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The Kill-Off

3.71  ·  Rating details ·  939 Ratings  ·  52 Reviews
Luane Devore's days are numbered. All her neighbors in the declining seaside resort town of Manduwoc want her dead. Some, like her young husband Ralph and his girlfriend Danny, want the thousands of dollars she keeps hidden under the mattress she spends her days resting on. Others want her to stop her malicious gossip--some of which could ruin lives.

Told from multiple pers
Paperback, 224 pages
Published June 1st 1999 by Vintage (first published 1957)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Carla Remy
I was reading the first couple pages, thinking, "this feels like his Pop. 1280," when I read, on the third or fourth page, "According to the last census, the population was 1,280." The two novels are not connected, and The Kill-Off is from 1957 but Pop.1280 is from 1964. Maybe if I read the very long Jim Thompson biography I'll understand the significance of this. But, overall, I didn't think this experiment in multiple perspectives was that great.
Eve Kay
Apr 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I backed toward the door. I thought, Oh, how I hate you! HOW I HATE YOU! I hate you so much that - that - ! I hate you, hate you, hate you! -- It didn't occur to me until later that I must have said what I was thinking. That I'd actually yelled it at him.

I've just found my new favourite Thompson noir. Reading this story got better and better all the time. The story is constructed and built up beautifully. There is a continuous red line through it AND side stories to get you confused. Hey, I wa
Jun 24, 2017 rated it did not like it
The most convoluted, drifting, unidentifiable, plot absent book I've ever read. Quite possibly the product of a too frequent indulgence in illicit pharmaceuticals. Brutal
Jul 05, 2014 rated it liked it
THE KILL-OFF. (1957). Jim Thompson. ***.
I keep bumping into books by Thompson that I haven’t read, so it’s time to get organized and make a clean sweep. This title was new to me. Aside from the premises of the plot, it’s not among Thompson’s best work. It is set in the small town of Manduwoc (with the improbable population of 1,280). You are reminded of “Our Town” with sinister overtones. We meet Luane Devore. Luane is about sixty-years old and has been secreting herself in her bedroom for quite
Ismael Galvan
Aug 23, 2012 rated it really liked it
The first few pages really turned me off. It's written in the very old style as if you're reading someone's journal. But it's Jim Thompson, one of my favorites, so I grudgingly stuck with it. I was further deterred because it's a story told from multiple perspectives. "What the fuck is this, goddamn Clue?" I said to myself.

But I ended up getting hooked by Jim's ability to change into different characters with genuine authenticity. It was like watching someone do magic tricks. Each chapter takes
Mariano Hortal
Publicado en

Descubrí a Jim Thompson a lo grande, con su obra maestra inapelable “1280 almas” donde su terrorífico y aparentemente bobalicón sheriff Nick Corey me hizo descubrir el mal sin fisuras; el mal más allá de toda comprensión asociado a la naturaleza humana. Esa obra maestra imperecedera me recuerda una y otra vez que hay pocas experiencias como leer cualquier obra del genial autor norteamericano.
De hecho, cada vez que leo una obra suya, el nivel s
Nov 20, 2012 rated it really liked it
By sheer coincidence, today's Merriam-Webster "Word of the Day" (2/15/08) is whodunit ("a detective story or mystery story"). Coincidence, because just yesterday I finished reading Jim Thompson's The Kill-Off, from 1957. Thompson's novels rarely, if ever, traffic in "who done it" - instead, many of his protagonists are psychopathic killers who leave behind multiple victims in their remorseless wakes. There is little doubt over who the murderer is. And when the protagonist isn't a cold-blooded mu ...more
Oct 16, 2013 rated it really liked it
I'll admit it; as a whodunnit, this is a mediocre affair. I didn't guess who the killer was, as I usually do, because it just kind of comes out of nowhere, plot-wise.

But as a snap shot of small-town life, and a glimpse at the interior lives of the apparently small-town/small-lives people who live there, this is Thompson at his best. Unlike so many popular books with alternating character narrations where every character has the exact same voice so that the reader is constantly flipping back to
Jun 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The One. The man.
«Noche salvaje » ya comenzaba en clave de género negro, pronto derivaba a lo kafkiano y terminaba a lo Carretera Perdida de Lynch. Aquí Thompson vuelve a escribir, con la excusa o la etiqueta del noir, lo que da la gana. 12 capítulos para 12 puntos de vista de 12 personajes, a cual más cafre y solitario. Si lo firmara Carrión y lo publicara Galaxia, los blogs y los suplementos se pasarían el año hablando de «El exterminio».
Nov 08, 2008 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: soap opera fans
Shelves: pulp-fiction
Thompson puts the pulp-crime hatchet away and writes a "Peyton Place" style soap opera about a rich gossip who crushes her neighbors in the safety of her sick bed. Everybody harbors plans to snuff her, but who carries it out? Is it the slutty big band singer, the kept gigolo handyman husband, is it the junk-sick teenage girl or the half-caste Juvenile Delinquent? Very sordid goings on in this book. A decent time waster.
Caspar Vega
Scattered bits; the mulatto character was fascinating.
Judy Abbott
Kokuşuk bir polisiye. Ama hikâyenin kasabadaki herkesin gözünden ayrı ayrı anlatılması hoştu.
Jun 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: jim-thompson
Another dark, disturbing tale from the Duke of American noir fiction. Thompson can spin a tale like few others ever. Just be prepared for characters who are dark, nasty, disturbed, and just plain mean. Centering his story around a housebound hypochondriac recluse who delights in spreading malicious gossip, Thompson introduces a world of small resort town characters who literally hate her. Luanne Devore "had a positively fiendish talent for tossing the knife, for plunging it into exactly the righ ...more
Jul 18, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime-mystery
Αυτό είναι το έκτο βιβλίο του Τζιμ Τόμσον που διαβάζω. Σαν ιστορία μου φάνηκε αρκετά διαφορετική από τις άλλες ιστορίες του Τόμσον, περισσότερο σαν "σκληρή" σαπουνόπερα μου έκανε παρά σαν μια από αυτές τις κλασικές αστυνομικές ιστορίες που ξέρει να γράφει καλά. Αυτό διόλου δεν με πείραξε, μου αρέσει πολύ η γραφή του Τόμσον και η ανάπτυξη των χαρακτήρων του, που και μια απλή ερωτική ιστορία να είχε γράψει πάλι ενδιαφέρον θα είχε.

Τοπίο δράσης είναι μια μικρή παραλιακή κωμόπολη που από άποψη προσέ
Raro de Concurso
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sep 27, 2014 rated it really liked it
Thompson is in experimental mode, giving us a rather post-modern novel that unwinds backwards and in which each chapter is told from the perspective of a different character, each of whom is a suspect in the murder. His command of voice and usual themes and tones are present--though with far less overt violence than many of his books--but the novel is a bit of a mixed bag. It doesn't really succeed as something well plotted, and it gives us a very unsatisfying ending that suggests that a charact ...more
Jul 15, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not my favorite Thompson. In his best novels, he creates one or two fatally flawed but still empathetic anti-heroes and lets us enjoy their inevitable downfall(s). In this novel, he switches narrators every twenty pages or so to tell the story of a tawdry murder in a seedy resort town. There is more virtuosity that virtue to this approach. The murder itself is interesting -- the victim is a gossipy, vindictive old bat with so many enemies the suspect list is impossible to narrow down -- and all ...more
Bob Mackey
Jan 01, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One of Thompson's lesser-known novels, The Kill-Off takes an approach completely alien to the writer's usual output: each of its twelve chapters is written from the perspective of a different resident of its sleazy setting. While a murder serves as the central focus of the narrative, The Kill-Off is more concerned with character studies than providing a compelling mystery. Because of this focus, Thompson can't quite stick the landing; with the story jumping from character to character, certain e ...more
Nik Morton
Dec 09, 2010 rated it really liked it
This book is a bravura effort: twelve chapters, each in the first person by a different character from a backwater New England town, Manduwoc. There’s Kossmeyer, the lawyer; Ralph Devore, downtrodden husband of Luana, seeks solace with Danny Lee, the singer; Rags McGuire, the washed up jazz musician employing Danny; Bobbie, wayward son of Doc James Ashton; Hattie, the Negro maid and lover of the doctor and mother of Bobbie; Goofy Gannder, the drunk and incompetent; Henry Clay Williams, county at ...more
Nov 25, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sin duda en El exterminio os encontrareis un Thompson diferente, pero que conserva toda su esencia, no tengáis miedo, es una novela que está a la altura del resto de su universo, cínica, social, con personajes desangelados, con personajes más extremos, con esa facilidad de crearnos una opinión sobre sus personajes en ocasión equivocada, engañosa, falsa…

Sep 15, 2011 rated it really liked it
Thompson! again a fabulous book. a story with switching perspectives and voices as each character takes their turn telling the story. the story isn't a mystery about who did it- but who will as everyone seems to have a motive. Curiously enough one character the first you meet is 5 feet tall just like Carl Bigelow from "Savage Night" what is with Thompson and 5 foot men?
it is a oft times funny and great absorbing title again. everyone read this and his other works you won't be disappointed.
Cullen Gallagher
Jul 30, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
Small-town paranoia; the flames of hell transposed to the chills of a coastal New England town; a silent veneer of mutual guilt and complicity in immorality and desperation: the characters in The Kill-Off are the masterminds of their own downfall. Incest, drug abuse, family lies, betrayals, failed romances, spiteful marriages, lost opportunities: these are the only blessings to be found in Thompson's world, save for the ultimate gift they are all quietly waiting for: their own death.
Oct 29, 2009 rated it really liked it
Though probably not Mr. Thompson's most entertaining novel, it's one of his most intriguing I've read to date. He uses multi-viewpoints to sketch in the different characters at a decrepit New Jersey beach resort. Each character gets to speak in a chapter. There's a murder mystery in the banal small town. Mr. Thompson's conversational tone goes well with this sort of a tale. A movie has been made from the book.
by Ax
Aug 08, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: noir
12 motivazioni personali

12 personaggi di provincia in cerca di motivazioni, o di alibi, o di riscatto, o di, be', fate voi. Tutti sapientemente tratteggiati nelle loro virtù di piccoli perdenti, chi più chi meno, a barcamenarsi tra slanci di follia e consolatorie illusioni, e un occhio rivolto all'omicidio.
Solo uno di essi sarà colpevole... forse tutti, forse nessuno.
Feb 25, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I found a huge stack of Jim Thompson's crime noir novels at my favorite used bookstore and I grabbed a handful. In Thompson's world women are dangerous, everyone has a secret agenda, and somebody is going to die. I equate these to literary crack, after you get into to one of Jim Thompson's books it is hard to stop until you are finished.
Bruce Black
Jan 08, 2012 rated it liked it
More a literary exercise; an experiment in story telling, and worth a look for that aspect, if you're a fan of Thompson. But it's no The Getaway. For me, someone who looses track of characters, it was especially difficult, and I didn't catch on right away what was going on, so the ending was a bit anti-climatic. I admire the effort.
Jan 28, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: hardboiled-crime
Remember that left turn toward crazy that Thompson took in "Savage Night?" Well, he puts a brick on the gas pedal and doesn't slow down till he hits the town square. And yet it is all so plausible...I cried for the abused, the misunderstood and the hopeless who live in the dark town of Thompson's creation.
Liam Green
Not peak Thompson by any means. Fun, though, and stylistically bold - like many of his books - for 1950s noir. Structuring the narrative in an AS I LAY DYING style is a good technique to adapt to noir; the only issue is that not all the characters are equally interesting and you only get one chapter of each.
Nov 19, 2008 rated it really liked it
I am reading a collection of Thompson's more well known novels titled, HARDCORE. Having only read THE KILLER INSIDE ME, I was still unaware of Thompson's overall style but prepared for the inevitable abhorrent violence and unlikable characters. This novel is completely different, and the multiple narrator approach is incredible. Read Jim Thompson.
Mar 28, 2012 rated it liked it
As with every Thompson book I've read so far, I find myself really engaged, right up until the end. It just seems like we have very different ideas of how the last act should go. Still, an entertaining read, if not quite my cup of tea.
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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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