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Jim Thompson Books In Order

Publication Order of Standalone Novels

Now and On Earth (1942) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Heed the Thunder (1946) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Nothing More Than Murder (1949) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Cropper's Cabin (1952) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Killer Inside Me (1952) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Criminal (1953) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Alcoholics (1953) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Recoil (1953) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Savage Night (1953) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Golden Gizmo (1954) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Nothing Man (1954) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
A Swell-Looking Babe (1954) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
A Hell of a Woman (1954) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Roughneck (1954) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
After Dark, My Sweet (1955) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Kill-Off (1957) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Wild Town (1957) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Getaway (1959) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Transgressors (1961) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Grifters (1963) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Pop. 1280 (1964) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Texas By The Tail (1965) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
South of Heaven (1967) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Ironside (1967) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Undefeated (1969) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Nothing But A Man (1970) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Child of Rage (1972) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
King Blood (1973) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Rip-Off (1987) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Jim Thompson was an American author and screenwriter famously known for his hardboiled crime fiction. He wrote more than 30 books majority of which were original paperback. Despite gaining positive critics notably by Anthony Boucher, he was little recognized in his lifetime. He was born in Anadarko, Oklahoma and began writing at an early age. Few of his short story pieces were published in his mid-teens. He was bright and well-read but had little regard informal education. For two years during prohibition in Texas, Thomson worked as a ballboy during the nights while attending school in the day.

In the first few days of the World War II, he worked at an aircraft factory where the FBI often investigated him due to his early connection with the Communist Party. These events formed a foundation of his semi-autobiographical book, Now And On Earth published in 1942. The book featured little crime and violence that later filled his writing, and even though it was positively reviewed, the book was poorly sold. His second book was Heed The Thunder (1946) detailing a twisted and vicious Nebraska family, partly inspired by his extended clan. When these two books generated little attention, Thompson switched to the more lucrative but less prestigious crime fiction genre. To support his family while writing books, he took a job as a reporter with the Los Angeles Mirror, owned by the Los Angeles Times.

Two of Jim Thompson books have been adapted into movies. The Getaway (1959) was adapted into a 1972 American crime film starring, Ali MacGraw, Steve McQueen, Slim Pickens and Jack Dodson. The Grifters published in 1963 was adapted into 1990 American crime drama film starring Annette Bening, John Cusack, and Anjelica Huston, directed by Stephen Frears and produced by Martin Scorsese.

The Killer Inside Me (1952) was adapted in a 1976 movie directed by Burt Kennedy starring Tisha Sterling, Susan Tyrrell, and Stacy Keach. The book was also opted for a second adaptation and made into a 2010 crime drama film directed by Michael Winterbottom and starring Kate Hudson, Casey Affleck, and Jessica Alba. At its release, the 2010 film version was criticized for its graphic depiction of violence especially towards women.

The Killer Inside Me (1952)

The Killer Inside Me is considered one of the few books that need no introduction at all- it is and will always remain one of the best classics of American noir fiction. It’s been adapted into two films (1976 and 2010), and the chances are that, if you have not read the books you have at least seen the movie.

The book is narrated in first person perspective by Sheriff Deputy Lou Ford, who to the townspeople seems to be an amiable, likable but somewhat dumb individual. This carefully cultivated fake outward mask masks a monster entirely lacking empathy for his fellow man or any normal emotions that humans associate with what is to be a human being.

As a teenager, Ford smacks a young girl and is caught by his older stepbrother, who for some unexplained reasons takes the blame and is sent to prison. Upon his release, Ford’s brother gets a job in the construction industry but is killed on the job under mysterious circumstances. Ford blames the company owner, Chester Conway for the death of his brother and takes revenge by killing Conway’s beloved son.

Throughout this narrative, Ford justifies his killing of Conway and other victims by claiming that the deaths of his victims were unavoidable and somehow as a result of self-defense. However, at one point through his inner thoughts, Ford admits that he kills because he likes it. It’s no doubt that Ford is a psychopath, and far from the dumb person that his townsfolk think him to be- he is knowledgeable. His murderous act is carefully planned and ruthlessly executed. Everything starts to unfold when Ford discovers that there may be one witness who could bring down his carefully crafted “house of cards” smashing down.

If you are the kind of reader who indeed wonders what runs through the mind of a serial killer, then The Killer Inside Me by Jim Thompson is the novel you should read.

The Grifters (1963)

Adapted into a 1990 American Crime Drama movie, The Grifters introduces three characters. First, there is Roy Dillon, a 25 year old intelligent savvy and a small-time con artist with more mother issues that Norman Bates- a fictional character in Bates Motels TV series. Roy is a successful cons operator who suffers a major blow at the beginning of the story when a mark detects his scam acts and gives him what for in the belly with a massive club.

Then there is Roy mother, Lilly Dillon aged 39, (she had Roy at age 14) who’s been swindling longer than Roy’s been breathing. She works for a big-time mobster- Bobo Justus where she travels to horse race events and places bets on for the big gambling cartels to bring the odds down.

Finally, there is Moira Langtry, Roy’s older lover who bears some resemblance to Roy’s mother and somehow a shitty person in her right. She used to work as a long con for big money and is now searching for a new partner. In the meantime, she survives by trading sex for food, rent, drinks, and other items.

These three come together when Roy’s stomach troubles turn out to be rather a serious issue that gets him hospitalized. Enter Carol’s world- a part-time nurse at the hospital where Roy is hospitalized. She is kind, gentle, generous, beautiful, naïve but keeps a painfully dark secret. She proves to be a chunk of wood between mother and son with Moiry at the corner with some lemon juice and jar of salt for cleanup.

What makes The Grifters unique is the fact that the author manages to keep the readers always on the edge of “feeling something” for his characters. The characterization is brilliantly done. Roy is a scarred character affected and damaged by an upbringing with his mother, Lily. But there are shreds of a good man still inside him, a man who wants to live a healthy life. The Grifters is one of the best books ever written about the art of the con; it is a well-crafted story of betrayal and deception and a basis for Martin Scorsese and Stephen Frears acclaimed movie by the same name.

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