Michael's Reviews > The Killer Inside Me

The Killer Inside Me by Jim Thompson
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's review
Mar 04, 2010

really liked it
Read in March, 2010

** spoiler alert ** The Killer Inside Me is the American Psycho of the 1950's. Even though Thompson isn't overly graphic with his descriptions of murder, the implications he creates with his writing are troubling and, sometimes, downright disturbing. Like American Psycho, The Killer Inside Me is the story of a psychopath who lives a rather normal life in the eyes of his acquaintances. The protagonist, Lou, is a police officer in a small town who has what he describes as "the sickness." This sickness got him in trouble as a youth, but he let his brother take the fall for it. Now, at the age of 29, Lou sees the sickness returning. And about ten pages into the story, we get to see just exactly what the sickness looks like.

Lou is dispatched to a derelict house on the edge of town to evict a known prostitute. Lou ends up killing a prostitute and another man instead of trying to run her out of town. The description of the death isn't long or explicit, but the metaphor used to describe the murder is simply unforgettable. The rest of the story is a step-by-step reenactment of what Lou has to do to cover up his crime. The initial murder leads to the death of many more innocent victims, including his longtime girlfriend and fiancee Amy.

Lou made a mistake, however, and the prostitute he thought he killed at the beginning of the story never died. After a short descent into madness, which results (or does it?) in a stint in a mental institution, he is confronted with the shambling, nearly crippled, body of the prostitute, who has told the local police exactly what Lou did to her earlier. At the end of the story, Lou feels no remorse for his actions and, in fact, laughs inwardly as the police take him into custody.

This all boils down to a story that would have been overwhelmingly dark and depressing were it not for Lou's wit and dark sense of humor. There is something sinister, yet satisfying, in seeing Lou constantly backed into a corner and then verbally sparring his way out, making his interlocutors look feeble in the process.

The Killer Inside Me is interesting and goes in often unexpected directions. I can only imagine the furor that must have surrounded the release of the book back in the 1950's. Even now, some of the descriptions and passages are shocking. In the end, this was a fast read and a well-told, disturbing story, that didn't need to resort to exaggerated gore in order to shock the me.
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Comments (showing 1-4 of 4) (4 new)

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Robert Sounds good... I will have to pick it up. You might consider reading Blackburn. Similar type of book.

Michael Thanks! I am going to try it out. We still need to do our book club.

message 3: by DB (new) - rated it 4 stars

DB Probably need a spoiler tag for this

Michael Thanks. Thought I had tagged it for spoilers. Problem fixed.

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