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Savage Night

3.86 of 5 stars 3.86  ·  rating details  ·  1,066 ratings  ·  91 reviews
Is Carl Bigelow a fresh-faced college kid looking for a room, or is he a poised hit man tracking down his victim? And if Carl is really two people, what about everyone around him? Savage Night is Thompson at his best, with plot reversals and nightmarish shifts of identity.
Paperback, 149 pages
Published November 5th 1991 by Vintage (first published 1953)
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1984 by George OrwellThe Catcher in the Rye by J.D. SalingerAnimal Farm by George OrwellBrave New World by Aldous HuxleyFahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
Cult Classics
182nd out of 550 books — 675 voters
Double Indemnity by James M. CainThe Postman Always Rings Twice by James M. CainRed Harvest by Dashiell HammettThe Killer Inside Me by Jim ThompsonA Rage in Harlem by Chester Himes
Alan Guthrie's 200 Noirs
7th out of 101 books — 10 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,921)
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Paquita Maria Sanchez
Well, well, well, guess who's from Oklahoma?? Yes, Garth Brooks. Sigh, and Toby Keith. Naturally, Larry Clark. And, ya know, Jim Thompson. Was my point. I should've known that a man with such a rotten view of humanity came from the birthplace of so many rotten things, including my own rotten view of humanity.

No surprise, this book is rotten, though occasionally quite funny. It's the story of a "nice, young" man named Carl Bigelow who shows up in a small college town mid-semester in order to audi
Dan Schwent
Carl Bigelow comes to Peardale to go to college. Or that's his story, at any rate. In reality, he's Charles "Little" Bigger, a tuberculotic hitman, tasked with killing a witness before a case goes to trial. Too bad Bigelow gets entangled with the man's wife...

No two ways about it; there's a lot of weird stuff going on in this one. You've got a five-foot hitman with tuberculosis, an odd cleaning woman (view spoiler), and more
Jul 04, 2007 Dan rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: novels
Best last two pages ever.
kind of the batshit version of cain, hammett, & chandler. sluggishly paced, schematic, w/o much true conflict -- flawed, for sure, but elevated by the vagina farm, all those damn goats, a femme fatale on crutches with a baby foot jutting out of her knee, and those transcendent last few pages. 3.7 rounded down b/c i'm mean.
This is one of my favorite pulp crime novels. Jim Thompson is a master at pedestrian dialogue in the first person structure (see also the Killer Inside Me and After Dark My Sweet), especially in this novel. The narrative is a strange journey into a surreal and maddening hell. It is strange to see some of the reviews cite the book as being boring, and typical noir fair, this book is anything but. From the description of Carl's journey through Grand Central Station where he actually hits a woman w ...more
Jayaprakash Satyamurthy
"Sure there's a hell..." I could hear him saying it now, now as I lay here in bed with her breath in my face, and her body squashed against me..."it is the drab desert where the sun shines neither warmth nor light and Habit force-feeds senile Desire. It is the place where mortal Want dwells with immortal Necessity, and the night becomes hideous with groans of one and the shrieks of the other. Yes, there is a hell, my boy, and you do not have to dig for it..."

Thompson plumbs the depths of mundane
Jan 11, 2009 Dave rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone who likes crime fiction
simply the greatest psycho noir novel written. Carl Bigelow, the self-delusional hit man, is a brilliant creation, as he's literally disintegrating throughout the novel. The ending is devastating. I love Jim Thompson's books, and this is my favorite.
Great writing marred by discursive and inexplicable subplots, problems with the overall story structure, much too slow a pace, and a murky ending that I found totally incomprehensible. Stylistically, it's great at times, but there are just too many logic problems and weird characterization glitches for me to really think it was a good book. However, there are a few passages that should be textbook examples of building suspense.
Corinna Bechko
There's nobody who writes like Jim Thompson, and that's the truth. There are crazy things in this book, and if you keep reading, they keep getting crazier. Is it one long metaphor? Is it psychological horror? Is it a comment on the American dream? I'd hazard that the answer is yes, but it's also one hell of a read.
D.R. Haney
I struggled like crazy through the most of this book. Like so much pulp, it has a lot of filler, and it was just plain hard to follow, with so many of the characters st-st-stuttering. Also -- and not, alas, in a Céline sort of way -- there's...a lot of...ellipsis... D-do you...understand? D-do...y-you?

No, I didn't. The book felt obfuscated for no reason other than to pretend at complexity it didn't in fact possess.

A few days ago, near my wits' end, I asked a friend who'd read the book for his o
Oct 11, 2009 Brian rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Brian by: Ben
Shelves: read-2009
It's like this... whenever I read one of these 'hard-boiled' crime type novels I can't help but read it in a James Cagney's voice... you see. This I believe was my first Jim Thompson novel and I really did enjoy it. Carl Bigelow aka Charlie 'Little' Bigger arrives in a small town to take care of business for 'The Man' and runs into a little problem with the dames. Having bad teeth, damaged eyes, wearing platform shoes and suffering from consumption doesn't seem to stop him from getting the dames ...more
John McDonald
Mar 24, 2009 John McDonald rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: readers interested in the intersection of experimental and popular writing
Shelves: fiction
I'm not sure what to say about my first encounter with Thompson that isn't summed up by crime writer Anthony Boucher's review of Savage Night: "written with vigor and bite, but sheering off from realism into a peculiar surrealist ending of sheer Guignol horror. Odd that a mass-consumption paperback should contain the most experimental writing I've seen in a suspense novel of late."

At times I'm reminded of no other writer so much as I am of William Burroughs (that great experimental repurposer of
M. Milner
There's an old joke I thought of while reading Savage Night: It's not paranoia if they're really out to get you.

Jim Thompson's novel is a blistering, short and wild read. It's occasionally trips over itself as it zigs and zags, is more than occasionally hard to follow, but it's a fun, disturbing ride. It's centered around Carl Bigelow, who may be a hitman sent to somebody set to rat out on the mob. Most of the book hinges around on identity: if Bigelow is really somebody else, who else is preten
From one perspective, Savage Night is fairly pedestrian noir. A mob assassin, Charlie Bigger, insinuates himself into a small town as part of his plan for killing a witness in an upcoming trial. This plan, of course, proves to be unnecessarily complicated, as the conventions of noir sometimes require. So far, nothing memorable. But Jim Thompson adds to the mix a startling grotesquerie that turns Savage Night into something altogether new in the noir vein. I will say nothing more about this, as S ...more
Debra Daniels-zeller
The plot is a stranger comes to town. It's a creepy tale told by Carl Bigelow or Little Charlie Bigger, a hitman, mistaken for a student when he comes to town. This is pulp fiction at its best. Men calling Carl, "sonny," offering him menial work. But who is he going to kill? And why does he go to classes? Who is The Man? The Fruit Jar shows up and it's clear that Little Bigger, as they call him, has psychopathic tendencies. I couldn' guess the ending and it stayed with me for a long time. I love ...more
Gary Taylor
An interesting and pretty quick read.
The reader has little empathy for any of the characters,they all just seem to be there to move the story forward.Not a story that will stay with me,nor will it put me off from reading other works by Thompson.
Ken Kuhlken
This is Thompson's strangest novel, at least of those I've read, and I've read most of them. Although it might not be for everyone, readers who appreciate the effort of a writer to delve into mysteries beyond the realm of the mundane and "realistic" ought to appreciate.
Why isn't Jim Thompson worshipped by lovers of dark mystery? In this instance, he takes a mundane noir story and turns it into a fever dream. There were so many disturbing twists and images throughout the book (especially the end) that it's unfair to catalog them in a review. Too dark for everybody except Connie :-)
Dec 10, 2007 Jake rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: noir
Absolute classic of noir fiction. Thompson was at the top of his whiskey-soaked game here. A truly weird book, not at all what many people think of as "crime fiction." The last thirty pages or so are damn near surrealist.
Sean Owen
Jim Thompson was the master of noir. "Savage Night" has all the hallmarks of great Thompson: an unreliable narrator, dark humor, twists and turns and there isn't a decent person in the book. In addition to this there's a lot of strange stuff going on that you don't normally find in Thompson. There's the section about the road trip with the writer and his farm full of screaming goats. You could even call some of this non-standard Thompson stuff borderline psychedelic. It's not his best offering n ...more
A master writer of dark and pulp fiction, the author's writing is relevant even after 60 years. The main character is a outright hitman with past track record of killing many without a trace of proof is hired to kill a witness. The situation he goes through puts him into his own game. May not be one of the best of the jim, but is definite a suspenseful and unpredictable fiction. Jim was able to put lot of meaning with few words and make the reader imagine more. A good author is the one who puts ...more
Sheldon Russell
This is an excellent read but not for the weak of heart.
Carole Tyrrell
This was a far more linear narrative than A Hell Of a Woman which was disjointed and hard to follow.
Carl Bigelow, seemingly fresh faced and keen to make a fresh start, moves to Peardale, a quiet town 95 miles from New York. He rents a room, finds a part time job in a local bakery and enrols at the nearby college. So far, so good.
But Carl has an interesting sideline. He’s a contract killer and has his sights set on Jake Winroy, the chief witness in a corruption trial. But Bigelow easily insinuat
Открывалась книга без особого энтузиазма. Но - неожиданно! - мне понравилось. Не до восторженных воплей и желания перечитать все книги автора или вообще поближе познакомиться с жанром. Но в следующий раз - когда мне попадется что-то из нуара - я открою и прочту, а не буду утверждать, что это не мое.

Сюжет достаточно прост. Бывшего наемного убийцу, Малыша Чарли Биггера (никто его не видел, никто не знает, полиция ни разу не арестовывала, бла бла бла), отошедшего от дел и залегшего на дно, находит
This is a great work by Thompson here.This is a really fast and fun read. Who is Carl in the story ? this is the crux fro everyone, this man's troubled world is so convoluted the reader never knows what side of the coin you are on. The identity of the protagonist is so obscure I couldn't even tell if he was who he said he was and got wrapped up in this mess, or it was so cleverly calculated.
Of course, it all works out I did see this as it was, but did I?
Just when you think you have it sorted ou
Jake Winroy deve morire. L'organizzazione ha deciso che la "cosa" deve essere fatta, nella maniera più pulita e "accidentale" entro la data del processo che vedrà coinvolta l'organizzazione che rischia grosso se l'ex galoppino Jake Winroy testimoniasse circa le sue attività.
E così l'Uomo, il boss dell'organizzazione incarica, stanandolo dal suo ritiro, il più temibile e inafferabile dei killer d'America: Charlie "Little" Bigger.
Charlie Bigger viene quindi spedito a Peardale, sotto la falsa ident
Empieza como Jim Thompson y termina como Kafka. Un encargo fácil a un asesino profesional es el punto de partida, pero El Castillo también va de un hombre al que han contratado de agrimensor. Las últimas páginas son de las que no se van de la cabeza. New Weird Noir, si algo así existiera. Aquello de que las cosas no son lo que parecen resuena aquí como en ninguna otra novela de Thompson que haya leído, el narrador es el menos fiable.
Alex Yalen
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Chris King
After reading Pop. 1280, I was stoked to read more by Jim T. Savage Night was a letdown, alas. Anticlimactic. It tells the story of this little guy who happens to be a sociopathic killer on the lam from both the law and "The Man," an all-powerful underworld figure who ropes him into a hit-job against his will. It's got the usual tropes, used well enough--hard bitten protagonist, sultry dames, double crosses, etc. but after telling a concrete story, I think he cops out at the end with a vague and ...more
Thompson never fails to enthrall me with this writing style and well-defined characters. As with others of his, I'm always left wondering exactly what happened in the end. His characters start off seeming sane enough, but go down-hill from there. Highly recommended. He was ahead of his time.
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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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“I finished the ale, started to order a third one, and decided against it. I'd had enough. More than enough. Or I never would have. You take just so much from a bottle, and then you stop taking. From then on you're putting.” 3 likes
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