A 1001 MIDNIGHTS Review
by Bill Crider:

JIM THOMPSON – The Killer Inside Me. Lion #99, paperback original, 1952. Reprinted many times since. Film: Warner Bros., 1976; with Stacy Keach, Susan Tyrrell, Tisha Sterling, Keenan Wynn; director: Burt Kennedy.

JIM THOMPSON - Killer Inside Me

   The back cover of this paperback original has the following statement from the publishers: “We believe that this work of American fiction is the most authentically original novel of the year. The Killer Inside Me is Lion Books’ nomination for the National Book Award of 1952.”

   Lion was not a major publisher, even in the paperback field, and their novel had little chance to win. But there are those who believe it should have, because Thompson’s book is one of the most powerful and frightening looks into a madman’s mind that has ever been written.

   Lou Ford, the narrator, is a deputy sheriff in a small west Texas town. He is a “good old boy,” well liked by everyone. He is also a psychopathic killer. Two men in one body, trapped by “the sickness,” he is set off on his trail of murder by a prostitute. Before he is done, he has killed or caused the death of everyone he cares for.

   It takes a tough mind and a strong stomach to read this book, but the amazing thing about it is that Thompson manages to make his monster sympathetic, and that the sympathy comes from understanding. The reader is made to feel what it must be like to be Lou Ford, and the tortured violence of the book clearly reflects the tortured nature of Ford’s soul.

   One thing that can be said about few books can be said with certainty about The Killer Inside Me: No one who reads it will ever forget it.

   Reprinted with permission from 1001 Midnights, edited by Bill Pronzini & Marcia Muller and published by The Battered Silicon Dispatch Box, 2007.   Copyright © 1986, 2007 by the Pronzini-Muller Family Trust.