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Pop. 1280 Paperback – October 3, 1990

97 customer reviews

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Paperback, October 3, 1990
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Editorial Reviews


WWW.TANGLED-WEB.CO.UK featured a review of POP. 1280 on their site from the 21st March 03. This included a summary of the plot. WRITER'S JOURNAL will be publishing a large feature on Jim Thompson and will be mentioning our new titl --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Inside Flap

As high sheriff of Potts County, Nick Corey spends most of his time eating, sleeping and avoiding trouble. If only people--especially some troublesome pimps, his foul-tempered wife, and his half-witted brother-in-law--would stop pushing him around. Because when Nick is pushed, he begins to kill . . . or to make others do his killing for him!

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 217 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage (October 3, 1990)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679732497
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679732495
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.5 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (97 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #509,210 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

52 of 52 people found the following review helpful By Untouchable on September 8, 2002
Format: Paperback
It would appear at the start of this book that Nick Corey, the sheriff of the town of Pottsville, is to be the hero of the story. He seems like a gentle, somewhat simple man who believes that inaction is always the most prudent course of action. He feels it "just wouldn't seem right" to have to arrest people, so generally, he doesn't. But slowly it began to dawn on me that this is a Jim Thompson book and there simply aren't heroes in his books.
It turns out that Nick Corey is quite similar to another Jim Thompson character, Lou Ford from The Killer Inside Me. In fact, it's worthwhile reading both books to compare these two characters. They are so different, yet incredibly similar.
The chilling thing about this book lies in how deeply convinced everyone is that Nick is a simpleton who is a harmless, lazy man. But the truth is apparent to the reader how rat-cunning he actually is. The desire to be re-elected to his post as sheriff drives his day-to-day activity and everyone underestimates just how far he'll go to ensure his re-election, myself included.
Apart from the sinister actions of Nick Corey, the story is actually quite amusing, told in the first person in a light and witty tone of voice. Nick manages to put an amusing spin on all aspects of his day-to-day life, most especially the parts in which he's doing absolutely nothing at all.
This is a typical Jim Thompson story. There are no heroes, as a matter of fact; there are few, if any, likable characters in the book. The main character narrates in a style that feels as though he's saying: here are the facts, make of them what you will. It's a chiller rather than a mystery and events took me by surprise more than once.
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26 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Westley VINE VOICE on October 6, 2002
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
POP. 1280 is in the tradition of other great Thompson books, such as THE KILLER INSIDE ME. The protagonist is a seemingly respectable, law-abiding citizen -- small-town Southern sheriff, Nick Corey. He's been pushed around by his wife, brother-in-law, and most other town folks. In the beginning it's clear that Corey has been a very passive sheriff, and his anger at being considered weak is building. The book chronicles how he slowly and dramatically strikes back. Corey's much smarter than most of the town thinks, but he's also probably delusional, which is what ultimately makes this book such a black comic gem. There are more laugh-out loud moments in this book than in most Thompson books. The plot depends on a number of coincidences and stretches of logic, but it's great fun and there are some truly great surprises along the way. Overall, I think it's one of Thompson's most enjoyable and funny books, with some memorable moments and characters.
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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful By High Duke on August 22, 2004
Format: Paperback
I wonder if Jim Thompson has ever been declared the master of crime novel fiction? If he hasn't, then he certainly gets my vote! No one writes tales that are more cynical, more twisted or more accurate in their perceptions of human depravity. You can have Chandler, Cain, Ellroy, Hammett and all the rest. Thompson tops them all. The most unique thing about Thompson's novels is that he really has no moral center in any of them. In fact, in this book, he even puts you in the shoes of the despicable main character. The novel concerns a bumbling sheriff in a small Southern town, who seems to be a spineless coward and a lazy lay-about. All is not as it seems however, as the sheriff proves to be much more intelligent than anyone would dream of giving him credit for. Thompson mined similar terrain in his book 'The Killer inside Me', but this novel actually tops that one in terms of nastiness and its vitriolic view of human nature. There are a few elements in Thompson's book that strike me as unique. One is his pessimistic misanthropy which takes things a step further from the previous generations of crime novelists. There are no private investigators with a heart of gold here. Another is his dismantling of the idea of America's heartland as being this place of good souls and kind neighbourliness. Thompson was from Oklahoma and, as he knows the surrounding areas intimately, his novels seem to take place in the American South and Southwest. He exposes it as a place that's even MORE corrupt than in the big cities. Chandler, Cain and a lot of other writers usually focused on places like New York and L.A. as the pillars of American decadence. Thompson points out that the WHOLE of America is a swirling cesspool of self-interested swindlers and the only thing that varies is scale.Read more ›
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 10, 2001
Format: Paperback
I've read a lot of Thompson, and he really does have quite a few good ones under his belt, but this is far and away the crown jewel. It's The Killer Inside Me elevated to an entirely different level. Thompson tried his hand at crime fiction, depression-era social commentary, comedy and a host of other genres, and he seems to have combined everything he ever learned as a writer into the incredibly well-written, funny, shocking, economical Pop. 1280. Allright, it's a frickin masterpiece. It tempts one to use phrases like "one of the great achievements of 20th centurey American literature." It will, of course, never be regarded as such due to the modest circumstances under which Thompson wrote and was published, and the book itself is quite modest. Like it's main character and narrator, it presents itself as affable, charming but goofy, of no great consequence, lulls you, and then wallops you with the fact of how remarkable it is. Nonetheless, I honestly think this should be up there with Faulkner, et. al. when academics make their lists of the high points of American Modernism (or whatever).
Plotting isn't usually Thompson's strong suit, but Pop. 1280 is incredibly polished. Revelations that come later in the book are shocking, but on subsequent readings (which are well-deserved) it's obvious that they were being given away from the beginning. It's always quite an achievement when a writer manages this, and it's done perfectly here, and using a first-person narration.
Nick Corey is one of the most distinctive narrative voices I've ever read, and few writers have created a character more likeable, funny or disturbing.
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