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The Killer Inside Me

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Everyone in the small town of Central City, Texas loves Lou Ford. A deputy sheriff, Lou's known to the small-time criminals, the real-estate entrepreneurs, and all of his coworkers--the low-lifes, the big-timers, and everyone in-between--as the nicest guy around. He may not be the brightest or the most interesting man in town, but nevertheless, he's the kind of officer you're happy to have keeping your streets safe. The sort of man you might even wish your daughter would end up with someday.

But behind the platitudes and glad-handing lurks a monster the likes of which few have seen. An urge that has already claimed multiple lives, and cost Lou his brother Mike, a self-sacrificing construction worker who fell to his death on the job in what was anything but an accident. A murder that Lou is determined to avenge--and if innocent people have to die in the process, well, that's perfectly all right with him.

In The Killer Inside Me, Thompson goes where few novelists have dared to go, giving us a pitch-black glimpse into the mind of the American Serial Killer years before Charles Manson, John Wayne Gacy, and Brett Easton Ellis's American Psycho, in the novel that will forever be known as the master performance of one of the greatest crime novelists of all time.

244 pages, Paperback

First published March 13, 1952

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About the author

Jim Thompson

180 books1,446 followers
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 late-1940s through mid-1950s. Despite some positive critical notice, notably by Anthony Boucher in the New York Times, he was little-recognized in his lifetime. Only after death did Thompson's literary stature grow, when in the late 1980s, several novels were re-published in the Black Lizard series of re-discovered crime fiction.

Thompson's writing culminated in a few of his best-regarded works: The Killer Inside Me, Savage Night, A Hell of a Woman and Pop. 1280. In these works, Thompson turned the derided pulp genre into literature and art, featuring unreliable narrators, odd structure, and surrealism.

The writer R.V. Cassills has suggested that of all pulp fiction, Thompson's was the rawest and most harrowing; that neither Dashiell Hammett nor Raymond Chandler nor even Horace McCoy, author of the bleak They Shoot Horses, Don't They?, ever "wrote a book within miles of Thompson". Similarly, in the introduction to Now and on Earth, Stephen King says he most admires Thompson's work because "The guy was over the top. The guy was absolutely over the top. Big Jim didn't know the meaning of the word stop. There are three brave lets inherent in the forgoing: he let himself see everything, he let himself write it down, then he let himself publish it."

Thompson admired Fyodor Dostoevsky and was nicknamed "Dimestore Dostoevsky" by writer Geoffrey O'Brien. Film director Stephen Frears, who directed an adaptation of Thompson's The Grifters as 1990's The Grifters, also identified elements of Greek tragedy in his themes.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,638 reviews
Profile Image for Patrick.
Author 60 books231k followers
October 25, 2015
This book was recommended to me by someone who worked in the publishing industry, what's more, they liked my book, so I was pretty sure they had excellent taste. I bought it almost immediately, and was excited to give it a try.

That was almost exactly nine years ago. (This might give you a dim glimmer as to what my to-read shelf is like.)

A couple days ago, I was in-between books and looking over my shelves for something I could read before going to bed. I didn't want to start up another Pratchett novel because I was hoping to to bed early. And starting a book that I love is going to cost me sleep.

So I pulled this off the shelf instead. Big mistake.

Six hours later I finished it, and I've been dealing with the after-effects of too little sleep ever since.

I'm not going to describe the book to you. It's something you really need to experience on your own. But I will say this.

It was written in 1952. And I found myself thinking, "Wow. I didn't know folks were writing dark shit like this back then." Then I realized what a dumb thought that was.

I think its genre is "Crime Fiction" but again, that was fifty years ago. I don't know where it would be placed these days. Psychological thriller?

It's one of the best uses of first-person narration I've ever seen.

I found it incredibly emotionally engaging. Even slightly distressing. But at no point was it gruesome or gratuitous.

If you enjoy shows like Dexter. I'd say this book should be an absolute read for you. But honestly, I'd recommend this to anyone who appreciates good writing.

Dealbreakers: If you've got an issue with violence, this isn't the book for you.

But again, I'd like to stress that there isn't a lot of it in here. Game of Thrones has vastly more and it's vastly more graphic. This book just has a bit, but as I've said, it's just… intense, it's not slashery at all.

Really amazingly good book. I'll absolutely be digging up more by this author.
Profile Image for Shelby *trains flying monkeys*.
1,573 reviews5,899 followers
February 11, 2015
Stephen King said about novelist Jim Thompson: “He was crazy. He went running into the American subconscious with a blowtorch in one hand and a pistol in the other, screaming his goddamn head off. No one else came close.”

I thought I would love this book, and I did somewhat. I feel kinda dirty after reading it though. Deputy Sheriff Lou Ford is well..he is a fucker. He hides in plain sight. That calm deputy that draws no attention to himself, but deep inside his monster's lurk.

Told from the first person this story draws you in and spits you out at the end. It's not a long book, I finished it in just a few hours. That's honestly about all I could take, any longer and I would have screamed for mercy.
Lou likes smacking around and spanking his women. (I hated him immensely at that point) then you find out some of his history and kinda feel sorry for him.
Then the monster rears his ugly head again and you want a shower and mind bleach because you felt sorrow for this F@#CKER!!!!!!
I'm a pretty jaded reader. I can't even begin to imagine if I had read this book when it first came out. Things like this just didn't exist then. It was way before it's time. I'm giving it four stars even though I want to give it a one star for just..for just damn being in my head now.

I'm gonna go hug my dog ..Just because.
Profile Image for Orsodimondo.
2,149 reviews1,683 followers
April 26, 2020

Jim Thompson con Sterling Hayden sul set di “The Killing” di Stanley Kubrick. Per questo magnifico film Thompson scrisse i dialoghi

Kubrick definì questo romanzo:
The most chilling and believable first-person story of a criminally warped mind I have ever encountered.
Credo che Kubrick di menti deformate e criminali, e criminali dalla mente deformata, se ne intendesse un pochino.
Con Thompson, Kubrick scrisse uno dei suoi primi capolavori, Paths of Glory - Orizzonti di gloria, dove il male esiste, il male c’è, proprio come nelle opere di Thompson.

Kirk Douglas in “Paths of Glory – Orizzonti di gloria”, il capolavoro di Stanley Kubrick sulla Grande Guerra. Douglas è interprete protagonista e produttore.1957.

Jim Thompson è sinonimo di noir da quando nel 1952 uscì questo libro, la sua opera più fortunata.
Questo romanzo è una pura meraviglia, come lo sono tutti quelli di Thompson.
Ma, questo va oltre.
Anche se, come gli altri, racconta di uomini malvagi che fanno cose cattive. Cattiveria e ironia vanno a braccetto in Thompson, che conia il black humour all'americana, molto diverso da quello made in England.

Lou Ford è uno sceriffo rispettato e stimato, un bravo cittadino, magari perfino un po’ tonto, oppure è un killer sociopatico che non riconosce regole e leggi?

Philippe Noiret e Isabelle Huppert in “Coup de torchon – Colpo di spugna” di Bertrand Tavernier, 1981, adattamento di “Pop. 1280” di Jim Thompson.

La risposta è proprio nel punto di vista che il romanzo assume, la voce narrante dello stesso Lou Ford, che sa di essere quello che è, ma sa anche nasconderlo bene – fino a che la vera natura dello sceriffo prende il sopravvento.
Una voce narrante che non ruba spazio, che non spreca parole, ma incalza, porta avanti l’azione senza perdere tempo, creando e rafforzando la tensione, l’attesa, il mistero, il thriller.

Non è la storia in sé che conta, ma come nella grande letteratura, è lo stile che fa la differenza, che porta The Killer Inside Me a trascendere il genere, e andare oltre.

Anjelica Huston, John Cusack, Annette Bening in “The Grifters-Rischiose abitudini” di Stephen Frears. 1990

Thompson dice che la malerba è solo una pianta cresciuta nel posto sbagliato: un cespuglio di malvone in un campo di grano è malerba, ma piantata nel giardino di casa diventa ornamentale.
Se Lou Ford fosse cresciuto altrove, o non avesse fatto lo sceriffo, sarebbe potuto essere diverso?

Come si fa a non immedesimarsi negli antieroi di Thompson, ladri o assassini che siano?! Specie se si è amato Delitti esemplari di Max Aub, i protagonisti di Thompson sono tutti noi, sono quello che nel profondo noi vorremmo essere e fare.

Steve McQueen, magnifico come sempre, in “Getaway!” di Sam Peckinpah, magnifico come sempre. 1972.

Molto saccheggiato dal cinema, Jim Thompson: solo per citare qualche esempio, tralasciando i due presi da questo stesso titolo, che non ritengo indimenticabili, citerei invece il memorabile Steve "voglio-una-vita-spericolata" McQueen nel primo Getaway, insieme ad Ali McGraw (molto meno memorabile il remake con la coppia Alec Baldwin – Kim Basinger); eccezionale Annette Benning in The Grifters - Rischiose abitudini , insieme ad Anjelica Huston e John Cusack; grandissimi Philippe Noiret e Isabelle Huppert, circondati da un ottimo cast tutto francese, nel film di Tavernier Coup de Torchon – Colpo di spugna da Pop. 1280; sempre per restare in Francia, Série noire - Il fascino del delitto con il compianto Patrick Dewaere.

”Série noire - Il fascino del delitto” di Alain Corneau, 1979. Con Patrick Dewaere, Marie Trintignant, Bernard Blier.
Profile Image for Dan Schwent.
2,919 reviews10.6k followers
September 16, 2010
Ever meet someone at a party and think they're pretty cool until they let something slip and you realize they may in fact be bat-shit psycho? That's how Lou Ford, the protagonist of The Killer Inside Me is. I also suspect that Jim Thompson may have been that way as well.

The Killer Inside Me is the story of Lou Ford, a small town sheriff who's a little slow and a little boring. Or he would have you believe. Lou Ford spends most of his time keeping the sickness inside him in check. Lou's a sociopath and has killed multiple times in the past. Lou tries to get even with a man he suspects killed his brother and gets himself ensnared in a criminal investigation. Can he murder his way out of it?

The story itself is pretty simple. Ford tries to set something up to sully the good name of the Conway family and chaos ensues. What makes it work is Jim Thompson's writing. Just like in Population 1280, Jim Thompson uses an unreliable narrator and plays it to the hilt. The writing is bleak, powerful, and unsettling. Like I said earlier, Thompson writes sociopaths a little too well for comfort. Sometimes you wish you could warn the characters that Lou Ford is a runaway train and they're standing on the track.

From beginning to end, this was one of the more disturbing books I've ever read. If you like noir, it doesn't get much noir-er then this.

"You've got forever; and it's a mile wide and an inch deep and full of alligators."
Profile Image for Trudi.
615 reviews1,413 followers
January 21, 2015

First of all, a warning: if you happen to pick up the edition I did that includes an introductory essay from Stephen King, make sure you read it after you finish the book. Goddamn it, either the entire principal of *spoiler* completely flies over this man's head, or he just loves being a bastard about these things. After 2014's Twitter controversy where he spoiled a major death for fans of HBO's Game of Thrones series, I'm pretty certain it's the latter.

It's not that he doesn't get it -- he just doesn't care!!!

And he does it here too, spoiling a MAJOR scene from Thompson's classic noir novel. Thanks a lot, Uncle Stevie!!! I don't care that the book was published in 1952 -- it's not the same as revealing the Titanic hits an iceberg and sinks or that Janet Leigh gets stabbed in the shower in Psycho! And it's especially not the same as revealing that Romeo and Juliet die in Act 5. Now you're just being an asshole, asshole!

Anyway, all wrath and chagrin aside, Uncle Stevie gives great introduction (heh) and this essay is particularly inspired dealing as it does with Jim Thompson, his mark on dark literature, and the enduring legacy of his psychopathic, unassuming small town Deputy Sheriff, Lou Ford.

Told in the first-person, The Killer Inside Me is as close as you're ever going to want to get to the inner thoughts and irrepressible urges of a psycho killer. The most chilling part? On the outside, Lou Ford is a regular, down home good ol' boy, with charm and even some wit. But underneath his methodically constructed facade lurks a steel-trap mind and inexplicable violent compulsions. First published in 1952, I can only imagine the impact this book would have had on its original audience. Even to this jaded 21st century reader The Killer Inside Me still holds within its ruthless prose the power to shock and unsettle.

And despite Ford's obvious dark passenger -- his "sickness" -- you still find yourself rooting for the guy (that is when you're not screaming at characters to run for their fucking lives far, far away from the crazy man). It made me consider who I'd take my chances with in a locked room -- Lou Ford or Annie Wilkes? ::shudder:: There's a Sophie's Choice I'm glad I never have to make.

Without Jim Thompson -- and especially without Lou Ford -- I can only believe 'country noir' would not be what it is today. Donald Ray Pollock, Frank Bill, Daniel Woodrell, Ron Rash all owe a debt to Thompson. And as readers, so do we.
Profile Image for KamRun .
376 reviews1,415 followers
March 3, 2019
حاوی متن آزاردهنده
امی گفت بعضی وقت‌ها فکر می‌کنم که هنوز من و تو آماده‌ی ازدواج نیستیم لو. گفتم: دیگه چیزی نگو امی... فقط هیچی نگو. لبخند به‌لب در حالی که بازوانش را برای به آغوش کشیدن من باز کرده بود بطرفم آمد و گفت: باشه چیزی نمی‌گم عزیز دلم. فقط می‌خواستم بگم که چقدر دوستِت... حرفش رو قطع کردم: می‌دونم، مطمئنم که قلب می‌خواد از سینه بیرون بیاد برای من و بعد با تمام قوا مشت محکمی به شکمش زدم. مشتم آنقدر محکم بود که فرو رفت توی ستون فقراتش. با لگد پری��م روی کمرش، خب بایدم می‌پریدم و بعد کمرش دولا شد، انگار که لولا داشته باشه و شکست. لباسش را جر دادم و انداختم روی صورتش تا نبینمش. تقلا می‌کرد و صدایی شبیه خنده از خودش درمی‌آورد. همین موقع بود که دیدم از ترس ادرارش از زیرش راه گرفت کف زمین. من هم نشستم گوشه‌ای و سعی کردم روزنامه بخونم. اما نور اصلا خوب نبود

لو فورد، آنتاگونیست داستانِ "قاتل درون من" یک افسر پلیس است که زندگی موجه خود را دارد: خانواده‌ای برجسته (روزگاری پدرش تنها پزشک شهر بوده)، شغلی آبرومند (پلیس محلی) و نامزدی عفیف! از این رو مخاطبی که پیش‌تر در مورد داستان چیزی نشنیده و یا اقتباس سینمایی آن را ندیده، هنگامی که لو اولین مشت را به صورت زیبای جویس - زنی که لو را عاشقانه دوست دارد - می‌کوبد، شوکه می‌شود. هدف لو، صحنه‌سازی برای یک قتل و صاف کردن خرده‌حساب با فردی دیگر است و جویس در این میان تنها دکور این صحنه است، نه چیزی بیشتر. اما اتفاقات مطابق میل لو پیش نمی‌رود و مجبور می‌شود برای راست و ریست کردن امور، دست به قتل‌های دیگری بزند...

بین تمام شخصیت‌های سایکوپتی که تا امروز - چه در فیلم‌ها و چه در داستان‌ها - شناختم، لو فورد، پلیس-قاتل شیزوفرنیک این کتاب از همه منفور‌تر و حال‌بهم‌زن‌تر بوده. تازه داشت (بواسطه یکی از کتاب‌ها) کمی از غلظت اندیشه سیاه هابز در مورد سرشت انسان کاسته می‌شد که این کتاب دوباره من رو با توانایی انسان در ارتکاپ پلیدی و جنایت مواجه کرد. استنلی کوبریک این کتاب را بواسطه زاویه دید منحصر به فردش (اول شخص: ذهن قاتل) یکی از ترسناک‌ترین آثار ژانر سایکو طبقه‌بندی کرده ( ترسناک نه، ولی آزاردهنده چرا. من که تهوع گرفتم!). در بخش‌هایی از کتاب آرزو کردم کاش دکستر مورگن با یک کراس‌اُور جادویی به داخل داستان میامد و حساب لو را - همچون گوشت روی میز قصاب - به نحوی که لایقش بود، می‌رسید

پی‌نوشت: اول اینکه- در سال 2010 با اقتباس از این داستان، فیلمی با همین نام روی پرده سینماها رفته (با بازی کیسی افلک در نقش لوفورد). فیلم را هم دیدم، نسبت به کتاب معمولی بود و البته در پایان نسبت به کتاب کمی تفاوت داشت و البته ضعیف‌تر هم بود. دوم اینکه - با توجه به انحرافات جنسی قاتل و فلاش‌بک‌های متعدد در این خصوص و همینطور علاقه قاتل به رابطه جنسی خشن (بخصوص اسپنک کردن!) مترجم و انتشارات کار سختی را جهت اخذ مجوز و در عین حال وفادار بودن به متن پیش رو داشتند که قابل درک هست. مترجم در جاهایی که ملزم بوده، به جای سانسور کل واقعه یا متن، جمله را به صورت مبهم و با سانسور کلمه‌ای ترجمه کرده تا حداقل خیلی به بدنه داستان آسیب نزنه، که تا حدی در این امر موفق بوده
Profile Image for Kemper.
1,390 reviews6,812 followers
March 15, 2016
Jim Thompson must have had noir in his veins instead of red blood cells. This dark first-person story has the reader inhabiting the mind of a killer in way that most authors can't even come close to matching. It's disturbing, chilling and one of the best pieces of crime fiction I’ve ever read.

Lou Ford is a small-town sheriff’s deputy in West Texas. He appears to be just a good natured, not-to-bright, good-ole-boy who usually speaks in a series of clichés to the point of annoying or boring whoever he’s talking to. But Lou’s persona is all a mask to hide his true self and to keep what he thinks of as ‘his sickness’ in check.

When Lou is dispatched to give a warning to a call-girl named Joyce, it escalates into a confrontation that unleashes Lou’s sadistic side, and he’s shocked to discover that Joyce is a willing partner. Letting his darker impulses out of the box soon leads Lou to more violence, and then a lengthy cat-and-mouse game with the local power structure as he covers up his crimes with a mixture of his dimwitted persona and even more bloodshed.

Reading this is a really odd experience. At times, you find yourself rooting for Lou to get away with everything he’s done, but at other times you want to scream at the other characters, “Run! He’s freaking crazier than a shithouse rat! Get out of there before he murders you all!”

And I was both horrified and amused at the malicious joy that Lou takes in ‘needling’ people under the guise of playing the fool that can’t stop running his mouth. He’s got a knack for annoying and insulting people while he pretends he doesn’t realize what he’s doing. That’s just one of the many ways that evil Lou has of getting under your skin.
Profile Image for Zain.
1,370 reviews140 followers
June 15, 2022
Psyched Out!

In a small Texas town, you know, the kind that reminds you of Mayberry, Lou Ford is the nicest Sherrif around.

Dismally, he is afflicted with catastrophic luck. Everyone he knows and love seems to get brutally murdered!

Since he is the town’s sheriff this has gotta be a kismeted fluke. I mean, who’s got anything personal against him?

Surprisingly, Sheriff Ford doesn’t appear too distressed about these amazing coincidences.

Wonder how his investigation is going?
Profile Image for Stephen.
1,516 reviews11k followers
June 10, 2011


5.0 stars. A “one of a kind” reading experience that I can not recommend more highly for fans of noir crime fiction or psychological thrillers. Told in the first person by Lou Ford, who to all outward appearances is a thoughtful, considerate (if somewhat slow) Deputy Sheriff of Capital City, Texas, population 50,000. Lou never gets mad, doesn’t even carry a gun and seems to be the ideal law enforcement officer given his even keel and ability to handle almost any situation.

Well don’t get too comfortable because there has never been a better example of the old adage, “looks can be deceiving.” Inside Lou is a cold, calculating killer with absolutely ZERO empathy for the people around him who he sees as simpletons and worthless. In fact, Lou’s practiced “down home” manner and slow way of talking is part of the “GAME” he plays with people so that they will never know who he really is. This man will make your skin crawl right off your body.

I don’t want to spoiler plot details so I will just mention a few things about Jim Thompson’s writing which I thought was PERFECT PERSONIFIED. The author, through his disturbed protagonist, takes us along on the killer’s journey, seeing everything through the lens of his warped worldview and so we are not seeing a view of his actions as wrong but as he sees them (i.e., the completely justified actions of a deranged mind). It is a unique experience to say the least.

The deftness and nuance of the writing was amazing. Throughout the story, we are given subtle clues and snippets of information that explain to the reader that Lou has had “the sickness” as he calls it since he was 15 years old, when he brutally attacked and killed a little girl. The two things I found most chilling about the story were (1) the complete lack of emotion on the part of Lou as he describes truly despicable acts as if they simply had to be done and (2) his outwardly pleasant demeanor and interaction with the residents in the town while we are aware of how he despises the world around him.

It reminded me a little of Michael Rooker’s excellent performance in the truly disturbing movie, “Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer”, though Jim Thompson’s writing is much more subtle and nuanced. However, both that film and this book did a great job of creating a constant and ever present sense of “dread” in which the audience is aware that even though everything seems normal, it really isn’t and are left waiting for something to go horribly, horribly wrong.

This book will crawl inside you and make you feel like........

Brilliantly written and deftly plotted, this is certainly worthy of the praise Stanley Kubrick gave it when he said, “Probably the most chilling and believable first-person story of a criminally warped mind I have ever encountered.”


Profile Image for Emily May.
1,962 reviews293k followers
December 9, 2017
I went into this with high expectations. I mean, who doesn't love a good psychopath? Especially one with a boat-load of issues who is in a position of authority and trust. Enter Lou Ford, small town sheriff and all-round good guy... or so his sweet and slightly slow disposition would have you think. But Lou has the sickness. Most of the time he manages to keep it hidden beneath a cheery and easy-going attitude, most of the time you would assume he is just your average Joe. Until every once in a while his temper rises and he becomes possessed with an uncontrollable rage... and the killer inside him comes out.

Fabulous. Except for the part where I was rather disappointed. The Killer Inside Me isn't a bad book, it was just nowhere near as good as I thought it was going to be. Lou Ford did not creep me out in the way he was supposed to, he didn't creep me out in the way Stephen King and Stanley Kubrick claim to have been creeped out by him. Dolores Umbridge is creepier than Lou.
Profile Image for Panagiotis.
297 reviews110 followers
December 31, 2019
Ο Τόμσον είναι μια από αυτές τις όμορφες περιπτώσεις της λογοτεχνίας. Από όσο έχω καταλάβει, το έργο του τοποθετείται στην λογοτεχνία του αστυνομικού, με τάσεις να το τραβάνε προς το νουάρ. Ίσως έχει να κάνει με το έγκλημα ως βασικό στοιχείο των ιστοριών του, την παραβατικότητα σαν μοτίβο και, σίγουρα, τους σκληρούς ήρωές του. Μάλιστα, στην εποχή του εκδιδόταν μαζί με άλλους συγκαιρινούς του, σε σειρές της "σειράς".

Αν είναι δυνατόν! Ο τύπος με το προηγούμενο βιβλίο του μου χάρισε τις πιο απολαυστικές αναγνωστικές μου εμπειρίες του τελευταίου χρόνου. Ακόμα κι αν μιλάει για ματσό καταστάσεις, για Αμερικάνικη βλαχο-επαρχεία και αιματοβαμμένες περιστάσεις, έχει μια εξαιρετική πένα: οι διάλογοι του, οι ήρωές του και η εμβρίθεια με την οποία προσεγγίζει, τελικά, κοινωνικά θέματα με έναν σχεδόν αντι-διδακτικό τόνο, καταλήγοντας σε αναζωογωνητικά επιμύθια. Λοιπόν, ανοησίες. Ο Τόμσον αν ζούσε τώρα θα ήταν ο άρχων της southern gothic/nouar λογοτεχνίας, με τον Donald Ray Pollock να ακολουθεί κατά πόδας.

Σε τούτο εδώ, που θεωρείται το αριστούργημά του, εξακολουθεί να είναι καυστικός και χιουμορίστας. Είναι, όμως, και προκλητικός γιατί επιλέγει να φέρει τον αναγνώστη σε επαφή με κάτι πρωτόγνωρο για τα έως τότε δεδομένα: την πλευρά του εγκληματικού μυαλού. Και το κάνει ύπουλα, κα��ώς ο πρωτοπρόσωπος αφηγητής, ένας καθημερινός άνθρωπος, ξεδιπλώνει σταδιακά τα πλάνα του. Είναι ένα παντελώς ανάξιος εμπιστοσύνης αφηγητής. Όχι γιατί αποκρύπτει τα κίνητρά του, αλλά γιατί και ο ίδιος δεν τα γνωρίζει απόλυτα, καθώς χάνεται σε έναν δαίδαλο αίματος και εγκλήματος.

Στα μάτια μου, το έργο του Τόμσον είναι κάτι μοναδικό. Φαίνεται να τους έχει όλους γραμμένους στα παπάρια του, όταν δομεί μια ιστορία. Τα μοτίβα τσαλακώνονται, καθώς και οι προσδοκίες κάθε αναγνώστη που θα περιμένει να απολαύσεις τις συμβάσεις της αγαπημένης λογοτεχνίας του. Ο Τόμσον είναι αντισυμβατικός, είναι προκλητικός, έξυπνος. Ίσως είναι άρρωστος και να απευθύνεται σε ελαφρώς πειραγμένα μυαλά. Πάντως εγώ δεν θα χαιρόμουν να έβλεπα το παιδί μου να έχει στα χέρια του ένα βιβλίο του.

Για μένα αυτοί οι συγγραφείς, μαζί με τον Σελίν και τον Ουελμπέκ, που σπάνε τα φράγματα της ηθικής, που προκαλούν και καυστηριάζουν, ενώ παράλληλα προσφέρουν στιγμές υψηλής λογοτεχνικότητας, είναι οι λόγοι που δεν χάνω την πίστη μου στη λογοτεχνία.
Profile Image for Dave Schaafsma.
Author 6 books31.3k followers
December 20, 2020
I had not before this read any work by Jim Thompson, though I knew his reputation as a dark and grisly noir novelist from the mid-twentieth century. I had seen The Grifters (which I loved), but never read the book on which it was based (but now will!). I had recently read a comics adaptation of The Killer Inside, and liked it, so committed to reading the original, which I really did basically love.

Well, “love” is perhaps a simplistic stretch of an assessment for my experience of a serial killer’s first person account. It reminds me a little bit of Lolita, or Satan, in Milton’s Paradise Lost; in all three of these works you have elegantly written depictions of articulate monsters who convince many others (including many readers!) they are charming and admirable in many ways.

The Killer Inside Me is the story of Lou Ford, a small town (Central City) deputy sheriff who appears to be straight-laced and on the surface unremarkable. He has girlfriends, he has other friends, he does good and responsible work, but he allows no one to get close. Lou grew up with a secret, though: He has a sickness that he wants to control. He’s articulate, he’s well read, but he’s also a sociopath who has killed many people, and no one suspects anything about him. So can he cure his own sickness? The route he takes to mental health, well, let’s just say he may have benefitted just a bit from some professional help instead of just going that self-help route. Mistakes were definitely made going down that road.

The book has some terrific writing, it is deservedly a classic of the genre, but there are some (I warn you) disturbing revelations in this book, which he details even as he talks about the weather and so on in a very calm fashion. He’s seemingly unaffected by what he does. For instance, he seems to care very much for a young man, Johnnie; Lou listens to him, he counsels him, but is finally willing to throw him under the bus (Okay, not literally but you get the point).

There’s some speculation by the narrator himself about what makes him tick, and we are naturally curious about all that. Why does he do it? Is it the result of some early shock? Is it the fact that his mother died when he was young? That he got a step-brother early on, or is it the loss of his step-brother from murder? Lou’s Dad had scores of books on religion and psychology around the house, and Lou read many of them; the presumption is that moral and psychological explanations were sought, once Dad decided Lou had a “problem,” but nowhere in this book is a satisfactory explanation given for Lou’s horrific behavior. He has almost no real insight into himself, which is one really chilling thing about him, of course. At one point Lou says, “There are things that have to be forgotten if you want to go on living,” but he only hints just what it is that needs to be forgotten. He does terrible things and seems to forget them right away!

There's a fascinating exchange between Lou and his pragmatic lawyer about whether anyone can accurately be identified as evil. The lawyer says, "The name you give a thing depends on where you are standing. A weed is just a plant out of place." This kind of relativistic thinking is twisted by both of these guys to their own advantage.

At one point the oblivious monster Lou philosophizes to the young Johnnie: “’Yeah, Johnnie,’ I said, ‘it’s a screwed up, bitched up world, and I’m afraid it’s going to stay that way. And I’ll tell you why. Because no one, almost no one, sees anything wrong with it. They can’t see that things are screwed up, so they’re not worried about it.

We're living in a funny world, kid, a peculiar civilization. The police are playing crooks in it, and the crooks are doing police duty. The politicians are preachers, and the preachers are politicians. The tax collectors collect for themselves. The Bad People want us to have more dough, and the good people are fighting to keep it from us. It's not good for us, know what I mean?’”

You might wonder why a killer would write his own morbid story. So periodically he talks about the process of writing his (fictional) “memoir.” For instance:

“In lots of books I read, the writer seems to go haywire every time he reaches a high point. He’ll start leaving out punctuation and running his words together and babble about stars flashing and sinking into a deep dreamless sea. And you can’t figure out whether the hero’s laying his girl or a cornerstone. I guess that kind of crap is supposed to be pretty deep stuff—a lot of the book reviewers eat it up, I notice. But the way I see it is, the writer is just too goddam lazy to do his job. And I’m not lazy, whatever else I am. I’ll tell you everything.”

Oh, and he does, I warn you. I do ver much recommend it, but it's disturbing in places at the same time being very well-written. It's a classic, surely, I'll say, one of the top ten noir classics ever.
Profile Image for Lawyer.
384 reviews831 followers
February 21, 2013
The Killer Inside Me: Jim Thompson's classic Roman Noir

“Just as there are physical monsters, can there not be mental or psychic monsters born? The face and body may be perfect, but if a twisted gene or malformed egg can produce physical monsters, may not the same process produce a malformed soul?

Monsters are variations from the accepted normal to a greater or a less degree. As a child may be born without an arm, so one may be born without kindness or the potential of conscience. A man who loses his arms in an accident has a great struggle to adjust himself to the lack, but one born without arms suffers only from people who find him strange. Having never had arms, he cannot miss them. To a monster the norm must seem monstrous, since everyone is normal to himself. To the inner monster it must be even more obscure, since he has no visible thing to compare with others. To a criminal, honesty is foolish. You must not forget that a monster is only a variation, and that to a monster the norm is monstrous.”― John Steinbeck, East of Eden, 1952


Faucett Crest, Paperback edition, 1952

"A novel about murder unlike anything you've ever read." There it is right on the cover of the Faucett-Crest Original. And the people at that publishing company got it right.

My grandmother had a saying it was always easy to know someone who wasn't right. "That boy just don't look right out of his eyes." And I've known the times that she was right--absolutely right. But I think Steinbeck nails it. Because you can't always tell you're dealing with a monster. Because the face and body may be perfect. They are not physical monsters, no freak at the side show at the carnival. These people walk among us, looking and acting just the way we do, day to day. But they lack something we donhttp://www.goodreads.com/review/list/.... That is conscience. That is a value for the difference between right and wrong.

Take Jim Thompson's protagonist, Lou Ford. He's a deputy sheriff. He's the go to guy when it gets down to getting someone to talk. He's a natural at it, mouthing platitudes, assuring his suspects that he's their friend. He's respected by his sheriff.

 photo the-killer-inside-me-poster-old_zps678bcb15.jpg
Casey Affleck as Lou Ford in the 2010 film directed by Michael Winterbottom

However, when Lou feels the sickness, as he calls it coming on, he says he can't control himself. Perhaps you say Lou Ford was criminally insane. Not so. Lou knew the difference between right and wrong. He didn't give a damn. And when he determined it in his best interest, if people had to die, well, they were already dead in his book. Lou is a careful planner. He is a craftsman at construction of alibis. Adept at creating evidence pointing in anyone's direction but him, he's capable of covering his tracks well. Murder is not something that gnaws at his conscience, because he lacks one. Killing two people and covering his own skin, Lou returns home to his father's house where he prepares and wolfs down a large breakfast of ham and eggs. He's not squeamish.

I can't fault Jim Thompson for the psychology he cites accurately, the material that was commonly referred to at the time of his writing The Killer Inside Me Emil Kraepelin, whose works Lou Ford studies in his father's medical library is credited with the birth of modern psychiatric diagnoses. However Ford singles out Kraepelin's work on dementia praecox the precursor for what we now know as Schizophrenia. That diagnosis is a psychosis, amounting to a break with reality and a failure to recognize reality. A common description of defining a person's mental status is whether he is oriented x 3, that is, to person, place and time. That does not ever fit Lou Ford. He's conscious of person place and time at all times. It's his "moral" compass that's broken.

 photo Emil_Kraepelin_1926_zps53931a3d.jpg
Emil Kraepelin, Lou Ford's favorite author

Lou Ford's personality is described with unerring accuracy in Kraepelin's later work, which would have been available to Jim Thompson, under sections dealing with moral insanity. From wikipedia:

In fact from 1904 Kraepelin changed the section heading to 'The born criminal', moving it from under 'Congenital feeblemindedness' to a new chapter on 'Psychopathic personalities'. They were treated under a theory of degeneration. Four types were distinguished: born criminals (inborn delinquents), pathological liars, querulous persons, and Triebmenschen (persons driven by a basic compulsion, including vagabonds, spendthrifts, and dipsomaniacs). The concept of 'psychopathic inferiorities' had been recently popularised in Germany by Julius Ludwig August Koch, who proposed congenital and acquired types. Kraepelin had no evidence or explanation suggesting a congenital cause, and his assumption therefore appears to have been simple 'biologism'. Others, such as Gustav Aschaffenburg, argued for a varying combination of causes. Kraepelin's assumption of a moral defect rather than a positive drive towards crime has also been questioned, as it implies that the moral sense is somehow inborn and unvarying, yet it was known to vary by time and place, and Kraepelin never considered that the moral sense might just be different. Kurt Schneider criticized Kraepelin's nosology for appearing to be a list of behaviors that he considered undesirable, rather than medical conditions, though Schneider's alternative version has also been criticised on the same basis. Nevertheless, many essentials of these diagnostic systems were introduced into the diagnostic systems, and remarkable similarities remain in the DSM-IV and ICD-10.[4] The issues would today mainly be considered under the category of personality disorders, or in terms of Kraepelin's focus Antisocial/Dissocial personality disorder or psychopathy. (Emphasis added)

If there is anything in modern psychology that rings true, it deals with the development of sexuality. It is borne out be current research in the field that an adult's aberrant sexual behavior is often set during adolescence by the occurrence of a sexual event which leads the target of that event to recreate situations similar to those experienced in adolescence. So, perhaps whatever happened between Lou and his father's housekeeper, bent Lou a little crooked in his interactions with women in his adult years. And, of course, we know of his experience with a three year old girl up in the barn loft for which his foster brother took the blame. We also know that Dr. Foster knew of his son's aberrations, keeping him close under wraps, at home in Central City, Texas.

So, if you want to know what runs through the mind of a killer, Jim Thompson's novel is the one for you. Don't blame me if it sends a chill up your spine every few chapters are so. Listening to Lou Ford's story puts you across the table from Ted Bundy and John Wayne Gacy, just to name a few. And, when you're finished with this book, don't take too much comfort that it's only a story. For there are monsters that walk among us and sometimes they look just perfect out of their eyes.


Jim Thompson, (September 27, 1906, Anadarko, Oklahoma Territory – April 7, 1977, Los Angeles, California)
Profile Image for Melki.
5,785 reviews2,340 followers
January 26, 2015
"It's always lightest just before the dark..."

This is one terrific tale, though nasty as all get out.

Thompson seems to have serious Mommy issues, as all his women, be they whores or schoolmarms, are shrewish harpies. AND, he seems to believe that a good beating is the only foreplay a woman should ever need.

He is not alone in his cringe-worthy treatment of the ladies. It seems to be a common problem that has bugged the hell out of me in other books of this ilk and is probably the main reason I don't read more noir.

If you can ignore the quite literal female bashing here, this is a remarkably intriguing and arresting story, and a fascinating look inside the mind of a psychopath.
Profile Image for James Thane.
Author 9 books6,915 followers
December 6, 2022
Published in 1952, The Killer Inside Me is a true classic of noir crime fiction--a dark, disturbing tale that seems somehow to improve with each reading, in this case, the third for me.

The story is narrated by Lou Ford, a deputy sheriff in the small west Texas town of Central City. On the surface, Ford seems to be a "good ol' boy" and a reasonably nice guy, if not all that bright. He seems to like people, but he often bores them to death by talking endlessly about very mundane matters. Beneath that placid surface, though, lurks a much more complicated character. Ford has an awful secret that he's been carrying for years, along with impulses--a "sickness" as he describes it-- that he's been struggling to control for at least that long. As the story opens, those impulses are finally unleashed.

Ford's boss, Sheriff Bob Maples, assigns Ford to deal with Joyce Lakeland, a very attractive young woman who has been discreetly selling her favors out of a small house on the edge of town. Maples tells Ford that Lakeland has been "mighty decent about it. She ain't running it into the ground, and she ain't takin' on no roustabouts or sheepherders. If some of those preachers around town weren't rompin' on me, I wouldn't bother her a-tall."

Maples instructs Ford to deal with the situation however he thinks best, but once Ford arrives at Lakeland's home, he and the woman exchange harsh words and the situation rapidly escalates. Ford beats the woman badly, only to discover that she enjoys it. They then begin a very kinky relationship that will shortly lead to several brutal murders, especially as Ford now attempts to settle some old family scores.

The violence in the book is pretty shocking, especially for 1952. But what really makes the book so distinct, so compelling, and ultimately so horrifying, is the cool, composed and calculated way in which Lou Ford narrates the actions he takes throughout the book. Thompson forces the reader to look deep into the mind of an extremely damaged serial killer in a way that no other author ever has, at least to my knowledge.

It's an amazing tale and Lou Ford is a character that the reader will never forget. This book has been made into two pretty decent films but nothing can capture the essence of the story like reading it in Lou Ford's own twisted words. Jim Thompson was a one-of-a-kind author, and this is one of his best works.
Profile Image for María.
194 reviews79 followers
September 9, 2020
Lo mío con Jim Thompson ya es amor incondicional. Tengo que reconocer que he perdido totalmente la objetividad con este autor, su estilo tan único y reconocible me encanta y ya me da igual lo que me esté contando que sé que, en mayor o menor medida, lo voy a disfrutar.
En este caso la novela trata sobre otro de esos personajes extremos y torturados de Thompson; es un viaje a la mente de un psicópata asesino que de cara a los demás es un buenazo, pero que en un momento determinado se despierta lo que el llama su "enfermedad" dando lugar a una historia de muerte y violencia.
Profile Image for Tim.
476 reviews610 followers
August 7, 2018
"A weed is a plant out of place."

Indulge me for a moment; before I talk about the book’s contents, let me talk about the physical book. The cover of my edition is a plain tan-ish color, with just the title, the author, a few small pictures of sheriff stars, revolvers and bottles lined in a row and then a quote of praise that takes up about a third of the cover. The quote is as follows:

“Probably the most chilling and believable first-person story of a criminally warped mind I have ever encountered.”
- Stanley Kubrick

If you have ever seen Kubrick’s films (almost all based on novels), you would know that’s actually saying quite a bit.

This is the story of Lou Ford. He’s a good old boy, a southern gentleman, filled with corny “words of wisdom” like “the grass is always greener on the other side” and such. He’s a deputy in a little place known as Central City, and it’s the perfect job for him, as it allows him easier access to cover up his crimes. You see despite Lou’s slow-witted façade, he’s quite the clever murderer.

"I tried to be extra pleasant to her. She was getting on my nerves, hanging around so much. But she wouldn't be hanging around long, so I thought I ought to be as nice as I could."

These are our narrator's thoughts about his girlfriend who he plans on killing. Ladies and gentlemen, this book starts off classic noir and moves straight into horror territory. We get a detailed account of Lou’s actions, and though it’s somewhat ridiculous of me to say this given other works at the time, but I was genuinely shocked that this was published in 1952. This feels… grittier, darker, something I would expect more out of an author in the 70s who wanted to mirror stylistic touches from the past. The book is violent and doesn’t shy away from its sexual content either (though playing a careful balance as to never go quite too far).

Lou is easily one of the most disturbing protagonists I’ve ever read. He smiles and acts the fool to people, all of them knowing what a big soft hearted fellow he is, all while planning out what he is going to do next. He often tries to justify his actions, trying to make the reader sympathetic towards him. He’s constantly making excuses and then making new ones when those don’t seem to pan out for him. It’s someone else’s fault always… not good old Lou’s. Obviously it was his childhood, or maybe was his father, or maybe it's the way society acts, or maybe all of the above. You understand don’t you? Lou’s a nice guy, right?

It’s absolutely chilling, and worst of all is that you occasionally get the impression that he truly does like some of these people, and well, it’s just such a gosh darn shame that things had to end up like this.

"I grinned, feeling a little sorry for him. It was funny the way these people kept asking for it. Just latching onto you, no matter how you tried to brush them off, and almost telling you how they wanted it done. Why'd they all have to come to me to get killed? Why couldn't they kill themselves?"

This is a masterfully done novel. A work of fiction that gets under the reader’s skin with a smile and a laugh. It is also a shockingly funny novel, which makes it even more uncomfortable, as you see how easy it is for Lou to disarm people. When he’s not acting like a fool, he’s quick witted and borderline charming. This managed to creep me out in a way American Psycho never did, as unlike Bateman, I found myself sometimes liking Lou.

And that dear readers, is truly a frightening thing.

A well deserved 4 out of 5 stars and a full recommendation.
Profile Image for Lou.
879 reviews859 followers
June 30, 2012
This was a humdinger of a story written through the eyes of a sheriff Lou Ford of a small, middle-of-nowhere west Texas town of Central City. Is he an easy-going, well-liked man and a respected citizen of the town, well known for his quiet, gentle nature? On the inside he has a dark-side he is a sociopathic killer who seems to think that life is ruled by any means necessary, full of both corny, small-town bonhomie and murderous psychosexual rage. He will not hesitate to eliminate his loved ones with brutal emotional dis-attachment. In the following discussion in the novel he is describing his perspective on life.
"You're a square Joe." "am I ?" i said."How do you know i am, Johnny? How can a man ever really know anything? Were living in a funny world, kid, a peculiar civilisation. The police are playing crooks in it, and the crooks are doing police duty. The politicians are preachers, and the preachers are politicians. The tax collectors collect for themselves. The bad people want us to have more dough, and the good people are fighting to keep it from us. It's not good for us, know what i mean? If we all had all we wanted to eat, we'd crap too much. We'd have inflation in toilet paper industry. That's the way i understand it. That's about the size of some of the arguments i've heard."
"Theres a time of peace I said and a time of war. A time to sow and a time to reap. A time to live and a time to die"

Jim Thompson creates a main protagonist that you get to like, but at the same time he has a side to him we would all hate. Thompson tries to show us that the cliched perspective of 1950s America as a land of communal benevolence and white picket fences requires attention. Paper thin, with a cancerous presence under the skin from the actions of 'evil that men do.' It is a mark of Thompson's skill that our identification with Lou, encouraged by his first-person narration, is never quite frayed. While he seems at the same time to explain his reasons for his actions he does not quite understanding why he treads that path, he tries to understand himself in his story by digging out a quote out of a psychology textbook.

"The subject suffers from strong feelings of guilt... combined with a sense of frustration and persecution... which increase as he grows older; yet there are rarely if ever any surface signs of... disturbance. On the contrary, his behaviour appears to be entirely logical. He reasons soundly, even shrewdly. He is completely aware of what he does and why he does it..."

This was my first Thompson novel and made me dig out his other works I found them all to just as hard boiled and compelling. The movie adaptation recently was good but had some brutal images.
Also on my webpage @http://more2read.com/review/the-killer-inside-me-by-jim-thompson/
Profile Image for Nickolas the Kid.
306 reviews70 followers
March 2, 2017
Δεν είναι τυχαίο που ο Κιούμπρικ θεωρούσε τον συγκεκριμένο συγγραφέα μεγαλοφυΐα... Το βιβλίο σε μεταφέρει στις ΗΠΑ του 1952, σε μια noir ατμόσφαιρα που όλα είναι πιθανά>..

Ολόκληρη η κριτική στην Λέσχη του Βιβλίου:

Profile Image for Carol.
1,370 reviews2,133 followers
July 29, 2020
WARNING #1 - The Stephen King foreward has major spoilers. (read after)

WARNING #2 - "Hitchhikers* may be escaped lunatics."

Let's begin with a Stephen King quote: "THE KILLER INSIDE ME is an American classic, no less, a novel that deserves space on the same shelf as Moby-Dick, Huckleberry Finn, The Sun Also Rises, and As I Lay Dying. Thompson's other books are either good or almost great, but all of them pale before the horrifying, mesmerizing story of Lou Ford, that smiling good ol' Texas boy who would rather beat you to death with cliches than shoot you with a .44 ...but if the cliches don't do the job, he is not afraid to pick up the gun. And use it."

Lou Ford is a deputy sheriff in the offbeat town of Central City, Texas. He is easy-going, soft hearted and genuinely (?) likes people. He has a pretty chatter-mouth girlfriend who he sort of loves, but will never marry, and an even prettier strumpet on the side that he claims to truly love. He likes bantering with people (to drive them crazy) and does indeed know how to handle troublemakers. He even likes good ol' sheriff Bob.

BUT....Lou is also a deeply disturbed, sneaky, conniving serial killer....a truly scary type of serial killer who struts down the street in his Stetson with a satisfying smile on his face after committing an atrocious act, AND, (as you will see) his shocking comments and thoroughly disgusting laugh-out-loud reaction afterward just takes the mind-boggling cake!

The first person narration works so well here giving the reader a glimpse into the mind of a psycho killer as he plans every move, and make no doubt about it, this dude eliminates anyone who gets in his way.

First published March 13, 1952 THE KILLER INSIDE ME classic is an unsettling, but notable work of crime-noir-horror that I must rate 5 Stars. It's just so....what?....indescribably dark and nasty?....or crazy good?

* (I can't believe how many times we picked up hitchhikers in the 60's!)

223 reviews195 followers
November 11, 2012
When Boris Vian hoaxed his way into the roman noir scene in 1958 with ‘I spit on your graves’, he was giving Jim Thompson a nod.

This book is riveting. It springs on the back of Chandler and Hammet who were by then moulding the no-nonsense, cynical, take no prisoner ‘Has- Been’ into limelight situations, but whereas these pioneer anti-heroes seem to preserve a modicum of decency, their successors, guided by the likes of Patricia Highsmith, Vian and Thompson seem to surgically remove that modicum, leaving in its wake a macabre portrait of pathology.

General consensus ties our current era of rudderless moral drift into incoherent and incongruous direction to the sounding knell of overt rebelliousness in the 1960s, but it seems, in fact, a lot of groundwork was being laid quietly but decisively in the 50s. Its writers like Thompson who broke with established zeitgeist in the 50s and kickstarted the momentum culminating in the total anti-thesis of the status quo in the 60s.

Lou Ford is the quintessential psychopath, a bogeyman: he gives me the shivers across a fifty year divide, he is that fresh. And relevant. The full horror of this man is the utter unpredictability of a pillar in society jeckyll-n’hyding into a psychotic killer, with no warning signs to give the community at large an inkling as to the monster lurking inside.

Lou is a damaged, sad human being who epitomises, on some level, the universal sense of guilt imbued in all of us who are products of the 2000 year old judeo-christian legacy, and particularly in relation to sex (bearing in mind this novel came out in the 1950s). Psychologically gripping and disturbing, this book is unputdownable.
Profile Image for Aditya.
270 reviews79 followers
July 23, 2021
I find Jim Thompson's perspective extraordinary. It is mean-spirited, diabolical, subversive yet bursting with a kind of honesty that is chilling in its simplicity. Lou Ford is a deputy Sheriff by day and a sociopath by night. Thompson is not the first author to put the reader in the head of a demented killer, Dorothy B. Hughes preceded him by a few years with In a Lonely Place. But Thompson manages to do something special here. Ford is by far the most logical character in the book. His reasoning is so shrewd and sound that you can't help but agree that murder is indeed the optimum solution for his problems. Ford does not really see himself as a bad guy, he would not favor violent murder and kinky sex but the world simply does not leave him with placid options and Thompson makes you agree with Ford. There in lies the genius of Thompson. He is honest that he is showing you a melodramatic, fun house version of reality but the deeper you get into the book the more it starts making sense. You smirk that his worldview is not that skewed and then you are terrified it might even be real.

Ford's idea of entertainment is talking in cliches and platitudes and convincing everybody he is an idiot. “Now, I’ve always felt we were one big happy family here....We’re kind of brothers under the skin...We’re all in the same boat, and we’ve got to put our shoulders to the wheel and pull together." And guess where he learns to talk like that. I pick up lots of good lines at prayer meetings. His argument makes complete sense. People who indulge him do so because they condescend to him. So Ford lives a private joke where they don't understand it is actually him patronizing people with good old fashioned decency. (I often do that to religious zealots, it is actually cathartic.) The plot is simple, Ford kills people and outwits the law. Ford never kills people without a reason and he genuinely wants to do right by his friends. The best part of the book comes midway when he has to decide between saving his friend's neck or his own.

It is fascinating when Ford brings out his true self in front of people. When he bares his soul you understand he is probably only abusing the latent hypocrisy that the world tacitly encourages. There is an excellent interrogation scene where acknowledging Ford had premarital sex with his girl friend would help to put him behind bars. But Ford slithers out of that situation because he chides the cop for suggesting a woman of good grooming can even entertain such lurid thoughts. The clincher the whole town knows he was screwing her. Stephen King in his foreword calls it a great American novel because it helps us understand leaders like Nixon or mad men like Lee Harvey Oswald. Incidentally read it after you finish the book because the foreword is a bit lenient with spoilers. My reasoning for calling it a great novel is a bit different. Ford saw through the world and its hypocrisies, he stood up and said he can do it better. He actually becomes the greatest hypocrite his town has ever seen and he is deemed crazy for being so good at it.

Thompson did not have a happy life. He was one of the best crime writers in his generation but he never sold in USA. He became a great scriptwriter and wrote screenplays for The Killing and Paths of Glory. The former is good, the latter is legendary. Stanley Kubrick screwed him out of credit and downplayed his contribution in both the instances. Kubrick had a habit of screwing with authors. Stephen King still bashes Kubrick's treatment of The Shining though it has been decades since Kubrick died and King is hardly ever critical of directors. Anyway those two movies were instrumental in announcing Kubrick to the world, he became one of the best directors the world has ever seen and no one remembered Thompson. So you gotta wonder how much of Thompson was in Ford. It starts as a noir and ends up taking an interesting look at mental illness. But Thompson was called Dimestore Dostoevsky for a reason. Among noir authors, he was the most profoundly pessimistic among plenty of pessimists, the most charmingly cynical among a collection of cynics. It is certainly worth reading but it is violent, misogynistic and as dark as noir gets. Rating - 5/5

Quotes: I found out long ago that the place where the law is apt to be abused most is right around a courthouse.

Ravings of a mad man or a visionary? You decide. "How can a man ever really know anything? We’re living in a funny world, kid, a peculiar civilization. The police are playing crooks in it, and the crooks are doing police duty. The politicians are preachers, and the preachers are politicians. The tax collectors collect for themselves. The Bad People want us to have more dough, and the Good People are fighting to keep it from us. It’s not good for us, know what I mean? If we all had all we wanted to eat, we’d crap too much. We’d have inflation in the toilet paper industry. That’s the way I understand it. That’s about the size of some of the arguments I’ve heard....it’s a screwed up, bitched up world, and I’m afraid it’s going to stay that way. And I’ll tell you why. Because no one, almost no one, sees anything wrong with it.”

P.S. Why do I always relate with the erudite losers and the sarcastic psychos? : )
Profile Image for Nancy Oakes.
1,922 reviews731 followers
December 23, 2016
The Killer Inside Me is one of those novels that needs no introduction at all -- it is and will always be a classic of American noir fiction, it's been made into two movies (1976 and 2010), and chances are that if you haven't read the novel you've at least seen the film. Or, if you're really fainthearted, you've experienced neither, since both book and movie are dark, disturbing, and well past the point of unsettling. It's also one of those books that has been studied left and right, inside and out, and has even been the subject of a number of dissertations.

This book is extremely difficult to read because of the sadistic, misogynistic violence (yes, I know ... a thing I generally try to avoid but I had to read this book -- it's a classic), but it's trying to untangle what's in Ford's mind that is really the draw for me. The novel is Lou's confession, if you will, his way of trying to make us understand the logic behind his actions, laying out his plans ahead of time for our perusal, and revealing just how he is able to fool people so easily -- until he can't any more. He is, in cliché speak, the ultimate wolf in sheep's clothing.

There is so much to this novel aside from the violence, but going through everything I discovered in this book would take forever. As I said earlier, this novel has been scrutinized, studied, written about academically and otherwise, so there are a number of places to dig out more about it. It's up there among books that made me want to take a shower after reading it, but it's so damn good I just couldn't stop. And that sort of scares me, actually.

Insanely good, but to be very honest, I liked his Pop. 1280 even more.

much more here: http://www.crimesegments.com/2016/12/...
Profile Image for foteini_dl.
430 reviews119 followers
July 7, 2017
Αναρωτιέμαι αν μου άρεσε τόσο πολύ,επειδή ο Thompson γράφει απίστευτα ή επειδή είναι καλοκαίρι που κάνω μια στροφή στα αστυνομικά και τ’ απολαμβάνω. Εντάξει,δεν τίθεται θέμα,η γραφή του συγγραφέα είναι αυτή που σε τραβάει.
Αυτό που με έκανε ν’ ανατριχιάσω είναι ότι επέλεξε την αφήγηση σε πρώτο πρόσωπο για να μας παρουσιάσει ένα άρρωστο μυαλό.Άρρωστο όχι απλά γιατί σκοτώνει (σιγά το «περίεργο»),αλλά γιατί φαίνεται να μην έχει κάποιο συγκεκριμένο λόγο να σκοτώσει. Όλα είναι αίμα.Μπρρ…
Να σας πω,είδα ότι αυτό ήταν ένα από τ' αγαπημένα βιβλίο του Stanley Kubrick (ο Thompson συνεργάστηκε με τον σκηνοθέτη για το σενάριο της ταινίας “The Killing”) και ο Thomspon από τους αγαπημένους συγγραφείς του Stephen King (λογικό το βρίσκω). Και είναι λίγο ανησυχητικό ότι το απόλαυσα και εγώ,γιατί δε νομίζω ότι αυτά τα βιβλία έχουν απήχηση στα πιο ισορροπημένα μυαλά.Οπότε,προσέξτε μην με εκνευρίσετε,έχω πάρει διάφορες ιδέες. (Just kidding.Η' μήπως όχι;)
Profile Image for notgettingenough .
1,026 reviews1,180 followers
August 16, 2016
This was my orginal thoughts with which I was never satisfied:

Until I saw this my gut feeling was that it would be impossible to take Jim Thompson to the screen, but I stand corrected. Fabulous movie which precisely captures the spirit of Thompson’s writing. I first suggested seeing this to a male who refused on the grounds that ‘horrible things happened to women’ and they do, but I have no idea why this would be interpreted as being about ‘male hate’ ‘misogeny’. Like most people, I guess, my reactions are that although at an intellectual level extreme violence against men is as dreadful as against women, at an emotional level that simply isn’t so. However, I can’t see that this movie is any more visually violent than, say, Pan’s Labyrinth and Red Riding Trilogy, the violence being sickening in both. In both of these I recall violence against men. I don’t think violence like this should ever be shown as ‘entertainment’. It diminishes the nature of violence, it does desensitise, it does make it normal, even as we complain about it.

And this to me brings to mind a discussion I started in my review of Stendhal’s Memoirs of an Egotist. http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/...

There we were talking about the fact that a picture can give an impression which if read instead would be found cheap and coarse. At the time I suggested that the reverse would surely sometimes be true, that a nasty picture could be ennnobled by a description in words and this kept coming back to me in the movie. One of the things Thompson does is describe violence in the most gripping, gut-wrenching way which makes one feel there and part of it. I say that as one who finds descriptions of violence generally tedious, both visual and by word. His writing of this kind of thing is staggeringly good. And although I haven’t read this book yet, I’ve read enough Jim Thompson to be sure that the scenes where Winterbottom attempts to force us to watch women (as it happens) being punched and kicked to death, would have been utterly readable in a way they were not - and indeed should not have been - watchable. However real Thompson’s descriptions are, they still have not been robbed of the reader’s imagination in the way film steals. I wish more film directors understood that suggestion is so much more powerful than blatancy. Strangely, I think the way to transfer to the screen what I expect to have been the explicit nature of Thompson’s description of these scenes would have been to draw back from the explicit. Maybe this is because in the end, in a movie, you are watching rather than taking part in the way you are when reading.

Jim Thompson, out of favour for decades, has suddenly become flavour of the month, his books are back in mainstream print and now this movie. All I can say is that he should never have been out of fashion, he is a splendid writer and I don’t want to put a genre on that any more than I would on Simenon’s non-Maigret books. They are part of a movement of mid-to-late-twentieth century studies of sociopaths which are, in my opinion, a very important part of the literature of that period. So get trendy and read him…and yes, by all means see the movie too.

End of initial thoughts. Having taken these off this review, the discussion http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/... with Paul prompts me to repost.

And express a reconsideration. In retrospect, I consider the way in which the violence was portrayed here to be absolutely legitimate. Maybe there are other ways of doing it that would have worked. I think of the film The Boys in which there is almost no explicit violence and yet the threat looms far larger than the execution. But still, in order to get inside the head of the killer I can see that the approach taken by the director maybe worked in a way that was utterly horrific but still meaningful. I do not think that of either Pan's Labyrinth or Red Riding Trilogy where the violence served no purpose whatsoever.


I feel like I've failed this book, so I'm starting again...

It was watching the movie of this book that gave me one of those moments of understanding.

There are the ones who say what they believe, who say what they mean. Then there are the ones who believe what they say, who mean what they say. This second group is convinced that their very act of saying something makes it true. ‘I’ve said it, therefore I mean it, therefore it is true.’

The – I really don’t know what to call him, villain??? – kicks and punches to death a woman. He explains as he is doing it that he has to do it, it cannot be helped and, of course, he has said it, therefore in his view of the world, it is true. In a deeply moving moment as the woman is lying on the floor, dying, a gentle pool of her urine growing on the floor, she reaches for her handbag. Why? Is there something with which to belatedly defend herself in there? Her hand doesn’t make it. She dies first. Later we find that she was reaching to find a letter she had for this man, her love. I suspect some critics thought we were supposed to see this woman as weak, not putting up any resistance as she was so brutally assaulted, but they don’t get it. She loved the man who was kicking her to death. Not at any point did that love waver. It was strength, not weakness that we witnessed in this scene. She loved this man. She wanted to deliver her letter.
Profile Image for Mara.
400 reviews280 followers
July 26, 2014
I've read what some may consider to be a creepy number of non-fiction books on sociopathy (The Sociopath Next Door, Snakes in Suits: When Psychopaths Go to Work, The Mask of Sanity). All of them attempt to offer insight into the heads of these individuals among us who exist without conscience, and adeptly "play human." Many of them (especially The Gift of Fear: Survival Signals That Protect Us from Violence by Gavin de Becker - which rumor has it Oprah recommended) try to aid the average, non-sociopathic Joe in identifying and avoiding such individuals. The crux of the advice being that there's just this kind of gut feeling that you ought to go with. Jim Thompson, however, lets you climb into the brain of your neighborhood sociopath and does so in a way that is just so satisfying.

Lou Ford, deputy sheriff and creep extraordinaire is playing a game with the world around him.
That’s what I was going to be; I was going to have to live and get along with rubes. I wasn’t ever going to have anything but some safe, small job, and I’d have to act accordingly.

He bores people with platitudes just to watch them squirm, and (maybe I shouldn't be admitting this) I couldn't help but laugh with him as he did so. This book is a heaping spoonful of sick satisfaction...and I loved it.
Profile Image for Lark Benobi.
Author 1 book1,838 followers
August 2, 2021
I feel silly expressing this opinion about a well-known and revered classic of the noir genre--a genre that is all about sex and violence and amorality mixed together in the most disturbing combination possible--but this book was too much for me.

Just way too ugly.
Profile Image for Kelly (and the Book Boar).
2,444 reviews7,532 followers
December 10, 2021
“It’s—it’s always lightest j-just before the dark.” Tired as I was, I laughed. “You got it wrong, Bob,” I said.

A serial killer story told from the killer’s perspective?

Originally published in the 1950s this story has aged remarkably well (and contained way more gory details than I was expecting for its age). The Killer Inside Me would have made an A+ Hitchcock movie. Many thankings to J. Kent Messum for putting this one on my radar. He’s one of the few authors who have made the cut of remaining on my friends list. Not only does he write great stuff (HIGHLY recommend both Bait and Husk, but he’s an avid reader whose tastes seem to match mine remarkably well, who rarely attempts to peddle his own wares, and has never shown his ass as a “badly behaving author.” That’s a win win win.
Profile Image for Mike (the Paladin).
3,145 reviews1,811 followers
February 21, 2014
This is a slightly tricky book to rate and review. I want to give at least a minor warning as I think some readers will find the book to some extent disturbing. that said it's considered a classic of it's type and I can see why. The writing could be called masterful.

This novel was written in 1952. Other than a few terms that are obsolete the story holds up well and in no way really feels dated. I mean yeah we have older cars, limited phone availability and a '50s society but it doesn't "jump out" or in any way intrude into the storytelling/reading.

As a side note there is a 2010 movie adaption of this book. I have never seen it so I can't comment on it. I do know the movie was roundly criticized for violence against women. As I said I haven't seen the movie, but if the movie stays true to the book there's no way to avoid that.

Lou Ford is somewhat of a psychopathic sadist. The book is told from Lou's point of view and the most frightening thing about it is Lou's voice. He's so normal and everybody likes him. Lou on the other hand has known all along about the monster that's imprisoned inside him, he's struggled to keep it there. He's been careful for years to keep it chained. The book will take us on a guided tour of Lou's descent into madness. We get a front row seat to his mind. He moves among his friends, his neighbors and no one knows who...or what he really is.

None of that^ is a spoiler, but I can't say anymore without a spoiler. I don't want to do that. I do want you to know however that you'll get some graphic violence (still not as graphic as some more modern books but it gets the job done). It's emotionally straining and emotionally draining but it's extremely well written.

I can recommend it with certain reservations.
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