Jim Thompson’s protagonist, deputy sheriff Lou Ford, is slow thinking and a bit on the corny side, at least, that is what he wants everyone in the small Texas town he lives in to believe. He bores people with dull platitudes so he can watch them squirm, and he gets a laugh for himself as they all get sucked into his game. Everybody sees Lou as a good guy, a good ‘ol boy, who wouldn’t hurt a fly. However, in truth, Lou is a violent psychopath with a dark history and a streak of violent behavior that he keeps in control under his regular guy facade…until he can’t.
The novel was published in 1952 when post-war America was drawn to Eisenhower, conformity and white picket fences in the suburbs. Americans were reading books like My Cousin Rachel, The Silver Chalice, and The Caine Mutiny. They weren’t in the mood for cheap paperbacks dealing with alienated, psychologically damaged killers. It’s easy to see why. Thompson’s first-person narrative forces the reader to go inside the blistering mind of a diabolically crazed killer in a way that most writers cannot even fathom. It’s a chilling, nasty, and at times hard to stomach journey. The Killer Inside Me is noir at it darkest.
This is the second novel I have read by Jim Thompson. I mistakenly told a few folks on-line The Killer Inside Me was my first. Writing this review reminded me I wrote an article, a few years back, on the film version of After Dark, My Sweet, and at that time had read the book. Okay, that’s about it for true confessions. 🙂 I have attached a link to the After Dark, My Sweet article here if you are interested.