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Wild Town

3.78  ·  Rating Details ·  813 Ratings  ·  22 Reviews
In trouble more often than not, guilty of assault, manslaughter, and honorably discharged from the military by the skin of his teeth, David "Bugs" McKenna can't seem to help doing the right thing at the wrong time--or the wrong thing, every chance he gets.

But when he drifts his way into Ragtown, Texas, things seem to finally be turning around for Bugs. He gets his first jo
ebook, 176 pages
Published December 25th 2011 by Mulholland Books (first published 1957)
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Jun 30, 2015 Darwin8u rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
Jim Thompson has basically written a locked-room mystery in a West Texas, frontier boom town.


All the hard-boiled pieces are set. There are several femme fatales, a sheriff that seems to be brilliant and quietly manipulative, a slow-witted, hot-headed house detective, and a shabby hotel. Not my favorite Thompson, but that belittles the truth. I love all Jim Thompson's stuff. He writes from both the head and the gut. Each of his novels seem to contain a bit of Crime AND Punishment. They all seem
Oct 07, 2008 F.R. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I’ve never read a bad Jim Thompson. The world he creates is so real and yet so his, you can almost smell the cheap whisky and desperation. This is another great tale of suckers, hard dames and homicide, with an ending that defies expectations to such an extent it is brilliant.
May 29, 2016 Bobby rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: jim thompson fans
Perhaps not top shelf Thompson, but fans of his will enjoy this much tamer whodunit tale of murder and extortion set in and around The Hanlon hotel in a west Texas oil boom town.

Bugs McKenna, ex-cop and ex-con all rolled into one lug, is fresh out of jail and is given a hand-plucked opportunity to be the house dick at the Hanlon (that's house detective, you pervs). Things seem to be on the up and up for 'ol slow-witted, but not stupid, Mckenna... until a little bit of murder and a missing five t
Guy Salvidge
I've read a lot of Jim Thompson books and this certainly isn't one of the better ones. Here the author re-uses Lou Ford from The Killer Inside Me, but unfortunately this strange quasi-prequel isn't of the standard of Killer.
John Wilson
Ex-cop/ex-con Bugs McKenna doesn't have it easy. Bad stuff keeps a-happening to him. It's all down to occasional bouts of being a gormless bad-tempered lunkhead. After years of bad luck he manages to snag the job of hotel detective in a dustbowl Texas town and starts to settle down. He even manages to look downright normal compared to the rest of the staff - the alcoholic overly paranoid night manager; the auditor who's sleeping with the owner's wife and skimming the hotel's funds; the twin brot ...more
May 22, 2011 jennifer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
For some reason, local sheriff Lou Ford releases Bugs McKenna from jail and gets him a job at the nicest hotel in town as the house detective. Bugs can't stop wondering why Ford would do that for a stranger, one with a police record of violence, but he quickly begins to suspect that the smiling, drawling sheriff has a plan that needs a fall guy.

If you're like me and discovered Thompson through The Killer Inside Me, you'll be thrilled to find that he's plucked some of his characters from that ama
Apr 02, 2016 Williwaw rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime-noir
I have read at least three other books by Jim Thompson: Pop. 1280; A Hell of a Woman; and The Killer Inside Me. Those three books were brilliant depictions of the twisted workings of pathological and criminal minds.

Wild Town, in contrast, is a fairly conventional book. It's not quite a whodunnit, but it's not too far from that. Also, I didn't find the pacing or the style nearly as compelling as in any of the three books mentioned above.

Of interest to those who may have already read The Killer
I just wasn't that crazy about this one. To tell you the truth, I lost track of the mystery about halfway through and by the end of it I just didn't really give a damn. As with all Thompson, passages are sheer brilliance, but it was overall just to dull and confused for my taste. Another hotel story, which I liked. The other Thompson hotel-staff story is A Swell-Looking Babe, which I liked much better.
I struggled through this one after the reasonable good setup where Bugs McKenna is released from jail by Deputy Lou Ford ( recurring character of Thompson's) and given a job as a hotel detective. Plenty of noir dealings and double dealings, but the plot and the narrative shifts are almost incomprehensible at times. The ending, where Lou Ford spends five pages describing what really happened, pretty much confirmed my sense that Thompson had lost control of the narrative and had to tell us what he ...more
Aug 06, 2012 Marley rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is another book I'm revisiting this year. I wasn't impressed the first time around, but even with it's fault, I really enjoyed it. Nothing is as it seems in Ragtown or at the Hanlon Hotel.

I've not read any other Jim Thompson, so I can't compar4e it, but from other reviews it seems this is not his greatest. I'm now interested in reading some more--especially with the same characters which I understand there are. In the meantime, Wild Town is a fun read with it's convoluted ending. For someo
Jun 18, 2010 Neil rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
it's always a little weird when authors re-use characters,
but here Thompson forklifted Lou Ford and Amy Standish
from 'The Killer Inside Me' but completely changed their
motivations. Hard to shed the baggage of their
earlier incarnations.

Aside from that, the dénouement had things way more
convoluted than expected, and a bit unbelievable.
May 28, 2008 Andy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: lukewarm noir fans
Shelves: pulp-fiction
Read The Getaway or Pop. 1280 instead of this messy book. The plot doesn't really pay off too well, and it's another one of his hotel mysteries in a similar vein to A Swell Looking Babe. There's also a three-babe buffet similar to The Grifters.
But hell, read The Killer Inside Me or After Dark My Sweet instead.
Apr 22, 2013 Mike rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I suppose this is sort of a prequel to "The Killer Inside Me." Sheriff Lou Ford appears here at his manipulative best -- before the cracks started to appear in his armour. He uses school teacher Amy as a pawn in his plans and you just fear for how he'll treat her down the road. I enjoyed this book and seeing a functioning sociopath at work.
Phillip Frey
Sep 05, 2012 Phillip Frey rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who likes gritty crime books.
With this book I have completed all the Jim Thompson I could get my hands on. Bugs McKenna, an ex-con, gets to be a hotel detective and that's when the hell begins in this frontier oil boom town.
Nov 04, 2014 Carlos rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Intrigante, envolvente, inteligentemente resuelta, como todo lo que hace este gran autor; no obstante, no logra los alcances ni la fuerza narrativa de sus grandes obras.
Titus G
The book faithfully portrays the slow witted protagonist and his interpretation of events until the complicated reality is revealed at the end in the manner of a Sherlock Holmes or Simenon mystery.
Michael Stewart
Mar 22, 2016 Michael Stewart rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A rather restrained Jim Thompson pot-boiler. Relatively violence-free - a real departure.

Not up to his best works such as THE KILLER INSIDE ME nor THE GRIFTERS.
Oct 20, 2014 Anna rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: wishlist
I like the stories also by this Jim. The narration, the story - and the narrator voice too.
Format: audio, nls
Nov 24, 2013 Anders rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An entertaining whodunnit-Thompson filled with unexpected plot-twists, otherwise rather straight forward. J.T. is always worth my while.
Rzwan Cabani
Rzwan Cabani rated it it was amazing
Aug 23, 2012
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j. ergo rated it liked it
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Jul 21, 2016
Terry rated it really liked it
Feb 17, 2014
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Davi Bravo rated it liked it
Apr 07, 2015
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Josie Boyce rated it really liked it
Nov 02, 2012
Hans rated it really liked it
Jan 25, 2012
Buck Banks
Buck Banks rated it it was amazing
Jun 30, 2013
John Shirreffs
John Shirreffs rated it really liked it
Jan 08, 2010
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Lars rated it liked it
Nov 18, 2015
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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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