The Getaway
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The Getaway

3.98 of 5 stars 3.98  ·  rating details  ·  3,053 ratings  ·  125 reviews
Doc McCoy knows everything there is to know about pulling off the perfect bank job. But there are some things he has forgotten--such as a partner who is not only treacherous but insane and a wife who is still an amateur. Worst of all, McCoy has forgotten that when the crime is big and bloody enough, there is no such thing as a clean getaway.
Paperback, 192 pages
Published October 3rd 1990 by Vintage (first published 1958)
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Best Noir
37th out of 497 books — 503 voters
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38th out of 312 books — 136 voters


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Community Reviews

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Paul

I didn't believe a word of this and it's not like this was a first novel, it was his 19th, so I'm thinking that he was maybe drunk in charge of a typewriter or was just having a real bad month, or something.

First off, I don't like characters called Doc. Even if they're doctors. This is a personal quirk, so I tried to disregard it.

Second, if this Doc McCoy is such an all-round criminal mastermind – and that is the very term used on p 58 - groan! – how come he got caught and went down for a 20 s...more
Dan Schwent
Doc McCoy, Rudy "Piehead" Torrento, and an accomplice rob the Beacon City Bank and immediately begin double crossing each other. Can Doc McCoy and his wife make it to Mexico before Torrento takes them down or the police catch them?

The Getaway it the tale of a bank heist and its aftermath, told in Jim Thompson's bleak style. Actually, it's really light compared to the other four Thompson's I've read up to this point, more akin to Richard Stark's Parker series than The Killer Inside me. Doc McCoy...more
Richard Vialet
4.5 stars. The Getaway begins with what would usually be the middle of most heist stories and is mostly about the aftermath of the crime (hence the title). But the story is not your usual "Bonnie and Clyde"-type thriller. This highly suspenseful yarn is ultimately about the disintegration of this couple's relationship as their journey leads them into some deep shit (literally). The only disappointing thing is the build up of a great character with lots of potential, that ultimately goes nowhere....more
Andy
Aug 20, 2008 Andy rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: great crime sleaze
Shelves: pulp-fiction
More than just a running from the law and the evil criminals, too type-book, but a surreal analogy of how much crap a married couple can endure. And speaking of crap, the capper is when they're reduced to hiding out under a ton of horse manure for hours. Yeah, sometimes marriage feels a lot like that!
As the book develops, husband and wife become increasingly more paranoid and distrustful of each other until they can barely look at each other in the eye. So, forget the Steve McQueen and Alec Bald...more
Mariano Hortal
"Doc McCoy había nacido con la obligación de ser un individuo endiablado: persuasivo, lleno de personalidad, insidioso, agradable, de buen carácter e imperturbable. Uno de los individuos más agradables que uno puede encontrarse", así es el perverso a la vez que encantador personaje de "La huida" del gran escritor de novela negra Jim ...Thompson, que se une a la galería de un escritor que dibuja personalidades diabólicas de una manera magistral. No es Nick Corey (de 1280 almas), ninguno lo puede...more
Jayaprakash Satyamurthy
When 'Doc' McCoy pulls off the bank heist that is supposed to set him up for his retirement, he didn't reckon with the lengths to which bad luck would go to mess up his getaway. Every time you think things couldn't get worse for Doc, a charming, crafty sociopath, and his wife, they do. Until finally things get really nasty in the end. I felt this one wasn't as tightly crafted as The Killer Inside Me, but there are passages of such breathtakingly bleak and beautiful prose and sequences of such st...more
Roy
So close to a four star (or better) book, hamstrung by the final chapter. For most of the book, Thompson crafts a great crime novel that calls to mind the Parker books that Westlake would eventually write. Unfortunately, all of the subtlety and atmosphere that was developed in the early chapters is completely thrown out in the last chapters once the protagonists have reached their goal.
If I could have stopped before the last chapters, it would have been a four star book. The characters are inte...more
Benoit Lelievre
This book would need a more precise star system. It deserves 86 or 88% , so 4.40something stars. It's unlike anything I've ever read before. It's plot-driven to the extreme, the situations are strong, unique and twisted, yet the characters are fleshed out extraordinairily. It's only 180 pages, but it couldn't be any bigger or it would've been too complicated. It's cops n' robbers again, but who cares? Thompson wrote The Getaway in 1959, so everybody else copied him. That's the original and that'...more
Daniel
Wow, Thompson writes some brutal scenes! I've seen the 90s film adaptation, so many of the turns to the plot in the first half were expected; the rest of the book, though, really surprised me. The descent from strategic getaway to desperate and despicable circumstances that Doc and Carol experience is dreadful, while the criminal hideaway Thompson saves for the final chapter reads like a setting for a horror story. This book is twisted, and I have a feeling that it will stay with me for a long w...more
V.
Quite a fractured narrative that jumps around, often overlapping starts and ends which is a little confusing at times. A few jumps in logic i found hard to follow. At one point the wife pretends to break up with the husband in jail so she can convince the judge to let him out early. I have no idea why she had to fake the break up. There's a few of those kinds of odd narrative leaps.

It is a sharp, tough book, with driven characters none of whom are particularly likeable, not even the leads. They...more
Jesse
Jan 01, 2009 Jesse rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: him, us
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Patrick O'Neil
Ok, so even though Sam Peckinpah's 1972 film The Getaway with Steve McQueen and Ali McGraw is said to be based on Jim Thompson's The Getaway other than the title and the character's names that's where the similarity ends. Why do filmmakers do this? What, do they decide the story just doesn’t work for a movie and then rewrite the entire plot? So strange. As usual Thompson is a bit over the top: hiding out in a fake shit pile does seem a tad much. Ok, I get it. Crime doesn't pay.
Michael
I must have read this book at least 20 years ago, and it was the first Thompson book I'd read. It still haunts me. Of course my caveat is that I love basically everything Jim Thompson wrote, but The Getaway stands out in my mind as particularly unnerving. It's dark irony, mercilesss distrust, and macabre claustrophobia turned me inside out and left me stunned, shattered, and deeply in love with an author whose vision is so dark and painful it sometimes unspools into a surreal tangle that knots i...more
William Thomas
3.4 stars for sure. i was confused by the ending, the last 15 pages in el rey, as if this part were written before the rest of the book and made to fit to jibe with the rest. it was a disappointing climax, anti-climatic. however, up until then it was a face paced bare knuckle brawl of a crim novel and jim thompson scored again. even though i felt it was rushed, the themes held true and the violence was startling. only read one jim thompson book i would not recommend and that is the rip-off. stil...more
Bro_Pair أعرف
Terrific - just terrific. Jim Thompson puts Sartre in the shithouse. But pulp novels never get the credit some long-dead French guy's stuff get. But don't mistake it. This is a real existentialist nightmare, and you don't even realize it til the last third of the novel. What Thompson does to you is the same thing Dostoevsky excelled in doing - making you feel physically ill about what happens to imaginary people.
Lucynell
Contrary to what some say there's quite a few movies that are actually better than the book. Sometimes because the book is crap (The Green Mile, The Shining) or because the movie is so damn good (Jaws, Manhunter.) And of course sometimes the book's pretty cool too, it's just that the movie's better, The Exorcist comes to mind. The Getaway is like that. Both adaptations (1972, 1994) I thought were great and the book's not bad either. It's lean and short and mean with any and all sane characters i...more
notgettingenough
Given he falls into genres of which I read a lot, I'm gobsmacked to have discovered Jim Thompson only recently. Why is reading so motivated by fashion? If there is something that should be above fashion, or outside it, why would this not be it?

Of course, it could just be a case of trying to corner the market in rabbits.
Jim
Dark and claustrophobic. Non stop action, and then the world of El Rey and the little village in the hills nearby.
Read thisshort novel, you won't soon forget it.

Of course, I loved that Carol was a librarian.
Zepp
I think it's his best. They made a movie, too. Which was someone's best, I'm sure. Aside from the Wild Bunch.
Julie Tridle
a Good Jim Thompson. At least a couple chapters in there I won't be forgetting anytime soon.
Richard
This is a very brutal and bleak noir story about an accomplished thief, Doc McCoy and his wife Carole on the lam after a bank heist goes sour. Starting off as a likable rogue, we increasingly see Doc do terrible things to a lot of good people. The main characters are slightly sympathetic because they do actually care for and love each other, even as their natures come to light to themselves and each other, perhaps dooming their relationship. The writing is engaging and the characters reek of des...more
Hugh McBride
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Michael
***slightly spoilery***

The Getaway is my third Thompson book and the least satisfying. While The Grifters and The Killer Inside had coherent plots and seemed self-aware of their own sometimes over-the-top hard-boiled edge, The Getaway is a sloppy exercise in episodic, piecemeal violence.

Doc and Carol are bank robbers on the run from a job gone bad, and every scrape leads to dead bodies. It's almost comedic, except I never got the sense I was supposed to laugh. There is one effectivively terrify...more
Scottbowers
Love it.
Gary
The first three-quarters of Jim Thompson's 1958 pulp crime novel cover traditional ground, with the main character, Doc McCoy, fresh out of prison and planning one last bank robbery before taking his wife Carol across the Mexican border to claim sanctuary in the legendary Mexican kingdom of El Rey (as later referenced in Quentin Tarantino's script for From Dusk 'Til Dawn). Things don't, of course, go to plan; the treacherous and chaotic aftermath of the robbery placing strains on Doc and Carol's...more
wally
the getaway, jim thompson, 100 reviews...some 2265 ratings was it?
this is the 4th from thompson for me. kindle.

story begins:
carter "doc" mccoy had left a morning call for six o'clock, and he was reaching for the telephone the moment the night clerk rang. he had always awakened easily and pleasantly; a man with not a regret for the past, and completely confident and self-assured as he faced each new day. twelve years of prison routine had merely molded his natural tendencies into habit.

okee dokee...more
Will Tate
I came across this book whilst browsing the 2nd hand bookstall on Cambridge market a few months ago and parted with £1.50... unfortunately I have to say that this was not money well spent. I had read many of Jim Thompson's other works, particularly enjoying "The Grifters", "A Hell of a Woman" and "After dark, My Sweet" and was hoping that this would be another gem from the noir master but I was very disappointed. It is just a badly-written book. The plotting, which starts off promisingly, with a...more
Pierre Bondil
I love the book, fast, well-written, surprising to the end. I am very happy to have been chosen for the new French translation (this one will be unabridged and as faithfull as possible to the American text).
To do so, I need your help on one specific point.

In the middle of chapter 9, Doc is in the train with the robber he has just killed and Carol. Here comes the conductor. This all has to do with conductors in the 50s in America ! The text goes ("he" being the conductor) :
"He jabbed a train chec...more
Dayna Ingram

I actually really enjoyed this book, despite how plot-heavy it is and how crime fiction usually isn't my thing (that's one of the reasons I am taking this class, after all, to broaden my horizons). The story just kept on moving, and Thompson did a great job weaving psychology and character development into the plot, which did a lot to build tension around fairly typical (for the genre) developments. There's a lot of betrayals and double-crosses going on, but at the heart, this is a story about a...more
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7621
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
More about Jim Thompson...
The Killer Inside Me The Grifters Pop. 1280 After Dark, My Sweet (Crime Masterworks) A Hell of a Woman

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“Then he laughed and she laughed. And quivering with the movement of the train, the dead man seemed to laugh too.” 9 likes
“Flight is many things. Something clean and swift, like a bird skimming across the sky. Or something filthy and crawling; a series of crablike movements through figurative and literal slime, a process of creeping ahead, jumping sideways, running backward.

It is sleeping in fields and river bottoms. It is bellying for miles along an irrigation ditch. It is back roads, spur railroad lines, the tailgate of a wildcat truck, a stolen car and a dead couple in lovers' lane. It is food pilfered from freight cars, garments taken from clotheslines; robbery and murder, sweat and blood. The complex made simple by the alchemy of necessity”
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