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William "Kid" Collins was once a respected boxer. Now he's a drifter, on the run after escaping from a mental institution.One afternoon he meets Fay, a beautiful young widow. She is smart and decent--at least when she's sober. Soon Collins finds himself involved in a kidnapping scheme that goes drastically wrong almost before it even begins. Because the kid they've picked up isn't like other kids: he's diabetic and without insulin, he'll die. Not the safest situation for Collins, a man for whom stress and violence have long gone hand-in-hand.After Dark, My Sweet once again displays Jim Thompson as the undisputed master of American noir. The basis of James Foley's critically acclaimed film of the same name, with the sweep of an epic tragedy, Thompson's classic limns the dangerous territory of honest people all-too-easily sucked into wickedness, with no way out but down.
Dr. Peter S. Murphy needs fifteen thousand dollars by the end of the day, or the city of Los Angeles can say goodbye to the El Healtho clinic. A recovery center for the most severe cases of alcoholism in the state--even if no one ever does quite seem to get dry there--El Healtho has been the bane of Dr. Murphy's existence ever since he started running it. But now that its doors are about to close forever, Dr. Murphy finds he'll do anything to keep it open.Up to and including admitting Humphrey Van Twyne III, a patient with an extremely violent past whose wealthy family has the means to keep El Healtho open for business. Sure, the man isn't exactly an alcoholic. And yes, what he really needs is to be under the care of the surgeons who performed the lobotomy that's rendered Van Twyne all but a vegetable. But the money's good--until the rag-tag group of ne'er-do-wells at El Healtho begin to wreak havoc with Dr. Murphy's plans, and suddenly no one day has ever seemed so long.A literary precursor to One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, THE ALCOHOLICS is Thompson like you've never read him before, a pitch-black, mad-cap portrait of deviant behavior that is at once darkly comic, humane and harrowing.
From the beginning, Jim Thompson knew he was going to catch hell no matter what he did. And during a childhood spent at the mercy of a father whose schemes put him on the wrong side of the law as often as the right, and a grandfather who knew the bad parts of town like the back of his hand, young Jim learned sin better than any writer had before.From his rabble-rousing adolescence in the American Midwest, to wasted teenage years in the seedy underbelly of the hotel industry, to Thompson's chilling encounter with the real-life inspiration of THE KILLER INSIDE ME, BAD BOY offers a fascinating glimpse at the formative years of the man who would become one of the most famous authors of modern American Noir, in the autobiography-as-novel that follows the birth of the legend himself in the signature style Thompson made famous.
Everyone in Kenton Hills knows that short-tempered, tongue-tied Bob Talbert wasn't the one responsible for the brutal crime that ended Josie Eddleman's life. Nevermind that he was the last one to see her alive. But in a town filled with the likes of an amoral tabloid reporter known only as The Captain, a district attorney who'll do anything for a confession, and Bob's parents, who care as little for Bob as they do for each other, guilt and innocence are little more than a matter of perspective.In a masterfully woven tapestry of multiple points of view, THE CRIMINAL explores the nature of guilt and responsibility in a psychological thriller of an entire town under the spell of an act of brutal violence. Jim Thompson unlike you're ever read him before.
Tommy Carver may be every inch the angry, rebellious young man his teachers and parents accuse him of being. But sometimes, there are reasons for a fury like Tommy's. Tommy's relationship with Donna, the daughter of a man he hates almost as much as his own father, has led to more outbursts than anything else in Tommy's firecracker existence. With her unearthly beauty and a passion that rivals Tommy's own, he couldn't help but fall for her. But as everybody knows, the stories of star-crossed lovers never have happy endings--especially not with explosive parties like these.CROPPER'S CABIN is Jim Thompson's hair-raising thriller of what no writer has known better before or since--the hardscrabble existence of small-town American lives set to blow.
Doc McCoy is the most skilled criminal alive. But when for the first time in Doc's long criminal career, his shot doesn't hit the mark, everything begins to fall apart. And Doc begins to realize that the perfect bank robbery isn't complete without the perfect getaway to back it up.THE GETAWAY is the classic story of a bank robbery gone horribly wrong, where the smallest mistakes have catastrophic consequences, and shifting loyalties lead to betrayals and chaos. The basis for the classic Steve McQueen film of the same name, as well as a 1994 remake with Alec Baldwin, Thompson's novel set the bar for every heist story that followed--but as Thompson's proved time and again, nobody's ever done it better than the master.
"Gizmo" is the GI term for the unidentifiable--and that's the way that Toddy Kent has begun to think of the reasons behind the rapid swing of his days. Somehow, Kent seems always to find himself regularly confronted with The Big Break every man would kill for--only to see it slip through his fingers.Kent's grinding out a paycheck buying gold on the cheap and selling it for the slimmest of profits when he stumbles into his latest, almost mythical discovery--pure, unadulterated gold in the form of a priceless watch he didn't exactly mean to steal.Soon Kent finds himself at the center of a whirlwind of danger involving everyone from the woman he can't seem to shake, bail bondsmen who get word of Kent's discovery, the Treasury Department, his pawnbroker, and a devious old man with a dog that may or may not be able to speak English, in a rip-roaring comedy of errors and would-you-believe-it bad luck unlike anything you've ever read.Who ever knew one lousy watch could bring so much trouble? And how many times can Kent avoid getting killed before his luck runs out for good?
To his friends, to his coworkers, and even to his mistress Moira, Roy Dillon is an honest hardworking salesman. He lives in a cheap hotel just within his pay bracket. He goes to work every day. He has hundreds of friends and associates who could attest to his good character.Yet, hidden behind three gaudy clown paintings in Roy's pallid hotel room, sits fifty-two thousand dollars--the money Roy makes from his short cons, his "grifting." For years, Roy has effortlessly maintained control over his house-of-cards life--until the simplest con goes wrong, and he finds himself critically injured and at the mercy of the most dangerous woman he ever met: his own mother.THE GRIFTERS, one of the best novels ever written about the art of the con, is an ingeniously crafted story of deception and betrayal that was the basis for Stephen Frears' and Martin Scorsese's critically-acclaimed film of the same name.
In the rural town of Verdon, Nebraska, in the early days of the 20th century, you can't go ten feet without running into one of the Fargos. So, Grant Fargo argues to his grandfather Lincoln, it's perfectly all right that he's desperately in love with his first cousin, Bella-she's the only source of intelligent conversation for miles, and in a town like Verdon, it would be hard not to end up with a relative of one kind or another.Before it all plays out, men will be murdered, jailed, tarred and feathered or worse, and while everyone in the Fargo clan would kill for the family deeds, God might just end up with them instead. In HEED THE THUNDER, one of Thompson's earlier works, Thompson's signature style collides with a sweeping picaresque of the American prairie, in a multigenerational saga that's one part Steinbeck, two parts Dostoyevsky, and all Jim Thompson.
Frank "Dolly" Dillon has a job he hates, working sales and collections for Pay-E-Zee Stores, a wife named Joyce he can't stand, and an account balance that barely allows him to pay the bills each month. Working door-to-door one day, trying to eke money out of folk with even less of it than he has, Dolly crosses paths with a beautiful young woman named Mona Farrell. Mona's being forced by her aunt to do things she doesn't like, with men she doesn't know--she wants out, any way she can get it. And to a man who wants nothing of what he has, Mona sure looks like something he actually does.Soon Dolly and Mona find themselves involved in a scheme of robbery, murder and mayhem that makes Dolly's blood run cold. As Dolly's plans begin to unravel, his mind soon follows.In A HELL OF A WOMAN, Jim Thompson offers another arresting portrait of a deviant mind, in an ambitious crime novel that ranks among his best work.
Luane Devore's days are numbered. All her neighbors in the declining seaside resort town of Manduwoc want her dead. Some, like her young husband Ralph and his girlfriend Danny, want the thousands of dollars she keeps hidden under the mattress she spends her days resting on. Others want her to stop her malicious gossip--some of which could ruin lives.Told from multiple perspectives, The Kill-Off tells the story of a woman not long for this earth--but who will finally take matters into their own hands, and when? THE KILL-OFF was the basis of Maggie Greenwald's critically acclaimed film of the same name.
Everyone in the small town of Central City, Texas loves Lou Ford. A deputy sheriff, Lou's known to the small-time criminals, the real-estate entrepreneurs, and all of his coworkers--the low-lifes, the big-timers, and everyone in-between--as the nicest guy around. He may not be the brightest or the most interesting man in town, but nevertheless, he's the kind of officer you're happy to have keeping your streets safe. The sort of man you might even wish your daughter would end up with someday.But behind the platitudes and glad-handing lurks a monster the likes of which few have seen. An urge that has already claimed multiple lives, and cost Lou his brother Mike, a self-sacrificing construction worker fell to his death on the job in what was anything but an accident. A murder that Lou is determined to avenge--and if innocent people have to die in the process, well, that's perfectly all right with him. In THE KILLER INSIDE ME, Thompson goes where few novelists have dared to go, giving us a pitch-black glimpse into the mind of the American Serial Killer years before Charles Manson, John Wayne Gacy, and Brett Easton Ellis's American Psycho, in the novel that will forever be known as the master performance of one of the greatest crime novelists of all time.
War changed Clinton Brown. Permanently disfigured by a tragic military accident, he's struggling to find satisfaction from life as a rewrite man for Pacific City's Courier. Shame has led him to isolate himself from closest friends and even his estranged, still faithfully devoted wife, Ellen. Only the bottle keeps him company.But now Ellen has returned to Pacific City, and she's ready to do whatever it takes to get Brown back. Even if it means exposing his deepest secret ... a painful truth Brown would do anything to stop from coming to light. He'd kill a whole lot of people just to keep this one thing quiet--and soon enough, the bodies just happen to start piling up around him...THE NOTHING MAN is Thompson at his most psychologically astute, in a deeply suspenseful and tragic portrait of one man's journey through the dark side of the Postwar Boom.
Joe Wilmot can't stand his wife Elizabeth. But he sure loves her movie theater. It's a modest establishment in a beat-down town--but Joe has the run of the place, and inside its walls, he's king. Without the theater, he'd be sunk. Without his leadership, the theater would close in a heartbeat. If it isn't the life Joe imagined for himself, at the very least, it's livable.Everything changes when Joe falls for the housemaid Carol, and the two can't keep it a secret from Elizabeth. Elizabeth won't leave Joe the theater unless he provides for her...but he's put all his money into the show house.Carol and Joe's only hope is the life insurance policies they've taken out on each other. If one of them were to be presumed dead, they'd have more than enough money to solve all their problems...No one knows murder better than Jim Thompson and in this incisive foray into the dark dealings of the mid-20th century movie industry, he doesn't disappoint, in the riveting story of a love triangle gone horribly wrong, and just how far one man will go to hold on to a desperate dream.
San Diego in the years before World War II. James Dillon is barely scraping by working a menial job in manufacturing, trying to raise a family and support his elderly mother and sister Frankie at the same time. He drinks too hard--just like his father and nearly everyone in his extended family. With so many people crammed into one home, sometimes there's so much fighting he can barely stand it. But if James can survive the chaos of everyday life long enough, maybe--just maybe--there's a chance it'll all get better.NOW AND ON EARTH, Jim Thompson's first novel, draws on personal experience to depict a hardscrabble life in the sun-soaked streets of mid-20th century California. Chronicling the birth of a writer and the plight of the working man, it prefigures the American classics that followed, in a deeply-felt, autobiographical tale that shows a writer just coming into his own.
Nick Corey is a terrible sheriff on purpose. He doesn't solve problems, enforce rules or arrest criminals. He knows that nobody in tiny Potts County actually wants to follow the law and he is perfectly content lazing about, eating five meals a day, and sleeping with all the eligible women.Still, Nick has some very complex problems to deal with. Two local pimps have been sassing him, ruining his already tattered reputation. His girlfriend Rose is being terrorized by her husband. And then, there's his wife and her brother Lenny who won't stop troubling Nick's already stressed mind. Are they a little too close for a brother and a sister? With an election coming up, Nick needs to fix his problems and fast. Because the one thing Nick does know is that he will do anything to stay sheriff. Because, as it turns out, Sheriff Nick Corey is not nearly as dumb as he seems.In Pop. 1280, widely regarded as a classic of mid-20th century crime, Thompson offers up one of his best, in a tale of lust, murder, and betrayal in the Deep South that was the basis for the critically acclaimed French film Coup de Torchon.
Patrick Cosgrove used to think he'd do anything not to be a prisoner of Sandstone State Reformatory. Fifteen years on the inside for a victimless crime, under the care of a warden whose penchant for violence is legendary--surely nothing could be worse.But when an unbelievably Samaritan act by a psychologist he's never met places Cosgrove in the care of Roland "Doc" Luther, Cosgrove's not so sure he hasn't traded the frying pan for the fire after all. On the one hand, Doc claims that Cosgrove owes him nothing, and seems at times like the most decent man alive. But at other times, Doc's potential for cruelty seems unimaginable. As it turns out, freedom's not as freeing as he thought it would be--especially when it might end up getting him killed.
Britton Rainstar never knew he could love a woman as deeply as he does Manuela Aloe and be so terrified of her at the same time. It's not just that he thinks she's out of his league. It's more that the longer he stays with her, the closer to death he seems to come. A vicious dog is somehow let loose in his hotel room. He's threatened at gunpoint by a man in a skeleton costume. And when he finally ends up in the hospital, someone pushes his wheelchair down the stairs.Nothing anything like this has ever happened to Britt before--and while Manuela's never around when the so-called "accidents" happen, neither can Britt prove she's behind the many threats on his life. Is a rival for Manuela's affections trying to chase him away? Is there more to Manuela herself than meets the eye? Whatever it is, Britt better find out fast--before whoever's after him hits their mark, and the man who never thought he'd land the ultimate girl ends up paying the ultimate price.
By the time Jim Thompson was sixteen years old, he had been a newspaper boy, a burlesque show hawker, a plumber's helper, a comedian in two-reel pictures, a night bellboy in a luxury hotel and over a dozen other occupations. By the time he was eighteen, he was driving across America in a broken-down Ford without a penny to his name and his mother and his kid sister Freddie in tow, looking for just one more paycheck to keep them all alive.A bittersweet comedy of a hard-won American life, ROUGHNECK chronicles the many jobs, near-criminal escapades, and downright unlawful grifts of the man who would become one of crime fiction's most enduring writers, in a larger-than-life literary memoir--or wildly entertaining tall tale--as only Thompson could tell it. Hard times have never sounded so good.
Jake Winroy had no looks, no education, and little else before he'd worked his way to the top of a million-dollar-a-month horse-betting ring. But when the state's latched onto his game, the feds take a bite and the lawyer fees eat away at the rest, all Jake's got left is the bottle and a beautiful wife whose every word is ugly.Jake's to be the top witness in a major case against organized crime--if he hasn't already kicked the bucket before the the trial has its day in court. But an enigmatic mafioso known only as The Man has a plan to make dead certain Jake never gets the chance to testify.The Man's hired Charlie "Little" Bigger, a hit man barely five feet tall, to infiltrate the Winroy residence as a tenant and murder Winroy in cold blood. To Little, it seems like the easiest job on Earth. Until he lays eyes on the beautiful and dangerous Fay and the Winroy's young housemaid Ruth, a woman as sensual as she is vulnerable. SAVAGE NIGHT is Jim Thompson at his most unpredictable and deeply suspenseful, in a claustrophobic thriller of one man's fractured mind.
Orphaned by a tragic accident at sixteen, Tommy Burwell's been scraping out a meager existence working dead-end jobs for years. When he and fellow nomad Four Trey Whitey get jobs working with dynamite, making way for a new pipeline across the deserted plains of Far West Texas, disaster ensues. In a matter of days, Tommy is brutally beaten and witness to an act of cold-blooded murder the law can't be bothered to investigate.When Carol, a knockout beauty, shows up looking to follow the caravan of workers, Tommy falls for her almost immediately. There aren't any jobs for women on the pipeline, but Carol knows a few things she could do for the workers to keep afloat--an arrangement that Tommy can't bear for long. As Tommy's about to find out, when you're South of Heaven, you're far from grace--and sometimes the only way out is down.
It was supposed to be only a temporary job--something to pay the bills until Dusty could get his feet back on the ground and raise enough money for medical school. After all, there's nothing wrong with being a bellboy at a respectable hotel like the Manton--that is, until she came along.Marcia Hillis. The perfect woman. Beautiful. Experienced. Older and wiser. The only woman to ever measure up to that other her--the one whose painful rejection Dusty can't quite put from his mind.But while Dusty has designs on Marcia, Marcia has an agenda of her own. One that threatens to pull the Manton inside-out, use Dusty up for all he's worth and leave him reeling and on the run, the whole world at his heels.A richly-imagined crime narrative of the Oedipal and betrayal, A SWELL-LOOKING BABE is Thompson at his very best--a cornerstone in Thompson's enduring legacy as the Dimestore Dostoyevsky of American fiction.
To everyone he's every played dice with, Mitch Corley seems like the luckiest guy around. But in truth, Corley's fast hands are the only gift fate's ever given him. He's never held down a steady job, and when it comes to women, his luck might just be the worst of all--his girlfriend and partner-in-crime Red would double-cross him in a heartbeat if she knew just how short on cash they really were. And if Red ever finds out about the wife Corley neglected to mention, there's a good chance that Corley might not survive the night.At first, Mitch was sure Texas would be the perfect place for him and Red to run their game--there are players in nearly every back room and side-street across the state and here, the pockets run just a little deeper. But Corley forgot about one thing: Texans don't forgive easily. And there's nothing they hate more than a cheater.
Deputy sheriff Tom Lord knows by now that far-west Texas is the place he'll always call home. He's spent too much time in the region's small towns to adapt to another place. And that's all right with him. What's not all right is being a deputy sheriff, where if it weren't for family misfortune, he might have been a doctor instead.Lord's got one ace-in-the-hole--the land deed that makes him the biggest landowner in the county, just as the oil companies have started to move in.When Tom's approached by Aaron McBride of Highlands Oil and Gas with a contract to set up pipelines on his property, he's more than happy to sign on the dotted line with barely more than a cursory glance at the paperwork--it just might be Lord's way out of a life he never wanted in the first place. But when Lord finds out just what that contract entailed, things start to go sour for Aaron McBride--and fast. Because in this Texas town, Lord's the law--and there's nothing more dangerous than a cop with nothing left to lose.
In trouble more often than not, guilty of assault, manslaughter, and honorably discharged from the military by the skin of his teeth, David "Bugs" McKenna can't seem to help doing the right thing at the wrong time--or the wrong thing, every chance he gets.But when he drifts his way into Ragtown, Texas, things seem to finally be turning around for Bugs. He gets his first job in years as the hotel detective of the landmark Hanlon Hotel. But now that Bugs owes deputy sheriff Lou Ford a favor, things are likely to get ugly, fast--and odds are, it'll have something to do with the bombshell wife of his Bugs' new employer... In WILD TOWN, Jim Thompson returns to the characters from THE KILLER INSIDE ME that made his reputation, in a virtuoso, multi-character portrait of how one man's life can take a turn for the worse.
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