jim thompson


25 Points: The Killer Inside Me

The Killer Inside Me
by Jim Thompson
Vintage, 1991
256 pages / $14.95 buy from Powell’s








1. Lou Ford is a small town sheriff who kills people in extremely gruesome ways (though the language chosen to describe it is subdued).

2. He strikes everyone in town as a moron, and somehow when he starts killing this makes it all the more irksome.

3. Stanley Kubrick called it “probably the most chilling and believable first-person story of a criminally warped mind I have ever encountered.” And he was correct.

4. The novel’s author, Jim Thompson, was known as Dimestore Dostoyevsky, which is also correct.

5. Lou Ford takes a lot of baths and reading this in a hot bathtub is very difficult.

6. Jim Thompson is one of the most intriguing figures to ever write a story about a killer and—unlike most—he does it best in the first person.

7. The ending will probably make you wish you were still in the thick of the narrative, which is either a sign of the novel’s excellence or an observation that ending something this strange and unconventional is not-fucking-easy.

8. Lou Ford takes to bashing around a hooker named Joyce Lakeland, who likes it a great deal and encourages him to keep coming back.

9. Casey Affleck stars in a film rendition of this book that recently came out and although it’s pretty spot on I think you’ll find when reading that some things just cannot translate.

10. Though the convention of the cops being on the killer’s tail plays a part in this book you’re hardly on the edge of your seat wondering about the morality being discussed here; this is, more than anything, a work of art by an artist before it is a poorly-crafted slice of genre fiction. READ MORE >

October 16th, 2012 / 9:09 am

The two versions of his novel “The Getaway” — Peckinpah’s in 1972 and Roger Donaldson’s 1994 remake — are notoriously watered down and leave out the book’s most interesting feature: an ending in which the two central characters, a bank robber and his wife, descend into a physical and spiritual hell. Indeed.  I always wondered why they left out the best and most bizarre part, when the protagonists go to a fabled Mexican haven for criminals and find it’s a nightmarish semi-fascist enclave (surprise!).  I love Jim Thompson, have loved him since I was ten or eleven.  The Getaway, The Killer Inside Me, The Grifters, Savage Night.  Interested to see Michael Winterbottom’s adaptation of The Killer Inside Me, which provoked lots of disgusted walkouts at Sundance.  Trailer looks good.