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on February 12, 2000
After Dark, My Sweet is one of the most coherent Thompson novels I've read. Filled with paranoia, booze, hard women, crime & treachery, ADMS is a compact punch that's set on stun. It differs from most Thompson tales in that there are no real throw away chapters. His mental aberrations don't hinder the storytelling, rather they enhance it. It's a short, exciting read that doesn't wander. Thompson didn't always color in the lines, but he sure did with this one. All of the characters are desperate, yet believable. There's Collie, an ex-pugilist & mental patient, Faye, a widowed alcoholic, and Uncle Bud, an ex-cop with no redeeming qualities. The only flaw in their well-planned crime is that they, themselves, are involved. This book reads like a super lightweight fight, you know...the little skinny guys that come out swinging for their lives at the bell and never stop until someone goes down. I've read many Jim Thompson books and I must say that only A Hell Of A Woman, The Killer Inside Me, & Now And On Earth surpass After Dark, My Sweet. A fast read with few flaws is hard to find, but this is certainly one such book. Thompson imitators always fail for one simple reason...they lack the ability to bring an element of genuine insanity to the noir landscape. There are no substitutes & this is one of the master's best efforts. There is also a decent movie adaptation starring Rachel Ward & Jason Patric, as well as Bruce Dern. Read the book first for, while the movie is good, the book is far superior. I am sorry that Jim had to suffer the demons that he did, but I am most thankful for the literary results!
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VINE VOICEon August 7, 2004
The narration in this fascinating gem of a novel is provided by the main character, Collie. Collie is an escaped mental patient and as such he is homeless, friendless and directionless. Quite by chance, he makes the acquaintance of Fay Anderson, a young widow who drinks too much. Fay introduces him to an associate of hers, an ex-cop and two-bit swindler known only as Uncle Bud.

Uncle Bud has plans for a crime which will make all three of them rich. Now Collie may be certifiably insane but he is not stupid. He sees Uncle Bud for what he is and initially steers clear. But because he is attracted to Fay and because he has no place else to go, he changes his mind and, against his better judgement, agrees to become part of their hopelessly doomed scheme.

Reading After Dark, My Sweet is much like watching a train wreck as it unfolds. You want to cover your eyes but you can't. Thompson's writing is just too compelling. He masterfully takes the reader on a relentlessly downward spiral into complete and utter chaos while simultaneously introducing unforseen surprises every step of the way.

This is a great novel. Imbued with a palpable aura of impending, inevitable disaster, it grabs you by the lapels and doesn't let go. Jim Thompson was in top form when he wrote this one. Do yourself a favor and read it.
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on December 23, 1999
Trademark Jim Thompson characters and twists. But in this incarnation the formula is twisted and blended into perfection. If you only could read on Jim Thompson novel (which would be a crying shame) I would recommend After Dark my Sweet. Every character is well developed and seems real. The subject matter is still very relevant,not as dated as other Thompson fare like Pop 1280 and South of Heavan.
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on May 27, 2003
It seems that Jim Thompson's world of 1950s down-and-outs, alcoholics, criminals, and the mentally disturbed all come together rather nicely in this short novel, 'After Dark, My Sweet'. The story can be encapsulated as: deranged ex-fighter meets alcoholic woman and her criminally minded ex-cop friend, with whom they all embark foolish on a big crime (no spoilers here). As usual Jim Thompson captures perfectly the bleak ambiance, and the characterizations are spot on.
While the book is perfectly fine it is not in the league of the author's best works: 'The Killer Inside Me', 'The Getaway', and 'The Grifters'. All these books are somehow special in terms of pathos, horror or surprise. They are deserved to be called classics. 'After Dark, My Sweet' is not a classic, and I have no idea what the title means (..it has nothing to do with the story).
Bottom line: a worthy read, especially suited for Thompson fans.
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on February 28, 2013
1. Jim Thompson is one of my top 5 favourite writers who include Faulkner & Shakespeare so I am delighted to be prejudiced.
2. The best 'Noir' writer, no question. Better, yes, than Chandler and Ellroy, who come 2nd. Not my favourite of his books, but very good nonetheless, and what a title.
3. One may start reading Jim Thompson as Pulp Fiction, as an oldie Jack Higgins or what have you, for "the story?"It is usually, to my mind not really the point, though each one is haunting. The writer is also extremely funny - yes a bit "off?"- and his writing, his tempo, his mad lyricism are, last word, overwhelming.
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on December 22, 2004
After Dark, My Sweet actually seems like a love story, a couple days after it's finished. A wayward one at that too. But Kid Collins and Fay Anderson are star-crossed if there ever was a pair, and Thompson never lets you know, if or when they are ever alligned. Thompson keeps you guessing, about the plot between Uncle Bud, Fay and Kid, about who lives, who dies and why, and just what it is that Kid Collins has been running from for so long. Is he a mental case, or a first class con-man/actor bent on hell. There is a wonderful element of psychological chaos to Thompson's story, and it brought out of me a dimension of compassion and empathy, even as these people bang through life, toward doom.
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on December 3, 2012
After Dark, My Sweet is only my second exposure to Jim Thompson, but it's enough to make me realize that of all the man's talents - fascinating plotting, intriguing characters, a bleakly cynical worldview - none may be more fascinating than his ability to immerse you in the mind of disturbed, irrational, damaged men. Here, the man in question is William Collins, a former boxer whose personable, amiable ways belie a dangerous, unstable mind that reacts violently under pressure. How exactly Collins gets involved with an acid-tongued femme fatale and a washed up cop, and the crime they end up pulling - well, all of that should be left to discover as you read the book. But the short version is that Thompson creates a vivid portrait of deeply damaged and broken people who are lashing out at a world that they feel they have no part of and no concern for. There are a lot of twists and turns along the way, but in the end, After Dark, My Sweet is far more character-driven than you might expect, all the way to an ending that fits every noir staple and yet still feels both natural for the story and even oddly moving at the same time. I didn't like After Dark, My Sweet as much as The Killer Inside Me; while it's a masterful piece of noir, it's not the boundary-pushing revelation that Killer was. But given how incredible The Killer Inside Me was, falling short isn't something to be too ashamed of. And given how riveted I was by After Dark, My Sweet, and how rich and fascinating I found the characters and plotting, I'd say it's still an incredible read by any standard.
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on September 14, 2014
Welcome to Jim Thompson's twisted world. Thompson was one of the greatest of the 1950's pulp writers. But, Thompson wrote differently than almost anyone else at that time. His books are often narrated by grifters, conmen, and psychopaths. Often, as in "Killer Inside Me," the world doesn't realize that their local deputy is the nastiest psychopath they ever dreamed of. In his 1955 novel, "After Dark, My Sweet," the narrator is Kid Collins, a one-time boxing phenom, who left the ring after he punched one opponent so hard that the guy never got up again. Collins drifted from job to job, town to town, prison to prison, psych ward to psych ward, and, as this novel begins, he has escaped from his latest mental hospital. He knows he is nuts and can't stand everyone making fun of him (or is he just paranoid). On the way, he meets an older lush who he can't keep his eyes off of (Faye) and a troubled ex-cop (Uncle Bud) who just happen to be planning a kidnapping and need a sucker to play the fall guy.

The plot isn't filled with too many twists and turns, but what is wonderful here is Thompson's writing, which takes you inside the thinking of a guy who hasn't got all his marbles to begin with. There are, of course, those who are convinced the whole thing is a con on Kid Collins' part, but even cuckoos have moments where they think they are sane.

The world in Thompson's novel is dark and dreary. No one is picking up a hitchhiker. The bartender "slops" down a beer in front of Collins. Collins, even sitting in the bar having a drink, feels that old feeling creeping up on him. His eyes begin to burn He can't just walk away, but he can't get them to stop needling him.

As to Fay, Collins says his first impression was that she was just a female barfly who hit the booze too hard. But then he decided she was pretty, she'd just led a hard life for too long. And sometimes she could act as nice as she looked, but that's except when her claws came out and she started needling him and pushing him.

The whole story seems somewhat twisted, including the nutty kidnapping plot and dealing with the sick kidnapped kid, but its all told from Collins point of view and his world is warped and crazy and he doesn't trust anyone at all, not even Fay, not even Uncle Bud, not even the friendly doctor who wants to take him in.

Maybe today there are any number of books told from a warped point of view, but few did it back in the mid-1950's and one can only imagine what it was like back then coming across one of Thompson's books and not knowing what you were getting into. The cover blurb about "twisted lives and tormented loves" doesn't really give an inkling about where this thin volume takes the reader. Enjoy.
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on September 14, 2014
Welcome to Jim Thompson's twisted world. Thompson was one of the greatest of the 1950's pulp writers. But, Thompson wrote differently than almost anyone else at that time. His books are often narrated by grifters, conmen, and psychopaths. Often, as in "Killer Inside Me," the world doesn't realize that their local deputy is the nastiest psychopath they ever dreamed of. In his 1955 novel, "After Dark, My Sweet," the narrator is Kid Collins, a one-time boxing phenom, who left the ring after he punched one opponent so hard that the guy never got up again. Collins drifted from job to job, town to town, prison to prison, psych ward to psych ward, and, as this novel begins, he has escaped from his latest mental hospital. He knows he is nuts and can't stand everyone making fun of him (or is he just paranoid). On the way, he meets an older lush who he can't keep his eyes off of (Faye) and a troubled ex-cop (Uncle Bud) who just happen to be planning a kidnapping and need a sucker to play the fall guy.

The plot isn't filled with too many twists and turns, but what is wonderful here is Thompson's writing, which takes you inside the thinking of a guy who hasn't got all his marbles to begin with. There are, of course, those who are convinced the whole thing is a con on Kid Collins' part, but even cuckoos have moments where they think they are sane.

The world in Thompson's novel is dark and dreary. No one is picking up a hitchhiker. The bartender "slops" down a beer in front of Collins. Collins, even sitting in the bar having a drink, feels that old feeling creeping up on him. His eyes begin to burn He can't just walk away, but he can't get them to stop needling him.

As to Fay, Collins says his first impression was that she was just a female barfly who hit the booze too hard. But then he decided she was pretty, she'd just led a hard life for too long. And sometimes she could act as nice as she looked, but that's except when her claws came out and she started needling him and pushing him.

The whole story seems somewhat twisted, including the nutty kidnapping plot and dealing with the sick kidnapped kid, but its all told from Collins point of view and his world is warped and crazy and he doesn't trust anyone at all, not even Fay, not even Uncle Bud, not even the friendly doctor who wants to take him in.

Maybe today there are any number of books told from a warped point of view, but few did it back in the mid-1950's and one can only imagine what it was like back then coming across one of Thompson's books and not knowing what you were getting into. The cover blurb about "twisted lives and tormented loves" doesn't really give an inkling about where this thin volume takes the reader. Enjoy.
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on December 20, 2012
Loved this but the ending somehow lost
something. But I still love those slightly psycho
lead characters of his. They are the first heroes
I have ever truly found believable. There is this
madness operating underneath. I think
that's just about it.
Lousy title though. Very Raymond Chandlerish
which makes me susect it was forced on Thompson.
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