Jim Thompson, Author Dutton Books $17.95 (416p) ISBN 978-1-55611-001-6
Thompson (1906-1977) published 29 paperback novels, all originals, in the 1940s and '50s. He also wrote TV scripts ( Dr. Kildare and co-authored screenplays for Kubrick's The Killing and Paths of Glory. The three books here, long out of print, may revive interest in this master of the anti-hero, tough-guy genre. The Kill-Off (1957) is a tour de force, narrated by a dozen characters, about the murder of a hated elderly female hypochondriac. Each voice moves the plot and the reader's perceptions, and even the ending has a nice spin on it. The Nothing Man (1954) is the self-told tale, maybe, of a multiple murderer. Unfortunately, the story is occasionally over-written, and the ending is disastrously sentimental. Also sentimental, rambling and nowhere near a novel is Bad Boy, about Thompson's first 20 years. With Thorp's rather testy introduction, though, it gives us interesting details of Thompson's life. Despite Thorp's high claims for the author's oeuvre, the evidence here ranks Thompson below Hammett and Chandler, if only just below. The Kill-Off, however, deserves reprinting and even re-reading. (November 1)
Reviewed on: 10/28/1986
Release date: 11/01/1986
Genre: Fiction
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