Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “A Hell of a Woman” as Want to Read:
A Hell of a Woman
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

A Hell of a Woman

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  3,077 ratings  ·  160 reviews
¿Quién tiene la potestad de perdonar una vida o de dar muerte? En el caso de Dillon, un vendedor a domicilio de escasa moral, todas las dudas se disipan cuando conoce a la joven y frágil Mona, que durante años ha sido víctima de las maldades de su tía, una rica anciana que ha llegado a convertirla prácticamente en una prostituta.
¿No merece la muerte un ser tan
Mass Market Paperback, Paperback Original, 160 pages
Published 1954 by Lion Books
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about A Hell of a Woman, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
This answer contains spoilers… (view spoiler)
This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.95  · 
Rating details
 ·  3,077 ratings  ·  160 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of A Hell of a Woman
Dan Schwent
Down on his luck salesman Frank Dillon meets a girl named Mona who's being abused and practically put on the street corner by her elderly aunt. When Dillon finds out the aunt has over a hundred thousand dollars hidden in the house, he plans to kill her and run off with Mona. Unfortunately, this book was written by Jim Thompson...

Nobody writes noir tales about the wheels coming off an already shaky plan like old Mr. Cheerful himself, Jim Thompson. A Hell of a Woman is a tale very nearly from the
Top notch pulp masterpiece. Jim Thompson has a well-deserved reputation as one of the greatest of all the pulp writers. He wrote thirty novels in the late 1940's and the 1950's, many of which later became box office hits. But watching a movie based on one of Thompson's books is not the same as reading the original material. Although hundreds of writers have tried to ape his style, there was only one Jim Thompson. His tales are sordid. They are filled with psychopaths and grifters. His heroes are ...more
Dec 14, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It’s nice to know that when everyday life starts to seem kind of depressing that you can escape into a good book. Unless that book is by Jim Thompson. Then you’re screwed.

Frank ‘Dolly’ Dillon will tell you that he’s a hard working joe saddled with a lazy wife, and he just can’t catch a break at his job as salesman/collection agent for a company that sells cheap goods on credit to poor people. While making his rounds Dolly meets Mona, a young woman who is being pimped out her by nasty old aunt,
Jun 30, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
"L'enfer, c'est les autres"
- Jean-Paul Sartre, No Exit


There is only so much Jim Thompson one should read in a summer. Even an Arizona summer starts to seem dark under the weight of too much Thompson. Finishing this book makes me want to punch someone. Hard. Look, this isn't his best pitch. I get it. He's done better stuff. Things that will hang with you longer. Stories that were a bit more dynamic. But still, reading this Dimestore Dostoevsky is going to bend you no matter how this book
This is the first Jim Thompson book I've read (don't know why it took so long), but it was definitely an experience. The story starts out with a fairly simple and familiar noir plot, focusing on a door-to door salesman who gets smitten for a meek, but strangely attractive young woman, and hatches a plot to steal some dough from her aunt, who's a down-right deplorable old witch that pimps out her niece to everyone around town. But eventually, it evolves into this totally bizarre and unpredictable ...more
these 3 star ratings reflect a lack of consistency as thompson was a pulpdrunk piece-of-shit meet-a-deadline writer who could reach great heights but then'd mar the work with some sloppyass booshit. just as simenon, in response to a question asking if he had a 'great' book in him, said that all his slim, singularly focused books were mere tiles in a great mosaic, i kinda think thompson's oeuvre adds up to something greater than the sum of its parts. they usually follow a pretty traditional route ...more
James Thane
Sep 14, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime-fiction, noir
This is vintage Jim Thompson--a story filled with irredeemable characters and lots of sex, violence and alcohol.

Frank Dillon is an outside salesman/collector for a company that preys on low-income people. He drinks too hard and plays fast and loose with his company accounts. A parade of unsatisfactory women have passed through his life, all of them memorable only for the faults they displayed. And then Frank meets the beautiful Mona, a sexy young woman desperately in need of being rescued from
Ben Winch
May 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: american, pulp, anglo, 5-stars
Dammit, I knew it! I just reviewed the whole Jim Thompson omnibus when deep down I knew that one review of A Hell of a Woman would say just about all I need to say about Jim Thompson. It's great! An underrated classic! From the first page you know this is Thompson at his best: the girl glimpsed through a window in a lightning storm, the hard-luck shyster salesman-cum-debt-collector out in the rain lusting after her, and the slang-talking first-person POV he would make famous in The Killer Inside ...more
Aug 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A masterclass in noir, A Hell of a Woman delves into crime, paranoia, passion, and madness. It also has some of my favorite noir tropes, such as a rude, no-nonsense protagonist and a metric ton of witty smart-mouthing.
Apr 18, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: pulp-fiction
I remember buying this when Black Lizard first came out and the cover was laminated with an amazing cover by Nancy McGregor showing an insane Marilyn Monroe leering right at you in a darkened office. That cover pulled $3.95 out of my pocket in record time. Since it was my last $3.95 I had to go downtown and donate my blood so I could have more money for books.
I read "A Hell Of A Woman" lying on a gurney pumping my plasma for book dough, and the transfusion didn't make my blood run cold, this
Carla Remy
Nov 25, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good plot, good suspense. Displays Thompson's mastery of twisted perspective shifts. Kind of just sinks into a hellhole at the end, like a fair amount of his fiction does.
Apr 04, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Comment from 2008: In recent months, I seem to have stumbled into the project of reading in publication order the collected works the noirboiled greats. Thus, since beginning to read noir in an orderly way, I've read the first two novels of Charles Williams, the first three of Raymond Chandler, the first six or seven by Cornell Woolrich, etc. At some point, I'll start with the first Jim Thompson book, and begin working my way through his canon in an orderly fashion, too, and when I reach (and ...more
Dec 26, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own, read_2013
A door to door salesman stumbles across a young woman being held captive against her will and used as a sex slave by an unassuming yet villainous older woman. Offered the services of the sex slave as payment for goods he quickly turns down the offer (one of his very few redeemable moments) and sets out to free Mona. Of course, the cool thousand buck score sweetens the deal.

Frank Dillion (aka Dolly) isn’t a nice man. He’s abusive, a scammer; a grifter of sorts with little going for him apart
Sep 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Although, Dolly, the first person narrator is not as psychotic as many of Jim Thompson's narrators, he is a whack-a-doodle and Thompson hangs him out to dry. And this is really Thompson's forte, taking on the voice of a character he wants to skewer and doing them in with their own voice. Thompson's ability to throw his narrative voice is vastly underrated and it is on full display in this novel. One thing I loved is the way he showed Dolly scrambling, making mistakes and then trying to cover ...more
Jul 08, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sure fire formula for a great book....completely messed up, unreliable narrator who degenerates into madness. I despise people who don't accept responsibility for their actions, but somehow I forgive it in a Jim Thompson character. Frank Dillon is such a heel that I had to laugh at him. Crazy ass ending as usual....sort of a split-screen drug experience thing..... I've never read anything like it, except Thompson.
Deborah Sheldon
"There's just some guys that get the breaks, and some that don't. And me, I guess you know the kind I am." Not my favourite Jim Thompson novel, but a great read nonetheless, with a complex narrator and a plot that twists and turns in a dozen different ways.
Andy Weston
May 14, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the best Thompson I have read, though I am hardly an oficianado, just 4 in..
Though criticised for being violent and misogynistic, it’s not just women who have a hard time in this novel. This was first published in 1954, during a two year period in which he wrote 12 novels, much of his best work, though at the time of his death in 1977 none of his writing was still in print.
Thompson, nicknamed “the dome-store Dostoyevsky” had a family background that comes as no surprise, his father was
Mitch Duckworth
Apr 29, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Thompson is something akin to a genre of his own . . . You know a great deal before you read a single sentence. You know you're going to shake your head in disbelief and surprise at the outrageous behavior and complete disregard of the moral code evidenced by a still-completely likable protagonist. You know you're going to find yourself laughing at things that in life would be horribly un-laughable. You know that at some point, you're jaw is going to hang open—your eyebrows elevated to the apex ...more
Michael Logan
When I finished this book, it was a beautiful day in Rome. The birds were twittering, the sun was glinting through the trees and all seemed well with the world. Except I was reading a book by Jim Thompson. My word, that man was dark.
Feb 15, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I picked this Jim Thompson book off the shelf without expecting very much. It's generally not mentioned amongst the more lauded books Thompson has written, like Savage Night, Killer Inside Me, and Pop. 1280. Fortunately, it's just as strong as those aforementioned books, and if you're a Jim Thompson fan, I suggest you give this one a go.

The main character Frank "Dolly" Dillon is a pretty standard Thompson protagonist; he's ruthless, bibulous, hostile toward women, looking for an angle, and an
Christopher Fulbright
A HELL OF A WOMAN is a hell of a book, but if you've read much Jim Thompson you know that already. This isn't one of his better known novels I suppose -- at least, I hadn't heard a lot about it -- but it does have his signature plot turns and a lot of punch.

This is a fast read, and not just because it's a pretty short book. Thompson keeps the pressure on his main guy and never lets up. The end of every chapter throws a new wrench in the works, making this a gripping read that's hard to put down.
Mohammed Abdi Osman
This is a new experience for me, i havent read an avreage JT novel before and this was less than i expect from his kind of noir stories of characters with depth, the tight storytelling driven by the many compelling characters.

This novel the only character with depth, written decently compared to what i have come to expect from Thompson is the POV lead role Frank "Dolly" Dillion. He is unreliable narrator, disgusting pig when it comes to women, a real loser even in his own mind but at-least he
Jul 22, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I don't know what the new, modern cover is supposed to illustrate but THIS ->> A Hell of a Woman by Jim Thompson depicts the opening scene. And who knew you could get away with publishing such a perverse and sexual set-up back then? In fact, if adjectives like dark, perverse, sexual, and bleak make you prick up your ears, this is your book. They don't get much more noir than this.
Eve Kay
Apr 12, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, suspense
This was the top of the line. This really convinced me of Thompson.
The cruelty and the the honesty of the text is beautiful.
Reading this was somehow disturbing at times because I was afraid of what might happen but really really needed to know what might happen.
A dilemma.
Only solved by reading the book and leaving all the judging until the very end.
True Thompson, guaranteed!
Oct 18, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Dostoevsky without hope.
Oct 22, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There's an identical quote that shows up one some of my Richard Price and Jim Thompson paperbacks that states, "The dime-store Dostoevsky" - in Price's case, that's only accurate in that his writing is up to old Fyodor's level and both their works often, thematically, overlap.

The whole, "dime-store" bit doesn't do justice to Price's work, and, likewise with Jim Thompson. Thompson wrote crime since it sold better than his first two stabs at another style - the quality of his crime writing can't
Nov 24, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2018
Frank “Dolly” Dillon is down on his luck. He hates his job, he hates his boss, and he hates his (third) wife, too. He’ll tell you he’s worked hard his whole life and his inability to catch a break is always someone else’s fault, never his. And when he sees his chance to score a big payday in a scheme involving murder, robbery, and a young abuse victim, things will start to look up, surely.

Like hell they will! It’s a Jim Thompson book. This one’s a dime-novel Dostoevsky in its similarity to
Not as good as remembered.
Stephen Douglas Rowland
Suspenseful, solid effort from Thompson with a inexplicably bizarre and disturbing ending.
Joanne Renaud
Feb 24, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Joanne by: Amelia Mangan
Sleazy, violent, misogynistic and black as pitch: welcome to the world of Jim Thompson. His writing isn't for everyone, and I felt like I had to take a shower at frequent intervals, but his characters and world-building are incredibly compelling. The... "hero"... okay, protagonist... if I can even call him that... is a winning guy named Frank "Dolly" Dillon, a broke-ass door-to-door salesman for some 1950s Rent-a-Center type outfit. His heroic instincts, such as they are, are revived when he ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Sour Lemon Score (Parker, #12)
  • Pick-Up
  • The Big Sleep (Philip Marlowe, #1)
  • Shoot the Piano Player
  • A Rage in Harlem (Harlem Cycle, #1)
  • Nightmare Alley
  • Phantom Lady
  • The Hot Spot
  • Nightfall
  • Swag
  • Miami Blues (Hoke Moseley #1)
  • The Glass Key
  • The Big Nowhere (L.A. Quartet, #2)
  • I Married a Dead Man
  • Dark Passage
  • Knockemstiff
  • Evas öga (Konrad Sejer, #1)
  • The Expendable Man
See similar books…
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
“I told her the world was full of nice people. I'd have hated to try to prove it to her, but I said it, anyway.” 37 likes
“I told her the world was full of nice people. I'd have hated to try to prove it to her, but I said it, anyway.” 23 likes
More quotes…