Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Fools in Town Are on Our Side” as Want to Read:
The Fools in Town Are on Our Side
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Fools in Town Are on Our Side

4.19  ·  Rating Details ·  350 Ratings  ·  27 Reviews
“Hain’t we got all the fools in town on our side? And ain’t that a big enough majority in any town?” —Mark Twain

Ross Thomas chose the quotation from Huckleberry Finn as the text of this post-World War II story as well as for the title. When Lucifer Dye is released after three months in a Hong Kong prison, debriefed, and handed a false passport, a new wardrobe, and a $20,00
Paperback, 384 pages
Published May 16th 2003 by Minotaur Books (first published 1970)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Fools in Town Are on Our Side, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Fools in Town Are on Our Side

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha ChristieThe Big Sleep by Raymond ChandlerThe Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan DoyleFarewell, My Lovely by Raymond ChandlerThe Moonstone by Wilkie Collins
Bloomsbury 100 Must Read Crime Novels
114th out of 154 books — 132 voters
Coyote in Provence by Dianne HarmanAnd Then There Were None by Agatha ChristieMurder on the Orient Express by Agatha ChristieDeath on the Nile by Agatha ChristieThe Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle
98th out of 279 books — 248 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 623)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
James Thane
Aug 06, 2012 James Thane rated it really liked it
Shelves: crime-fiction
Ross Thomas, who died in 1995, deserves to be remembered with other great masters of the crime novel of the latter twentieth century. He wrote a number of intriguing books that were cleverly plotted, filled with interesting characters and that often dealt with the corruption that lies just under the surface of American life.

The Fools in Town Are on Our Side, which was first published in 1970, takes its inspiration from a quote by Mark Twain. The main protagonist, Lucifer Dye, has had a most unco
Mal Warwick
Jul 28, 2015 Mal Warwick rated it it was amazing
For extended periods over the past several decades, I’ve been reading mysteries by the carload. I thought that by now I’d be reasonably familiar with the best writers in the genre. Somehow, I missed Ross Thomas, who penned twenty-three crime novels between 1966 and 1994 and passed away in 1995. I came across The Fools in Town Are on Our Side in a list of someone’s idea of the 100 best mysteries of all time. I don’t know about many of the other 99, but this one surely belongs on that list.

David Schlosser
Nov 13, 2013 David Schlosser rated it really liked it
Recommended to David by: Michael Jacobs
This is a really interesting book, and I devoured it in basically one rainy vacation day. As a recovering political/policy guy -- something covered deeply in this book -- I'm not sure how I feel about it. I will probably have to cogitate a while before deciding if I will ever know how I feel about it, but I can tell you it's a terrific read. I know this is true because it's about a bunch of thoroughly dislikeable creeps but you can't stop turning pages. In this vein, consider Thank You for Smoki ...more
Mar 04, 2009 Tom rated it it was amazing
A remarkable "thriller". Far, far beyond the pack in terms of writing, complexity, cynical double-crosses, and simultaneous story lines. Two scenes are almost unforgettable: one in which the narrator and his father get caught in the bombing of Shanghai, and one in which the narrator meets with the "good ole boy" VIPs of the town he's been contracted to corrupt.

This was the first Ross Thomas novel I read (in 2009! Shame on me...), and I've since read several others, which were good to excellent i
Jul 01, 2015 Karl rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Read in 1970
Feb 10, 2013 Sharron rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery-suspense
I quite frankly wondered whether or not I would find a story this old (40+ years) as entertaining and relevant as I did when I read other titles by Ross Thomas back in the 70s and 80s. Happily for me, I did. Few authors have created characters more colorful and outrageous than Thomas. And you would be hard pressed to find one with a more cynical yet humorous view of human nature -especially when it comes to individuals with wealth and power.
Mar 14, 2016 Hoolie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
To get better, it must get much worse. Ain't that the truth. I loved this. Forget the airport action thrillers, and the current favored gruesome best selling novels that seem to condone violence against women. This is the best. It's pure fiction but so well written that everything trite comes off original. Reminded me of Wild At Heart (the book) but less hot pink and more worsted wool.
Aug 28, 2010 David rated it it was amazing
Shockingly affecting for a book this schematically absurd. I don't know how Thomas managed that, but I'm kind of in awe of the skills. Oh, and funny as hell, except when it really isn't at all.
Liam Green
Jun 18, 2016 Liam Green rated it it was amazing
Ross Thomas is probably the best crime/espionage/political fiction writer that not enough people have read. There's cynicism but not hopelessness, violence but not overkill, razor-sharp dialogue and prose, excellent pacing. And a lot of drinking. Everyone in Thomas books is a damned lush, albeit a bunch of functioning lushes, much like Thomas was in real life.

THE FOOLS IN TOWN has a lot of similarity to Hammett's RED HARVEST - a cynical ex-law enforcement type (here a former CIA op instead of a
John Culuris
I once heard Thomas described as “readable.” Not sure whether it was intended as compliment or insult but I tend to agree with the description. In alternating chapters this novel follows three time periods in the hero’s life until it catches up to the present day--in this case 1970--where the story moves to an unnamed Southern city. And that’s where things get more than a little troublesome. The N-word is thrown around liberally. Not just with bigots and villains but with everybody: good, bad; i ...more
Jun 20, 2016 Stuart rated it really liked it
Ross Thomas traffics in brevity, so I am very impressed that a nearly 400 page novel of his terse, electrifying prose held up as well as one of his fantastic shorter works. Complex plot, characters that are by turn sympathetic and caricature, and lots of scotch, cash and violence. I'll probably end up reading his entire oeuvre this year.
Delia Binder
Apr 07, 2014 Delia Binder rated it it was amazing
Arguably Ross Thomas's best book - it's basically the plot of Kurosawa's YOJIMBO, only without swords and with smart-alecky con (wo)men and ex-Government agents turned mercenaries.
Jul 23, 2015 Mikee rated it it was amazing
Shelves: pulp
This is almost pulp. but very well-written. Actually it IS pulp. Darned good pulp. Fast moving. Always on the edge of ridiculous. Always fun to read.
Karen Kenney
Jul 26, 2014 Karen Kenney rated it really liked it
A thrift store find from 1970. Fun old school secret agent gone bad/good story.
Aug 30, 2010 Bill rated it really liked it
Of the four Ross Thomas books I've read so far, this was my favorite. He manages to weave together three story lines from three different time periods, and they are all interesting enough that I never minded being ripped out of one plot and dropped into another at the beginning of each chapter. The crazy situation keeps building and building and you wonder how in the world our hero will ever get out of it alive. A fun summer read.
Mar 21, 2007 Ron rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone
I re-read this book every couple of years. Not to put too fine a point on it, it is simply the best piece of mind numbing crap ever to be published. It's not deep. It's not realistic. It's not even important. It is, however, laugh out loud funny, engrossing, and entertaining.

A weekend's reading. At most. But the best of its kind ever written.
Oct 12, 2012 Jgwheaton rated it it was amazing
Shelves: noir
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 28, 2011 Dan rated it it was amazing
The fans of Ross Thomas had voted this book as being their all-time favorite with a 4.22 rating out of 5.00 average; and I agree, this book is sensational. Do not expect a politically correct novel, because it is not. However, I could not put this book down, it's quite a read.
Sep 14, 2013 Mark rated it really liked it
Nothing intellectual to say here. I loved it. It takes a massively skilful writer to create a ghastly protagonist that the reader still identifies with and wants to succeed. Very close to 5 stars in the crime fiction genre.
T.M. Merremont
Aug 06, 2013 T.M. Merremont rated it it was amazing
The can be no denying: Ross Thomas is the best "insider" thriller author I've ever come across. His characters are sharp as jagged glass, and just as dangerous if approached from the wrong angle.
Duffy Pearce
Jun 23, 2011 Duffy Pearce rated it really liked it
Very funny, very readable about an unwillingly retired spy who finds freelance work wresting control of a town from crooks
Oct 08, 2011 Sandi rated it really liked it
The author effortlessly mixes espionage, small town corruption, and war time Shanghai into a highly readable crime novel.
Jul 21, 2007 Max rated it really liked it
Brutal noir tale of machiavellian machinations and their human toll. Like the entire Ross Thomas ouevre, not to be missed.
Sean O
Sep 15, 2013 Sean O rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked it, but I thought the only female character existed simply to give the main character someone to sleep with.
Nov 02, 2013 Sinclair rated it really liked it
Great, fast paced with Thomas' usual flare for dialog.
Mike Harper
Aug 03, 2015 Mike Harper rated it really liked it
Just a terrific story!
Mary Mcclain
Jul 07, 2011 Mary Mcclain rated it did not like it
Shelves: on-kindle
it was a freebie
Stephen J Minehart
Stephen J Minehart marked it as to-read
Oct 15, 2016
Daniel rated it really liked it
Oct 03, 2016
Tesserakt marked it as to-read
Oct 02, 2016
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 20 21 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Mrs Eckdorf in O'Neill's Hotel
  • Let Them Call It Jazz and Other Stories
  • Cobra Trap (Modesty Blaise, #13)
  • Flinch: A Novel
  • Beast In View
  • Dead Calm (John Ingram #2)
  • Gary Benchley, Rock Star
  • Murder in the Central Committee
  • Smallbone Deceased (Inspector Hazelrigg, #4)
  • Murder on the Yellow Brick Road (Toby Peters, #2)
Ross Thomas was an American writer of crime fiction. He is best known for his witty thrillers that expose the mechanisms of professional politics. He also wrote several novels under the pseudonym Oliver Bleeck about professional go-between Philip St. Ives.

Thomas served in the Philippines during World War II. He worked as a public relations specialist, reporter, union spokesman, and political strat
More about Ross Thomas...

Share This Book