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The Killer Inside Me Paperback – March 13, 1991


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 244 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage Crime/Black Lizard; 1st edition (March 13, 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679733973
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679733973
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.7 x 7.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (146 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #661,188 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

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

"Jim Thompson is the best suspense writer going, bar none." --The New York Times

From the Inside Flap

Lou Ford is the deputy sheriff of a small town in Texas.  The worst thing most people can say against him is that he's a little slow and a little boring.  But, then, most people don't know about the sickness--the sickness that almost got Lou put away when he was younger.  The sickness that is about to surface again.

An underground classic since its publication in 1952, The Killer Inside Me is the book that made Jim Thompson's name synonymous with the roman noir.

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Customer Reviews

That's right, he makes us feel empathy for Lou.
Nathan Tyree
Jim Thompson is a master of noir hard boiled crime fiction, and his writing is being rediscovered by a whole new generation of readers.
D. Scott
The story is told in the first-person narrative which heavily influences the suspense of the story.
Brandon Taper

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

107 of 114 people found the following review helpful By Brandon Taper on May 7, 2000
Format: Paperback
Jim Thomson, in my case, seemed to come out of nowhere. I don't know for what reason and I don't know why now .. but I also don't think I want to know. In hindsight, I'd like to think it was fate.
I remember sitting down in one of the bookstore's aisles, (mystery I suppose), trying to make the decision between purchasing Norman Mailer's most recent "opus" and Tom Wolfe's latest "era-defining novel," when something caught my eye. It was a flash of color, a bright shade of orange, which actually turned out to be the spine of a book. It was then that I read the title: "The Killer Inside Me." The title intrigued me even more and in a matter of seconds I placed both of the novels I had been holding on the shelf and took this short 'surprise' with me to the cashier.
Two days later, I had finished one of the most enjoyable, thought-provoking 'genre-books' I had ever read.
The story is told in the first-person narrative which heavily influences the suspense of the story. The main character is Lou Ford, a deputy sheriff in a small, middle-of-nowhere Texas town of Central City. The thing with Lou is that he is a sociopath...and more importantly, he knows he is a sociopath. To hide this "sickness", as he puts it, that he's carried with him since childhood, he makes himself appear bland, dim-witted, and his conversations are drowned in cliches. However, this sickness that Lou has tried so desperately to hide is about to resurface again, and the aftermath of this explosion inside him isn't very pretty.
The course of the novel is one that would better serve the reader if left unsaid by a reviewer such as myself, so I feel this is all I will reveal of the book's content.
I will leave you with this.
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71 of 81 people found the following review helpful By Nathan Tyree on April 2, 2006
Format: Paperback
Jim Thompson may well have been one of the most filmic writers ever to work. His books have inspired quite a number of films including Grifters, The Getaway, The Getaway (yes, I said it twice. It's been filmed twice. Once wonderfully with Steve McQueen and Allie McGraw, once terribly with Alec Baldwin and Kim Bassinger), Coup de Torchon, After Dark, My Sweet and to some extent From Dusk Till Dawn. He also wrote the screenplay for Stanley Kubrick's film Paths of Glory.

Thompson worked in a well worn genre. He walked the same fields as James M. Cain, Dashiel Hammet, and more recently, Elmore Leonard. Thompson wrote real tough guy fiction. In the pages of his books bad men do bad things, and are often undone by bad women (or sometimes unlucky women).

To clarify, Thompson wrote Noir. These are bedtime stories for the criminally insane. Thompson's work will appeal to people who enjoy Chinatown, The Big Sleep, American Psycho, and gritty stories that take place in dark alleys, and rain swept streets. His novels are best read by lamplight, with a glass of Jack Daniels close at hand.

The Killer Inside Me is no exception to this rule. It is the story of Lou Ford. Lou is a cop. He's not Dirty Harry. He doesn't carry a gun, or a club. But he's no Barney Fife, Either. He's a small town deputy with a problem. Lou has a dark secret. Something in his past hangs over him like a black cloud. Most people in town consider him good natured, but dull. He's the kind of person no one ever gives a second thought to. But, he has that secret. It has something to do with an unexplained death. I'd like to say more, but I don't want to give it away.

Lou has a girlfriend. She's a local girl next door type. She's a real good girl (and in this type of story, that spells trouble).
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46 of 53 people found the following review helpful By E. Lee Zimmerman TOP 1000 REVIEWER on June 30, 2002
Format: Paperback
While some of the impact of this tale has tempered in time (it was originally published in 1952), the stark brutality of the narrator draws you in slowly ... and the novel's first 150 pages are relatively slow-paced ... until the reader comes to the full realization that Officer Lou Ford isn't committing the acts of violence that he does out of any other need than to feed the killer inside him.
The last forty to fifty pages of this book are captivatingly brilliant prose -- arguably the best by Mr. Thompson -- and should be carefully read (if not reread) by serious fans of mystery or noir as well as budding mystery, thriller, and suspense writers. They serve not only as a character study into the mind of a madman who finally understand what he is but also give a definitive explanation into why the narrator will never accept what he's done (the people he's killed, those he's punished, etc.) as being morally wrong.
All in all, it's one damn fascinating character study that takes a while to get going ... but, once it does, it's one wild ride.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Michael G. VINE VOICE on July 27, 2006
Format: Paperback
Central City in West Texas is the place where this unusual first person narrative unfolds. Lou Ford, one of Jim Thompson's most recognizable characters, is a deputy sheriff and to all who know him he's a dull-witted, amiable guy, ill suited for a career in law enforcement because he's just too gentle. Ford himself uses the term "rube" to describe his own station in life.

Of course that is the exact opposite of reality. Ford is not dull-witted. He's a highly intelligent individual who likes to solve calculus problems for relaxation. And the amiable, gentle part is also just an act. The truth is there's a callous homicidal maniac lurking under that very thin veneer of artificial friendliness.

The Killer Inside Me is an extremely unsettling novel. Thompson has Lou Ford freely reveal his homicidal thoughts to the reader, while the other characters, at least most of them, are completely taken in by his hayseed demeanor and his aw shucks way of speaking.

This book is a masterful example of how a talented author has it within his or her power to manipulate readers at a very visceral level. A classic of American fiction.
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