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Pop. 1280

4.07  ·  Rating details ·  8,321 ratings  ·  705 reviews
Nick Corey is a terrible sheriff on purpose. He doesn't solve problems, enforce rules or arrest criminals. He knows that nobody in tiny Potts County actually wants to follow the law and he is perfectly content lazing about, eating five meals a day, and sleeping with all the eligible women.

Still, Nick has some very complex problems to deal with. Two local pimps have been sa
Paperback, 231 pages
Published August 5th 2014 by Mulholland Books (first published 1964)
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Average rating 4.07  · 
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mark monday
hee haw! a rambunctious, heartwarming delight! loveable and sweet-tempered Nick Corey, Sheriff of Potts County, has more problems than you can shake a stick at. poor guy! all he wants to do is kick back and hold on to his dippity-doo-da job not-arresting people. that's not too much to ask, is it? but things are always getting him down. pimps, bitches, and in-laws - the works! what's an amiable, peace-loving soul to do? well, happily, Nick's also a Medici-level manipulator, stone-cold killer, and ...more
Algernon (Darth Anyan)
Jun 04, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015

Potts County has a small population, so small that one law enforcement officer is enough to keep the peace around. Keeping the peace is something High Sheriff Nick Corey tries to avoid as much as he can, preferring instead to complain about how little time he has for sleeping and for eating. The town leaders don't seem unduly disturbed by his laisez-faire philosophy, and he usually gets re-elected on his libertarian platform.

"I'll ask you just one question," Robert Lee cut in. "Are you or aren'
Poor Nick Corey. He’s got so many problems with his wife and people who actually expect him to do his job as sheriff of a small town that he can hardly eat more than a few pork chops at dinner or sleep more than 8 or 9 hours a night. But Nick has figured out a way to deal with some of his issues, and if that means shotgunning a few folks, then you can hardly blame the poor man.

The obvious comparison here is to Thompson’s other novel about a small town law man with a serious dark side, The Killer
Paquita Maria Sanchez
Jim Thompson, you sneaky summabitch. I went looking for something specific. You presented yourself like that something I was looking for, and then you changed almost immediately into something else entirely. But that, too, was a trick, because you sure as Shinola changed on me again. A trick within a trick within a trick, this novel is a long con in the best way.

What I was looking for was a noir thriller, a quality crime drama centering on murrrrder, from the smartypants psychos who commit the c
Dan Schwent
Nick Corey is the High Sheriff of Potts County and kind of a simpleton. He doesn't arrest anyone and mostly stays out of trouble, other than affair he's having with another man's wife. Or is his genial nature a cover for something more sinister... ?

Yes. Yes it is. It's a front for the fact that he's a manipulative, cold-blooded killer. He kills two pimps and tricks another sheriff into taking the blame. He launches a smear campaign against another man running for sheriff. He does a handful of ot
Feb 06, 2019 rated it liked it
Don't be mislead by my rating: this was a really strong book that I enjoyed a lot, it just kind of collapsed disappointingly at the end. Definitely worth reading for the prose. I'll be checking out more Thompson.
Sep 19, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015, aere-perennius
“a heck of a lot of things are bound to go wrong in a world as big as this one.


And if there's an answer to why it's that way - and there ain't always - why, it's probably not just one answer by itself, but thousands of answers.”
― Jim Thompson, Pop. 1280

Small towns can be a drag. Especially when you are the High Sheriff. Especially when you are also a psychopath who is just a tad smarter than you let on. You've got these liberal and soft feelings toward minorities and social ills. You want to f
Mike Puma
Jan 07, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: the anything-other-than-Gravity's-Rainbow-crowd
Shelves: 2012

About a year and a half ago, ages ago it now seems, there was a flurry of activity around this title among some GR friends and those I whose reviews I stalk, so I bought it—probably the title in a purchase that entitled me to free shipping. It sat here and sat here, garnering little attention, working its way down the list of those I was anxious to read, and then it happened, the event that would send this to the top of my priority list…I started reading Gravity’s Rainbow , and all of the sudden

May 29, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Some might say that Sheriff Nick Corey does not play well with others.

They would be wrong.

Sheriff Nick Corey plays VERY WELL with others!


No one can deny that his shit-kickin', good ole boy, down-home-hick act endears him to the townsfolk he is sworn to protect. More's the pity there is no one to protect them from him.
Corey schemes and manipulates himself out of any crisis, and he'll do whatever is required to keep his cushy job. But now, he's facing his toughest challenge yet - the upcoming el
Feb 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
EDIT: Another great novel selected as part of the HRF Keating Crime and Mystery: The 100 Best Books list and therefore part of my challenge to read the entire 100. Keating mentions that the novels of Thompson are without good taste and this one has the least taste of all thanks to a hero who kills somebody and kicks the dead body because he'd always wanted to, indepth discussions of bodily functions. But he also praises Thompson for the serious purpose and darker vision of life that lies behind ...more
Pop. 1280 is the title of the book and it refers to the population of Potts County, where Nick Corey is "High Sheriff." It is the 57th largest county out of 57 counties in Texas.
This book is a literary masterpiece that serves as a sardonic attack on small Southern towns in the early twentieth century. Nick Corey is on the surface a good ole boy, a not-so-bright, uneducated Southern hick. He is much more than that when you poke under the surface. His lazy, shiftless ways and his appearance as a g
Nov 07, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: who haven't i recommended this to? :)
Shelves: novels, favourites, noir
some people prefer the killer inside me, jim thompson's earlier take on this story, to pop. 1280, but i am not one of those people. this is my favourite jim thompson novel, by turns and all at once charming, horrifying, funny, and wise. i posted this quote, this flashpoint of the novel for me, really, on myspace many moons ago, where this book was first recommended to me, after i chose the "wrong" jim thompson book as my first jim thompson book. i have it posted it up on my wall, and i read it o ...more
May 30, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Someone recommended this book to me years ago. More than five years ago, in fact. They gushed about it about it to such an extent that I went out and bought several of Thompson's books.

Then they sat on my shelf for the next five years.

I just read this one, and it was every bit as good as my friend implied. It's not my usual genre, almost a bit of a western (but not really). But it's told in first person with such an amazing voice that I really wish I hadn't waited so long.

I'll be getting to t
RJ from the LBC
Apr 05, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Killer Inside Me and Pop. 1280 bookend the most productive and celebrated stretch of author Jim Thompson's career, and both stories feature a small town Texan sheriff who is crafty, manipulative, immoral and even murderous. Whereas The Killer Inside me is a disturbing look inside the mind of a psychopath, Pop 1280 covers much of the same ground but with a much more humorous approach. It's a kick to see the main character entice others to do his dirty work by playing on their basest emotions, ...more
As sheriff in Potts County, Nick Corey's job (as he sees it) is to punish the heck out of people for bein’ people. Oh, and also to gloat over folks in trouble. So, really, none of what happens is Nick's fault. Or, as he would say people who go around sniffing crap with their mouth open, and acting surprised as hell when someone kicks a turd in it.

This is another dark and, at times, funny Jim Thompson tale involving a small town sheriff. I'm not sure that it's better or worse than The Killer Insi
Tom Mathews
May 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who enjoys a good anti-hero.
I've read one other Jim Thompson book, Savage Night, and I was hard-pressed to believe that the same person wrote both. Savage Night didn't really appeal to me but I found Nick Corey, the small-town Texas sheriff in Pop. 1280 to be an absolute Machiavellian delight. Everybody may think he's a lazy, dimwitted good ole boy whose favorite line is "We'll, I'm not saying you're wrong but I'm not saying you're right either." Everybody would be wrong.

I was intrigued to hear that Thompson's father was a
Apr 08, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Pop. 1280 is a pitch black comedy rather than a noir. It is so rip-roaringly funny that it is easy to forget Thompson manages to roast everything from racism to religion. Nick Corey is the hick sheriff of Potts County, a no name town in American hinterlands with a population of 1280 in early twentieth century. (1280 is a debatable number as it includes nigger and they might not have souls. Keep your eyes peeled for that debate.) He pronounces sure as shore, before as a-fore and makes the wall lo ...more
Jan 10, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"I said I meant I was just doing my job, followin' the holy precepts laid down in the Bible. "It's what I'm supposed to do, you know, to punish the heck out of people for bein' people. To coax 'em into revealin' theirselves, an' then kick the crap out of 'em. And it's a god-danged hard job, Rose, honey, and I figure that if I can get a little pleasure in the process of trappin' folks I'm mighty well entitled to it."

This excerpt from Thompson's novel sums up the sheriff who's a soc
Manuel Antão
Feb 01, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013
Lately I've been in the mood for some pulp and noirish movies. Because of that I've just seen the movie "Coup de Torchon" (Clean Slate) by Bertrand Tavernier, which is loosely based on the book Pop.1280 by Jim Thomson. I just had to get my hands on the book. This is pulp fiction at its darkest. The story is dark, cynical and offensive, the last due in part to the time. The abrupt ending puzzles me though but still. There is humor within these pages to lighten up things. I laughed quite a bit at ...more
The Shayne-Train
Jul 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
A great noir/Western mash-up with a main character who constantly keeps you guessing. Is he a long-suffering good-ol'-boy? A master manipulator? A criminal mastermind? A downtrodden coward?

Maybe he's just out-of-his-mind NUTS?

Well, I wouldn't say you were right, but I wouldn't say you were wrong...
Erin the Avid Reader ⚜BFF's with the Cheshire Cat⚜
Terrifying. Brilliant. Hilarious. Thought-provoking. Intelligent. Philosophical. Violent. Adulterous. Breaks the Status Quo. Interesting.

All these words apply to "Pop. 1280", possibly one of the funniest, scariest, most brilliant stories ever written. It is more than just a story about a deranged psychopath that kills on a whim. It's about a man that you'd find normal, if not somewhat of a blowhard and an idiot. However, underneath his outer simpleness and ignorance lies a philosophical, intell
Sep 26, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
High Sheriff Nick Corey acts like a simpleton, he doesn’t arrest anyone, he doesn’t stir the pot, he acts and behaves the exact way everyone wants him to act; well at least the way he thinks he should act. But this kind and gentle nature is just a cover from his sinister attitude. But has this side of Nick always been there, or was this just a result of always acting the way he thinks he should?

The way Nick Corey acts, the lies and manipulating as scary; it’s like Jim Thompson is holding a mirro
aPriL does feral sometimes
Absolutely terrible. I guess this is a satire. Sheriff Nick Corey is a redneck who is a killer and hangs around other sheriffs who call black people the n-word and none of them believe black people have souls or are people. Nick treats women like Kleenex and kills people or tricks people into killing each other - all in good fun, especially since he believes he was placed on Earth to lead folks to do their worst. Everybody on Goodreads loves this book, but it is one of the worst books I have eve ...more
May 31, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: noir, jim-thompson
Nick Corey was one of those characters that is truly fascinating to read about but there is no way in the world you can feel for him, root for him even though you read the story from his POV. His story was chilling,grim. There was some great brutal humor too. He is not some twisted serial killer either that is easy to understand.

Writing ability wise this is the best Jim Thompson i have read, i was impressed word by word,the language, the real characters,the humor,the issues he wrote about. He d
Benoit Lelièvre
I'll be damned. I never expected a noir novel to examine the questions of language and perspective in literature. Chalk it up as another achievement in Jim Thompson's career, I guess, having written a novel that tackles both social, psychological and literary issues. POP. 1280 is both a trademark Jim Thompson nightmare and a tremendous satire of turn-of-the-century American novels that abused vernacular.

I can see your question coming from a mile away, though: Is it just like THE KILLER INSIDE ME
Oct 31, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: thriller
Another very dark book by Jim Thompson, similar in many ways to his earlier novel, The Killer Inside Me. Both are about a small town cops with a serious penchant for killing. In this one, Nick Corey pretends to be a lazy, do-nothing redneck, with a hen-pecking wife, who forces him to marry (good story there.) Meanwhile, he is on the prowl for female companionship, violence, and dropping the blame on others.
May 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: thriller
A fascinating book and compelling read. What makes the most sense to me about the book is that it is a black comedy. Nick Corey, the sheriff protagonist of the book, is similar to Lou Ford, the deputy sheriff in Thompson's "The Killer inside Me." Both men are sociopathic and show signs of serious mental unbalance. But while "Killer" is told in a deadly serious tone, there are levels of ridiculousness in Nick Corey's thinking in "Pop. 1280" that just have to be chuckled at. In addition, there are ...more
Well, I'll be gosh-darned if this ain't the strangest danged book. The first couple of chapters are pretty bad (in an intentional way that only becomes apparent later) and if this hadn't been a Jim Thompson book with a reputation I wouldn't have continued reading. But if you keep reading, before you know it you are trapped in Pop. 1280's insidious world. The narrator, Sheriff Nick Corey, is a misanthropic psychopath with a christ complex, and this is putting it in the simplest terms. He's also a ...more
Trixie Fontaine
There are plenty of people who will tell you why this is a classic and what it's about and why you should read it. So I'll just say a couple of not-so-book-related things:

*This cover art sucks


*I finally can believe that George W. really *IS* smart, and just PLAYS dumb! I totally imagine his mind working exactly like Sheriff Nick Corey's, but more evil. Like when Nick says "radius" and "ulna", it was like if shrub slipped and pronounced "nuclear" correctly.

The only disappointment I had was tha
Mar 03, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My third Jim Thompson book (after The Killer Inside Me and The Grifters) and by far my favourite of the three. Very dark story about local sheriff who at first seems to be a bit of an idiot and a layabout but is revealed as a schemer and a killer as you get into it. Very clever and highly amusing at some points with some brilliant twists in the story. Would have been a 5 star read but for the ending which to me was a bit of a letdown. He really should have given it a better title as well as that ...more
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topics  posts  views  last activity   
The Mystery, Crim...: * April 2020 Group Read (spoiler thread): Pop. 1280 by Jim Thompson 18 53 Aug 15, 2020 08:58AM  
Question on ending of Nick's explanation 1 1 Aug 14, 2020 12:22PM  
The Mystery, Crim...: * April 2020 Group Read: Pop. 1280 by Jim Thompson 12 49 Apr 22, 2020 12:21AM  
Transgressive Fic...: 6 Dark Fiction Reading Recommendations 1 36 Aug 11, 2018 04:43AM  
Questions about the end 3 75 Feb 26, 2016 11:43PM  
Pulp Fiction: June 2015 - Pop. 1280 40 66 Jun 30, 2015 05:29PM  
Hamigos del PH: 1280 almas 17 22 Jan 03, 2014 02:03PM  

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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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