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A Hell of a Woman

3.96  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,463 Ratings  ·  109 Reviews
A Hell of a Woman is Jim Thompson's homegrown version of Crime and Punishment. It is a novel utterly devoid of sentiment, where a murderer goes about his deadly business without a prayer of redemption.
Mass Market Paperback, Paperback Original, 160 pages
Published 1954 by Lion Books
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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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 19, 2014 Kemper rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Jul 15, 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
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
Jun 04, 2012 Ben Winch rated it it was amazing
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  ·  review of another edition
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 21, 2009 Andy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 26, 2014 David rated it it was amazing
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
Aug 02, 2013 Josh rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 06, 2015 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
May 07, 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
Mar 02, 2011 Michael rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Aug 07, 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.
Warren Stalley
Aug 25, 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
Tomas Boudreau
Feb 24, 2014 Tomas Boudreau rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Dostoevsky without hope.
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
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
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
Andrew Diamond
Apr 20, 2016 Andrew Diamond rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Although the plot is a bit clumsy and farfetched in places, this is still an excellent book. As usual with Thompson, he wastes no time getting the story started. Frank "Dolly" Dillon spies the woman who will will be his undoing in the first sentence of the book, and by the end of the first chapter, you know that these particular characters meeting under these particular circumstances are bound for trouble.

Thompson is simply brilliant at conveying how character and circumstance combine to form d
Alex Budris
After hearing so much almost awe-inspired praise for Jim Thomson from notable authors such as Joe Lansdale and Stephen king, and from sources such as "The Kirkus Review", and "The New York Times", I finally got around to reading one of his novels.

"A Hell of a Woman" is one hell of a book. It's mystery, suspense, crime, noir... but somewhere in the book's DNA - though nobody would dare formally classify it as this - is horror. Psychological horror to be precise. Thompson projects feelings of para
Felix Zilich
Jun 25, 2014 Felix Zilich rated it liked it
Shelves: crime
Мы привыкли, что коммивояжеры в книгах - улыбчивые и помятые парни с обязательным чемоданом в руке. Фрэнк Диллон - из другого теста. Он и коммивояжер, и коллектор в одном лице. Его контора не только ходит из дома в дом, но еще и продаёт в кредит, поэтому в обязанностях Фрэнка стучаться в дома клиентов-алкашей и трясти с них деньги за купленный по дурости сервиз или новое пальтишко.

В очередной квартире хозяйка предлагает Диллону расплатиться за фаянсовые тарелочки своей несовершеннолетней племян
This is the fourth book I've read by Thompson. I have mixed feelings about this one.

The story is a familiar one: A down-on-his-luck male protagonist has a failing marriage and finds ways to swindle and manipulate everyone around him. In true Thompson form, the first half of this book is a slow buildup to madness. We see the main character in a failing marriage. We see him struggling at his job. And we get glimpses of the tortured inner life that comes to define much of Thompson's lead character
Feb 15, 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.
Jeridel Banks
Jul 01, 2014 Jeridel Banks rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: pulp
A Hell of a Woman is a good read, especially for people who love Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett. It's a departure from the usual detective crime stories. Readers are "Dolly", a door salesman for a sleazy boss in a small city, trying to fill the unlucky breaks he's gotten in life. When he meets Mona, he decides to change their lives, even if murder gets the job done.

This is my first book by Jim Thompson, but I don't think it's his best. The prose is good and the tone is great. I just didn
Jul 02, 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.
Nov 09, 2015 VanBrianne rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Oh Oh Oh, Jim. Why.
Such a disappointment after reading "The Killer Inside Me". Hate is a strong word. I didn't hate the book, but I was seriously disappointed. Especially considering I know what a talent he was, and "The Killer Inside Me" was absolute brilliance! How the hell can you go from THAT to THIS!?
It was just weak all around, the characters were weak, the plot was weak (and even, dare I say, a bit stupid), etc.

The most annoying and infuriating part about the book was the ending! And t
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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...

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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.” 23 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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