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A Hell of a Woman

3.95  ·  Rating Details ·  2,605 Ratings  ·  122 Reviews
¿Quién tiene la potestad de perdonar una vida o de dar muerte? En el caso de Dillon, un vendedor a domicilio de escasa moral, todas las dudas se disipan cuando conoce a la joven y frágil Mona, que durante años ha sido víctima de las maldades de su tía, una rica anciana que ha llegado a convertirla prácticamente en una prostituta.
¿No merece la muerte un ser tan despreciabl
Paperback, 288 pages
Published 2005 by Orion (first published 1954)
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Dan Schwent
Down on his luck salesman Frank Dillon meets a girl named Mona who's being abused and practically put on the street corner by her elderly aunt. When Dillon finds out the aunt has over a hundred thousand dollars hidden in the house, he plans to kill her and run off with Mona. Unfortunately, this book was written by Jim Thompson...

Nobody writes noir tales about the wheels coming off an already shaky plan like old Mr. Cheerful himself, Jim Thompson. A Hell of a Woman is a tale very nearly from the
Dec 14, 2014 Kemper rated it really liked it
It’s nice to know that when everyday life starts to seem kind of depressing that you can escape into a good book. Unless that book is by Jim Thompson. Then you’re screwed.

Frank ‘Dolly’ Dillon will tell you that he’s a hard working joe saddled with a lazy wife, and he just can’t catch a break at his job as salesman/collection agent for a company that sells cheap goods on credit to poor people. While making his rounds Dolly meets Mona, a young woman who is being pimped out her by nasty old aunt, a
Jun 30, 2015 Darwin8u rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
"L'enfer, c'est les autres"
- Jean-Paul Sartre, No Exit


There is only so much Jim Thompson one should read in a summer. Even an Arizona summer starts to seem dark under the weight of too much Thompson. Finishing this book makes me want to punch someone. Hard. Look, this isn't his best pitch. I get it. He's done better stuff. Things that will hang with you longer. Stories that were a bit more dynamic. But still, reading this Dimestore Dostoevsky is going to bend you no matter how this book measures
Richard Vialet
This is the first Jim Thompson book I've read (don't know why it took so long), but it was definitely an experience. The story starts out with a fairly simple and familiar noir plot, focusing on a door-to door salesman who gets smitten for a meek, but strangely attractive young woman, and hatches a plot to steal some dough from her aunt, who's a down-right deplorable old witch that pimps out her niece to everyone around town. But eventually, it evolves into this totally bizarre and unpredictable ...more
these 3 star ratings reflect a lack of consistency as thompson was a pulpdrunk piece-of-shit meet-a-deadline writer who could reach great heights but then'd mar the work with some sloppyass booshit. just as simenon, in response to a question asking if he had a 'great' book in him, said that all his slim, singularly focused books were mere tiles in a great mosaic, i kinda think thompson's oeuvre adds up to something greater than the sum of its parts. they usually follow a pretty traditional route ...more
Ben Winch
May 29, 2012 Ben Winch rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: american, pulp, anglo, 5-stars
Dammit, I knew it! I just reviewed the whole Jim Thompson omnibus when deep down I knew that one review of A Hell of a Woman would say just about all I need to say about Jim Thompson. It's great! An underrated classic! From the first page you know this is Thompson at his best: the girl glimpsed through a window in a lightning storm, the hard-luck shyster salesman-cum-debt-collector out in the rain lusting after her, and the slang-talking first-person POV he would make famous in The Killer Inside ...more
James Thane
Sep 14, 2011 James Thane rated it really liked it
Shelves: crime-fiction, noir
This is vintage Jim Thompson--a story filled with irredeemable characters and lots of sex, violence and alcohol.

Frank Dillon is an outside salesman/collector for a company that preys on low-income people. He drinks too hard and plays fast and loose with his company accounts. A parade of unsatisfactory women have passed through his life, all of them memorable only for the faults they displayed. And then Frank meets the beautiful Mona, a sexy young woman desperately in need of being rescued from
Apr 18, 2009 Andy rated it it was amazing
Shelves: pulp-fiction
I remember buying this when Black Lizard first came out and the cover was laminated with an amazing cover by Nancy McGregor showing an insane Marilyn Monroe leering right at you in a darkened office. That cover pulled $3.95 out of my pocket in record time. Since it was my last $3.95 I had to go downtown and donate my blood so I could have more money for books.
I read "A Hell Of A Woman" lying on a gurney pumping my plasma for book dough, and the transfusion didn't make my blood run cold, this awe
Carla Remy
Nov 25, 2016 Carla Remy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good plot, good suspense. Displays Thompson's mastery of twisted perspective shifts. Kind of just sinks into a hellhole at the end, like a fair amount of his fiction does.
Comment from 2008: In recent months, I seem to have stumbled into the project of reading in publication order the collected works the noirboiled greats. Thus, since beginning to read noir in an orderly way, I've read the first two novels of Charles Williams, the first three of Raymond Chandler, the first six or seven by Cornell Woolrich, etc. At some point, I'll start with the first Jim Thompson book, and begin working my way through his canon in an orderly fashion, too, and when I reach (and re ...more
Dec 26, 2012 Josh rated it liked it
Shelves: own, read_2013
A door to door salesman stumbles across a young woman being held captive against her will and used as a sex slave by an unassuming yet villainous older woman. Offered the services of the sex slave as payment for goods he quickly turns down the offer (one of his very few redeemable moments) and sets out to free Mona. Of course, the cool thousand buck score sweetens the deal.

Frank Dillion (aka Dolly) isn’t a nice man. He’s abusive, a scammer; a grifter of sorts with little going for him apart fro
Jul 08, 2014 Lynn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sure fire formula for a great book....completely messed up, unreliable narrator who degenerates into madness. I despise people who don't accept responsibility for their actions, but somehow I forgive it in a Jim Thompson character. Frank Dillon is such a heel that I had to laugh at him. Crazy ass ending as usual....sort of a split-screen drug experience thing..... I've never read anything like it, except Thompson.
Deborah Sheldon
"There's just some guys that get the breaks, and some that don't. And me, I guess you know the kind I am." Not my favourite Jim Thompson novel, but a great read nonetheless, with a complex narrator and a plot that twists and turns in a dozen different ways.
Mitch Duckworth
Apr 29, 2014 Mitch Duckworth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Thompson is something akin to a genre of his own . . . You know a great deal before you read a single sentence. You know you're going to shake your head in disbelief and surprise at the outrageous behavior and complete disregard of the moral code evidenced by a still-completely likable protagonist. You know you're going to find yourself laughing at things that in life would be horribly un-laughable. You know that at some point, you're jaw is going to hang open—your eyebrows elevated to the apex ...more
Feb 15, 2011 Michael rated it really liked it
I picked this Jim Thompson book off the shelf without expecting very much. It's generally not mentioned amongst the more lauded books Thompson has written, like Savage Night, Killer Inside Me, and Pop. 1280. Fortunately, it's just as strong as those aforementioned books, and if you're a Jim Thompson fan, I suggest you give this one a go.

The main character Frank "Dolly" Dillon is a pretty standard Thompson protagonist; he's ruthless, bibulous, hostile toward women, looking for an angle, and an un
Christopher Fulbright
A HELL OF A WOMAN is a hell of a book, but if you've read much Jim Thompson you know that already. This isn't one of his better known novels I suppose -- at least, I hadn't heard a lot about it -- but it does have his signature plot turns and a lot of punch.

This is a fast read, and not just because it's a pretty short book. Thompson keeps the pressure on his main guy and never lets up. The end of every chapter throws a new wrench in the works, making this a gripping read that's hard to put down.
Feb 03, 2015 Mohammed rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: noir, jim-thompson
This is a new experience for me, i havent read an avreage JT novel before and this was less than i expect from his kind of noir stories of characters with depth, the tight storytelling driven by the many compelling characters.

This novel the only character with depth, written decently compared to what i have come to expect from Thompson is the POV lead role Frank "Dolly" Dillion. He is unreliable narrator, disgusting pig when it comes to women, a real loser even in his own mind but at-least he w
Jul 22, 2011 Susanne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I don't know what the new, modern cover is supposed to illustrate but THIS ->> A Hell of a Woman by Jim Thompson depicts the opening scene. And who knew you could get away with publishing such a perverse and sexual set-up back then? In fact, if adjectives like dark, perverse, sexual, and bleak make you prick up your ears, this is your book. They don't get much more noir than this.
Tomas Boudreau
Oct 18, 2012 Tomas Boudreau rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Dostoevsky without hope.
Joanne Renaud
Feb 24, 2015 Joanne Renaud rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Joanne by: Amelia Mangan
Sleazy, violent, misogynistic and black as pitch: welcome to the world of Jim Thompson. His writing isn't for everyone, and I felt like I had to take a shower at frequent intervals, but his characters and world-building are incredibly compelling. The... "hero"... okay, protagonist... if I can even call him that... is a winning guy named Frank "Dolly" Dillon, a broke-ass door-to-door salesman for some 1950s Rent-a-Center type outfit. His heroic instincts, such as they are, are revived when he com ...more
Oct 01, 2015 Piker7977 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime-mystery

When asked what "noir" means, James Ellroy answered "It means you're f*@#ed." Dread, despair, anxiety, fear, excitement, longing, dreaming, euphoria, risk, danger, lust, passion, scheming.... All conjured up in this "noir" masterpiece from Jim Thompson.

Thompson's great strength is putting the reader in the mind of somebody who is truly deranged, desperate or psychotic ... maybe all three at once. These characters are superhuman or mystical figures. They are citizens caught up in the gri
Jan 12, 2011 Matthew rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another Thompson sociopath charts a course to hell. Frank "Dolly" Dillon is a salesman/money collector selling and collecting for cheap garbage with a huge mark up, but has been skimming his payouts and doctoring the paperwork. The only luck Frank ever knew was baaaaaad luck. On the hunt for a deadbeat he meets an evil old woman willing to prostitute her niece for set of dishes. Because he's such a great guy, he doesn't take up with the girl, instead plots to kill the miserly crone and start a n ...more
Good Christ, this book is disturbing. It's classic Thompson from his incredibly productive period -- hard, nasty, unsympathetic, unsentimental, basically evil. You think you're being treated nice and then it smacks you in the face with a crowbar -- and you let it. At the end it all disintegrates into complete incomprehensible psychosis. Apparently there was some dispute between Thompson and the publisher as to how the experimental section at the end was typeset -- whatever, I'm kind of shocked t ...more
Warren Stalley
Aug 01, 2015 Warren Stalley rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Travelling salesman Frank “Dolly” Dillon thinks he knows all the angles but when he meets shy stunner Mona Farrell and her manipulative aunt then his scheming and dreaming suddenly start to go awry. With the small matter of a hidden stash of 100,000 dollars greed, lust and murder all conspire to drag Frank into his own personal hell, gradually losing his mind. As usual with Jim Thompson the delicate balance of life slowly starts to disintegrate as Frank realises that he’s just born to lose. A He ...more
Cullen Gallagher
Jul 16, 2008 Cullen Gallagher rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
A masterpiece of cheap lives, small-town desperation, and absent morals. The last few pages, in which the protagonist has a mental breakdown, is written in alternating lines of conflicting consciousness: its among the most evocative, frightening, and beautiful prose I've read. The protagonist, a sleazy door-to-door salesman, is the epitome of the Thompson archetype: he fears betrayal because he, himself, has no loyalties, and sees no justification for them; his over-confidence is equaled only by ...more
Tucker Stone
Aug 14, 2016 Tucker Stone rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The story of a man, a woman, and money that doesn't belong to them: that's the plot of a bunch of Jim Thompson books, but few of them go as nightmarish in the final pages, and that's saying something when you remember...oh, just about anything else he wrote after the first three books. There's a temptation when reading a book like this to fly through the words just to see in what specific way this one will go wrong, but if you can slow down, do so. There's just so much here that's worth savoring ...more
Sep 09, 2013 Ffiamma rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: americana
non si salva nessuno, nei libri di thompson: non solo i diavoli di donne, ma anche gli uomini. tutti marci, tutti pronti a esplodere in un delirio di violenze e nefandezze, tutti ai margini del sogno americano. e alcol, abbrutimento, sordidezza, disonestà- con uno stile semplice eppure incisivo (mi è sembrata buona la traduzione di luca briasco).
Jan 18, 2013 David rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There's a lot to A HELL OF A WOMAN that most people won't like, and that's kind of the point. All too often great characters do great things and the world watches and it's...well...great. But life isn't always like that and every once and a while there's a book like this. Unreliable narration, irredeemable characters and a lot of wrong that'll make you question your expectations as a reader.
Jun 05, 2009 Maureen rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2009, novels
this book reminded me a lot of charles williams' the hot spot. i like the characterization of the creep narrator very much but the story isn't much, and there isn't much to keep one's interest. i like the last couple of pages quite a lot though: the overlapping left me bemused and wondering about the proper ending to this tale.
Raegan Butcher
Apr 27, 2008 Raegan Butcher rated it liked it
Another twisty thriller from Jim Thompson with a marvelous downbeat ending.
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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
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“I told her the world was full of nice people. I'd have hated to try to prove it to her, but I said it, anyway.” 24 likes
“I sat down in a booth, and the waitress shoved a menu in front of me. There wasn’t anything on it that sounded good, and anyway, one look at her and my stomach turned flipflops… Every goddamned restaurant I go to, it’s always the same way… They’ll have some old bag on the payroll — I figure they keep her locked up in the mop closet until they see me coming. And they’ll doll her up in the dirtiest goddamned apron they can find and smear that crappy red polish all over her fingernails, and everything about her is smeary and sloppy and smelly. And she’s the dame that always waits on me.” 2 likes
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