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Jim Thompson Books In Order

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Publication Order of Standalone Novels

Now and on Earth (1942)Description / Buy at Amazon
Heed the Thunder (1946)Description / Buy at Amazon
Nothing More Than Murder / Murder at the Bijou (1949)Description / Buy at Amazon
Cropper's Cabin / Sharecropper Hell (1952)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Killer Inside Me (1952)Description / Buy at Amazon
Bad Boy (1953)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Criminal (1953)Description / Buy at Amazon
Recoil (1953)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Alcoholics (1953)Description / Buy at Amazon
Savage Night (1953)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Golden Gizmo (1954)Description / Buy at Amazon
A Swell-Looking Babe (1954)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Nothing Man (1954)Description / Buy at Amazon
A Hell of a Woman (1954)Description / Buy at Amazon
Roughneck (1954)Description / Buy at Amazon
King Blood (1954)Description / Buy at Amazon
After Dark, My Sweet (1955)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Kill-Off (1957)Description / Buy at Amazon
Wild Town (1957)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Getaway (1958)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Transgressors (1961)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Grifters (1963)Description / Buy at Amazon
Pop. 1280 (1964)Description / Buy at Amazon
Texas by the Tail (1965)Description / Buy at Amazon
South of Heaven (1967)Description / Buy at Amazon
Ironside (1967)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Undefeated (1969)Description / Buy at Amazon
Nothing But a Man (1970)Description / Buy at Amazon
Child of Rage (1972)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Cellini Chalice (1988)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Rip-Off (1989)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Collections

ireworks: The Lost Writings (1988)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Anthologies

City Sleuths and Tough Guys(1989)Description / Buy at Amazon
Murder Plus(1992)Description / Buy at Amazon
First Fiction: An Anthology of the First Published Stories by Famous Writers(1994)Description / Buy at Amazon
Pulp Frictions: Hardboiled Stories(1996)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Mammoth Encyclopedia of Modern Crime Fiction(2002)Description / Buy at Amazon
Robots(2008)Description / Buy at Amazon

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.

Book Series In Order » Authors » Jim Thompson

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