusty Rhodes has all the potential in the world in front of him, but the reader learns Dusty’s character flaws. We see the warning signs as a third party looking in, but will Dusty? He has opportunities with his sick father, who has a dark reputation. He also encounters temptation at his place of employment; the upscale Madison Hotel. Lastly there is Marcia Hillis, who exudes mystery, and has captured Dusty’s heart. This is a ...more
Carol Balawyder
I read this book awhile back but thought I'd put it on my list because it's such a great book. If you like the crime fiction of Chandler or Cain and have never read Thompson you're in for a treat. This is a gripping book - one that will have you hooked from beginning to end. Thompson is a master in this noir genre of novel.
Albert Stern
Not his best. I hadn't read a Thompson in about 20 years, when I plowed through most of the ones in print. I got halfway thru this one before realizing I'd read it before, and didn't like it much then, either. Oh, well.
David Monroe
Not Thompson's best, but it was probably his most autobiographical, and oedipal.
Jim Thompson has always been one of my favorite hardboiled crime writers. His is a world of assured damnation, without hope of escape, redemption, or innocence. A Swell-Looking Babe is one of his earlier books, but ended up as a solid read with all the master's halmarks: a damned hero with a Freudian ax to grind; a duplicitous, beautiful woman or questionable moral fiber; double-crosses, unrequited desires and sudden violence. If you like Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett and Ross McDonald but ...more
Oliver Bateman
A slightly worse version of Thompson's THE GRIFTERS, with a confusing plot and an ending that struck me as forced and unnatural. But some of those killer passages about Oedipal lust? Oh man, oh man:

"His disinterest in girls, his 'lack of time' for them: Was [his mother:] the reason? She was. He admitted it now. She had been the woman, the only one."

If you want great Thompson, go with THE KILLER INSIDE ME or POP. 1280. But this is at least as good as SAVAGE NIGHT or AFTER DARK, MY SWEET, and you
2-1/2 stars for a book I was not overwhelmed by, but the pages of this short noir novel raced by quickly enough. Thompson's prose, at least in this particular book which is the first by him that I've read, didn't resonate as powerfully as say Raymond Chandler or Walter Mosley or Chester Himes. But he did a fine job putting the reader into the confused mind of a lead character trying to figure out the constantly shifting whirlwind going on around him, and slowly revealing the young man's true cha ...more
Another quick read from Jim Thompson who really knows how to tell a story about a con. He is a master of quick complex character development- none of his characters are ever trite- none of his bad guys are all bad, none of his protagonists are lily white, he has a fantastic way of humanizing the people in his stories and creating drama where you're not sure who to root for or what will happen next.
I've come back to Jim Thompson in this CrimeMasterworks edition after Quinnell and Willeford books. Thompson fits the hard-boiled viewpoint. With Dusty Rhodes, he uses a tricking point of view, and tells the story of a downward spiral. Takes some getting into, even though it's not a long book. But Thompson still reads well.
Kris McCracken
Another one of Thompson's odd blend of hard-boiled crime noires and Freudian psychodrama (this one from 1954). The Oedipal subtext is not exactly subtle and the apparent central action of a vicious robbery really is a subsidiary plot to the real drama taking place inside our central character's head. I enjoyed it. B.
Oedipal urges abound when a gorgeous, ageless babe shows up at a hotel where Dusty works as a bellhop. Thompson digs into the family here in his deftly executed prose. As it goes, the fix is in and while not being as floor-smashing as some of his other works, there's a quiet thud which grinds the grift to a halt.
This book was crazy, not a redemable character in the whole book. You keep going because you want to see just what stupid thing the main character will do next. I do enjoy this type of writing and will read more of his books. This one was an audio book that was a great distraction on a long road trip.
very creepy, with the unreliable narrator & the glimpses of utmost depravity, but after about a third of the way in as said narrators mental equilibrium cracks and falls to pieces, it aquires a can't look away quality. not his best book but still the best crime writer ever.
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name. See this thread for more information.

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 lat
More about Jim Thompson...
The Killer Inside Me The Grifters Pop. 1280 The Getaway After Dark, My Sweet

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