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Pop. 1280 (Crime Masterworks)

4.09 of 5 stars 4.09  ·  rating details  ·  4,865 ratings  ·  375 reviews
Nick Corey likes being the high sheriff of Potts County. But Nick has a few problems that he needs to deal with: like his loveless marriage, the pimps who torment him, the honest man who is running against him in the upcoming elections and the women who adore him. And it turns out that Nick isn't anything like as amiable, easy-going or as slow as he seems. He's as sly, bru ...more
Paperback, 192 pages
Published 2003 by Orion (first published 1964)
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The Big Sleep by Raymond ChandlerThe Maltese Falcon by Dashiell HammettThe Long Goodbye by Raymond ChandlerFarewell, My Lovely by Raymond ChandlerThe Postman Always Rings Twice by James M. Cain
Best Hardboiled PI & Noir
18th out of 521 books — 599 voters
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg LarssonAnd Then There Were None by Agatha ChristieAngels & Demons by Dan BrownRebecca by Daphne du MaurierIn Cold Blood by Truman Capote
Best Crime & Mystery Books
403rd out of 5,099 books — 11,381 voters

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Community Reviews

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mark monday
hee haw! a rambunctious, heartwarming delight! loveable and sweet-tempered Nick Corey, Sheriff of Potts County, has more problems than you can shake a stick at. poor guy! all he wants to do is kick back and hold on to his dippity-doo-da job not-arresting people. that's not too much to ask, is it? but things are always getting him down. pimps, bitches, and in-laws - the works! what's an amiable, peace-loving soul to do? well, happily, Nick's also a Medici-level manipulator, stone-cold killer, and ...more

Potts County has a small population, so small that one law enforcement officer is enough to keep the peace around. Keeping the peace is something High Sheriff Nick Corey tries to avoid as much as he can, preferring instead to complain about how little time he has for sleeping and for eating. The town leaders don't seem unduly disturbed by his laisez-faire philosophy, and he usually gets re-elected on his libertarian platform.

"I'll ask you just one question," Robert Lee cut in. "Are you or aren'
Paquita Maria Sanchez
Jim Thompson, you sneaky summabitch. I went looking for something specific. You presented yourself like that something I was looking for, and then you changed almost immediately into something else entirely. But that, too, was a trick, because you sure as Shinola changed on me again. A trick within a trick within a trick, this novel is a long con in the best way.

What I was looking for was a noir thriller, a quality crime drama centering on murrrrder, from the smartypants psychos who commit the c
Poor Nick Corey. He’s got so many problems with his wife and people who actually expect him to do his job as sheriff of a small town that he can hardly eat more than a few pork chops at dinner or sleep more than 8 or 9 hours a night. But Nick has figured out a way to deal with some of his issues, and if that means shotgunning a few folks, then you can hardly blame the poor man.

The obvious comparison here is to Thompson’s other novel about a small town law man with a serious dark side, The Killer
Dan Schwent
Nick Corey is the High Sheriff of Potts County and kind of a simpleton. He doesn't arrest anyone and mostly stays out of trouble, other than affair he's having with another man's wife. Or is his genial nature a cover for something more sinister... ?

Yes. Yes it is. It's a front for the fact that he's a manipulative, cold-blooded killer. He kills two pimps and tricks another sheriff into taking the blame. He launches a smear campaign against another man running for sheriff. He does a handful of ot
Mike Puma
Jun 03, 2012 Mike Puma rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: the anything-other-than-Gravity's-Rainbow-crowd
Shelves: 2012

About a year and a half ago, ages ago it now seems, there was a flurry of activity around this title among some GR friends and those I whose reviews I stalk, so I bought it—probably the title in a purchase that entitled me to free shipping. It sat here and sat here, garnering little attention, working its way down the list of those I was anxious to read, and then it happened, the event that would send this to the top of my priority list…I started reading Gravity’s Rainbow , and all of the sudden

Some might say that Sheriff Nick Corey does not play well with others.

They would be wrong.

Sheriff Nick Corey plays VERY WELL with others!


No one can deny that his shit-kickin', good ole boy, down-home-hick act endears him to the townsfolk he is sworn to protect. More's the pity there is no one to protect them from him.
Corey schemes and manipulates himself out of any crisis, and he'll do whatever is required to keep his cushy job. But now, he's facing his toughest challenge yet - the upcoming ele
EDIT: Another great novel selected as part of the HRF Keating Crime and Mystery: The 100 Best Books list and therefore part of my challenge to read the entire 100. Keating mentions that the novels of Thompson are without good taste and this one has the least taste of all thanks to a hero who kills somebody and kicks the dead body because he'd always wanted to, indepth discussions of bodily functions. But he also praises Thompson for the serious purpose and darker vision of life that lies behind ...more
Mar 08, 2013 Maureen rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: who haven't i recommended this to? :)
Shelves: favourites, novels, noir
some people prefer the killer inside me, jim thompson's earlier take on this story, to pop. 1280, but i am not one of those people. this is my favourite jim thompson novel, by turns and all at once charming, horrifying, funny, and wise. i posted this quote, this flashpoint of the novel for me, really, on myspace many moons ago, where this book was first recommended to me, after i chose the "wrong" jim thompson book as my first jim thompson book. i have it posted it up on my wall, and i read it o ...more
“a heck of a lot of things are bound to go wrong in a world as big as this one. And if there's an answer to why it's that way - and there ain't always - why, it's probably not just one answer by itself, but thousands of answers.”
― Jim Thompson, Pop. 1280

Small towns can be a drag. Especially when you are the High Sheriff. Especially when you are also a psychopath who is just a tad smarter than you let on. You've got these liberal and soft feelings toward minorities and social ills. You want to f
As sheriff in Potts County, Nick Corey's job (as he sees it) is to punish the heck out of people for bein’ people. Oh, and also to gloat over folks in trouble. So, really, none of what happens is Nick's fault. Or, as he would say people who go around sniffing crap with their mouth open, and acting surprised as hell when someone kicks a turd in it.

This is another dark and, at times, funny Jim Thompson tale involving a small town sheriff. I'm not sure that it's better or worse than The Killer Insi
"I said I meant I was just doing my job, followin' the holy precepts laid down in the Bible. "It's what I'm supposed to do, you know, to punish the heck out of people for bein' people. To coax 'em into revealin' theirselves, an' then kick the crap out of 'em. And it's a god-danged hard job, Rose, honey, and I figure that if I can get a little pleasure in the process of trappin' folks I'm mighty well entitled to it."

This excerpt from Thompson's novel sums up the sheriff who's a sociopathic
Tom Mathews
Jun 11, 2015 Tom Mathews rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who enjoys a good anti-hero.
I've read one other Jim Thompson book, Savage Night, and I was hard-pressed to believe that the same person wrote both. Savage Night didn't really appeal to me but I found Nick Corey, the small-town Texas sheriff in Pop. 1280 to be an absolute Machiavellian delight. Everybody may think he's a lazy, dimwitted good ole boy whose favorite line is "We'll, I'm not saying you're wrong but I'm not saying you're right either." Everybody would be wrong.

I was intrigued to hear that Thompson's father was a
High Sheriff Nick Corey acts like a simpleton, he doesn’t arrest anyone, he doesn’t stir the pot, he acts and behaves the exact way everyone wants him to act; well at least the way he thinks he should act. But this kind and gentle nature is just a cover from his sinister attitude. But has this side of Nick always been there, or was this just a result of always acting the way he thinks he should?

The way Nick Corey acts, the lies and manipulating as scary; it’s like Jim Thompson is holding a mirro
Someone recommended this book to me years ago. More than five years ago, in fact. They gushed about it about it to such an extent that I went out and bought several of Thompson's books.

Then they sat on my shelf for the next five years.

I just read this one, and it was every bit as good as my friend implied. It's not my usual genre, almost a bit of a western (but not really). But it's told in first person with such an amazing voice that I really wish I hadn't waited so long.

I'll be getting to t
Nick Corey was one of those characters that is truly fascinating to read about but there is no way in the world you can feel for him, root for him even though you read the story from his POV. His story was chilling,grim. There was some great brutal humor too. He is not some twisted serial killer either that is easy to understand.

Writing ability wise this is the best Jim Thompson i have read, i was impressed word by word,the language, the real characters,the humor,the issues he wrote about. He d
Jim Thompson wrote about a lot of sociopaths, but the narrator of "Pop. 1280" is the tops--a cold-blooded sheriff who represents himself as a dumb, aw-shucks good old boy to his townspeople, to the reader, and to himself, even as he plots and does horrible things. By the time you get to the end, you need a shower.
Benoit Lelievre
I'll be damned. I never expected a noir novel to examine the questions of language and perspective in literature. Chalk it up as another achievement in Jim Thompson's career, I guess, having written a novel that tackles both social, psychological and literary issues. POP. 1280 is both a trademark Jim Thompson nightmare and a tremendous satire of turn-of-the-century American novels that abused vernacular.

I can see your question coming from a mile away, though: Is it just like THE KILLER INSIDE ME
My third Jim Thompson book (after The Killer Inside Me and The Grifters) and by far my favourite of the three. Very dark story about local sheriff who at first seems to be a bit of an idiot and a layabout but is revealed as a schemer and a killer as you get into it. Very clever and highly amusing at some points with some brilliant twists in the story. Would have been a 5 star read but for the ending which to me was a bit of a letdown. He really should have given it a better title as well as that ...more
Trixie Fontaine
There are plenty of people who will tell you why this is a classic and what it's about and why you should read it. So I'll just say a couple of not-so-book-related things:

*This cover art sucks


*I finally can believe that George W. really *IS* smart, and just PLAYS dumb! I totally imagine his mind working exactly like Sheriff Nick Corey's, but more evil. Like when Nick says "radius" and "ulna", it was like if shrub slipped and pronounced "nuclear" correctly.

The only disappointment I had was tha
Sep 10, 2008 Andy rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Barney Fifes
Shelves: pulp-fiction
Nobody wrote crazy like Jim Thompson, and this is one of his best. A big oaf with shit for brains who happens to be the town sheriff gets walked on by every creep and low-life in town. He settles the score by taking advantage of everyone under-estimating him as the Village Idiot even though he's got a psychopathic streak a mile wide. Screw that terrible French film, read the book instead.
Set in the 1910's in a small county seat in rural Texas, this Jim Thompson novel explores his customary moral terrain, where crime, duplicity, and infidelity flourish, and the truth is so hard to come by you couldn't buy it with a truckload of money. The central character, a sheriff named Mitch, pretends to be not too bright while scheming against anyone who happens to be an inconvenience in his life. Beginning with the removal of the public outdoor privies outside his living quarters in the cou ...more
Ismael Galvan
I decided to keep the pulp fiction train going with another classic. POP. 1280 by Jim Thompson is a story takes place in a small, racially segregated, god fearing town called Potts County. Nick Corey, the High Sheriff, is known to the townsfolk and his wife as the easygoing moronic lawman that’s too cowardly to arrest anybody. What nobody knows is that hidden underneath his goofy exterior lays a mercilessly sinister and manipulative personality. One day Nick gets tired of the corruption in the t ...more
Defraudado: plano, descriptivo, dialogado...
Nick Corey is the High Sheriff of Potts County Texas, population 1280. Nick is also a psychopathic version of Mayberry's Andy Taylor sans Aunt Bee, Opie and Barney Fife. Nick's dumb "aw shucks" country boy act works to outmaneuver and manipulate his various enemies, his wife, his brother in law and very demanding girlfriends to homicidal violence as he goes to church on Sunday and sings in the choir. I get that this is "Country Noir" but it celebrated Nick's pathology a little too much for my ta ...more
rachel  misfiticus

The taste of blood is still in my mouth.
Blood and dirt mingle, drawing on the creative profanity.
Dirty words and sex on Sunday (oh my!).

I completely indulged in this book.
Well, I'll be gosh-darned if this ain't the strangest danged book. The first couple of chapters are pretty bad (in an intentional way that only becomes apparent later) and if this hadn't been a Jim Thompson book with a reputation I wouldn't have continued reading. But if you keep reading, before you know it you are trapped in Pop. 1280's insidious world. The narrator, Sheriff Nick Corey, is a misanthropic psychopath with a christ complex, and this is putting it in the simplest terms. He's also a ...more
Maria João Fernandes
"Quer dizer, é como comer pipocas - quanto mais se tem, mais se quer."

Nick Corey é o xerife da cidade de Pottsville, que é habitada por, exatamente, 1280 pessoas. O nosso narrador vive com a mulher e o seu irmão deficiente, e na procura por algo mais do que apenas manter o emprego, o xerife resolve os seus problemas diários recorrendo à violência e ao sexo, mantendo-se longe dos caminhos alheios e fazendo-se passar por pouco perspicaz. As suas atividades principais são comer e dormir, estando a
Pop. 1280 by Jim Thompson (1964)

What we have here is a crime fiction mostly with a first person viewpoint of a thoroughly and casually corrupted sheriff. Through his eyes, we live vicariously through his evil deeds and enjoy being powerful as he sleeps with various keys women that he is physically attracted to, outwits the slow witted town folks who gets in his way of being reelected sheriff, and fakes being a slack jawed yokel. While he murders or frame for murder the constituents of Pottsvil
G.L. Jackson
Some simple rules to live by when reading Jim Thompson:

1. A date with a Jim Thompson novel is a descent to the seventh circle of Hell, guaranteed.

2. In his books no one is inherently good, but most characters are inherently bad.

3. You never have to wonder for long if anyone has moral scruples.

4. The twists and turns of the plot are always worth the bumpy ride.

5. Lots of people are going to come to harm, and there will be little or no justification for any of it.

I admire Jim Thompson's writing.
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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 The Getaway After Dark, My Sweet A Hell of a Woman

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“I looked at her, with her hair spilled out on the pillows and the warmth of her body warming mine. And I thought, god-dang, if this ain't a heck of a way to be in bed with a pretty woman. The two of you arguing about murder, and threatening each other, when you're supposed to be in love and you could be doing something pretty nice. And then I thought, well, maybe it ain't so strange after all. Maybe it's like this with most people, everyone doing pretty much the same thing except in a different way. And all the time they're holding heaven in their hands.” 26 likes
“I ain't saying you're a liar, because that wouldn't be polite. But I'll tell you this, ma'am. If I loved liars, I'd hug you to death.” 18 likes
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