The Killer Inside Me

by Jim Thompson

Paperback, 1991




New York : Vintage Books, 1991.


Deputy Sheriff Lou Ford is a pillar of the community in his small Texas town, patient and apparently thoughtful. Some people think he's a little slow and maybe boring, but that's the worst they say about him. But then nobody knows about what Lou calls his 'sickness'. It nearly got him put away when he was younger, but his adopted brother took the rap for that. But now the sickness that has been lying dormant for a while is about to surface again and the consequences are brutal and devastating. Tense and suspenseful, THE KILLER INSIDE ME is a brilliantly sustained masterpiece of the roman noir.

User reviews

LibraryThing member schatzi
I don't know how I managed to read so many books about fictional serial killers without ever hearing about Jim Thompson until now. This book is a classic, and for good reason: this is one of the first books of its kind. Jim Thompson was wading into mostly unexplored waters when he authored this
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Today, with Hannibal Lecter and Dexter Morgan and other well-known fictional sociopaths, readers might find this book rather simplistic and dated. Probably hindered by the time's sensibilities, Thompson doesn't go into gory detail, which does make things a bit confusing at times. But I thought the book was well-worth sticking with, especially after about page 70, when the story really started to grow on me.

I won't say much about the plot, since I don't want to spoil anyone. The main character, Lou Ford, is a small-town sheriff's deputy who has a dark secret that has been lying dormant inside of him for years. But now, having the chance for revenge, he acts upon the "sickness" that he has kept hidden from the world for so long, which makes his carefully-constructed world start to unravel. I usually guess endings pretty easily, but I didn't guess this one (perhaps I should have, but I was just so caught up in wondering whether Lou would get away with his crimes or not).

I'd recommend this to anyone who likes fiction about serial killers.
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LibraryThing member RRbob
Jim Thompson's rough life in small towns gives him the perfect platform to write this book. “The Killer Inside Me” is filled with enough psychological drama, creepy people, losers, and criminals to satisfy anyone who enjoys a well spun tale. The plot is complex but easy to follow allowing the
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reader to form attachments to characters and a stake in the outcome. This is a great book.
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LibraryThing member Miro
Deputy sheriff Lou Ford actually is a nice successful person. He's not fooling anybody. But sometimes he has a psychological need to torment and kill which he does in a calculating matter of fact sort of way. Hannibal Lecter has nothing on this character and its the best crime novel I've ever read.
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It's got a frightening realism that's missing from Lehane's Shutter Island or Harris's Silence of the Lambs and the way small town social judgements protect him right to the end is completely convincing.
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LibraryThing member jimmydare
The best Jim Thompson book, and one of the best pulp's I've ever read.
LibraryThing member ecw0647
Killer Inside Me by Jim Thompson describes the obsession of a small-town deputy sheriff. He is beloved by the community for his uncommon ability to calm violent prisoners. Told in the first-person, we soon learn of the narrator's dark past and even more foreboding future.
LibraryThing member AlCracka
Seems worth adding to my upcoming noir segment. S'posed to be the darkest of the noir writers or something.
LibraryThing member datrappert
Like most of Thompson's books, this one is a real downer, but watching this bad sheriff's deputy as he goes his merry way is certainly compelling. Even his indisputable intelligence can't humanize him in light of the cold-blooded way he treats others. Certainly one of the essential noir
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experiences, but not an altogether pleasant one.
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LibraryThing member sturlington
An early first-person account of a serial-killer schizophrenic hiding inside an “aw shucks” small-town Texas sheriff’s deputy, billed as a classic of roman noir, is marred only I think by the same thing that makes it groundbreaking: the time in which it was written. This novel, with its lurid
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depictions of sexual violence, and its attempt to understand a very modern disease from the inside out, is very much ahead of its time. But because only so much can be said outright, and the rest has to be hinted at, I was often a little confused as to what exactly was going on. Still, there were scenes that I even found shocking, half a century later.
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LibraryThing member HeikeM
What a wonderful story. Much liked pillar of the community Sheriff Lou Ford is a little bit slow and boring but the people of the Texas town like him. But they don't know about the sickness that nearly got him put away when he was young. And now Lou is loosing control to the sickness again and
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nobody is there to keep an eye on him. And when too many people of the town end up dead his colleagues and friends begin to wonder.
This brilliantly written suspense story takes you into the mind of Lou so you are with him at all times and slowly come to understand his way of thinking. You start believing his logic, following his warped path of justification until you want him to succeed and come out the winner. That's what I liked most about this novel, because really you should detest this person, want him put away - I found my self agreeing with his way of reasoning way too often. Well written, fantastic story, very interesting characters.
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LibraryThing member Darrol
This is not a nice book. Indeed, I think Stanley Kubrick blurb gets it that this is a very good "first-person story of a criminally warped mind". The narrative breaks down a little near the end, and I am not sure what to make of the ending.
LibraryThing member jbrubacher
A psychopath narrates the events as those around him who've trusted him their whole lives start to understand what he is. He murders, he lies, he puts on a terrific act, but it all starts to catch up to him. And this is no Dexter Morgan. This is a killer who is really disturbing, and who is
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obviously shaped by awful events in his childhood.

The way the book is written you can see the cracks forming in his facade, and the lies he tells himself to stop himself from seeing them. You witness the way he tries to manipulate those around him, when it works and when it doesn't. Although it's not very fun to experience these things with the guy, it's very well written. Because it's so subtle it feels true. And the book ends in a way that you could interpret a few ways. Maybe he paid his dues, or maybe he won. As the psychopath might say, it all depends on where you're standing.

I wouldn't recommend this book unless you're interested in this kind of mental illness, or interested in very realistically disturbing protagonists. I'm glad I read it, but it's a difficult thing to read. It gets four stars from me because it does what it does so well.
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LibraryThing member JOSE.
A masterpiece. Short and straight to the guts and the brains. This book is a masterclass on how to explore a character's mind. Not one single line is cliched or stereotipical and it makes the character and his broken mind so much more real for that. I never felt the "hand of the author" for one
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single page. This was the main character talking to me all the way through.
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LibraryThing member cwflatt
Really good, simple book that kept drawing you in more and more into the twisted mind of a killer and he spiralled down a path of dispare trying to clean up the mess he created anlong the way and justifing every move at the right thing to do.
LibraryThing member jwhenderson
A stunning portrait of a psychopath from the psychopath's point of view. Even as the horrifying details of his "sickness" and the killing that results are narrated you somehow understand the logic of his crimes. Thompson manages to make you forget how scary this man really is.
LibraryThing member HvyMetalMG
Pretty good book and look at a killer from a different era.
LibraryThing member Magadri
This book was slow starting and didn't really hook me from the beginning. It took me over sixty pages to become engrossed, but once I became involved, it was fast reading from there. This book is incredibly disturbing. You find yourself sympathizing and agreeing with a schizophrenic murderer. The
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book was great and the way that Thompson let the events unfold in front of you, never letting you know too much at a time, was absolutely phenomenal. If you can make it through those initial chapters, trust me, you're in for a hell of a book.
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LibraryThing member BruderBane
Creepy...yeah creepy is the appropriate adjective I'm looking for to accurately describe Jim Thompson's thriller "The Killer Inside of Me." This tale resonated with me perhaps due to my closeness to someone (also a murderer) who compartmentalizes eerily similar to the antihero Lou Ford. I've
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personally witnessed many of the same logical and seemingly cogent arguments to justify horrible actions that have harmed and destroyed the lives of too many people. That Mr. Thompson was able to capture this internal dialogue so accurately was outstanding. I can't help but think that Mr. Thompson must have had some first-hand experience with victimizers. In any case, I look forward to getting another chilling novel from Mr. Thompson.
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LibraryThing member guyportman
Twenty-nine-year-old Lou Ford is a Deputy Sheriff from the West Texas town of Central City. Lou, who is in a long-term relationship with childhood sweetheart Amy Stanton, is a hard-working, trustworthy, simple character with a keenness for clichés; at least this is how he is perceived to be by his
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community. In reality Lou is a sociopath with a dark secret that he has been hiding since childhood.

The story follows the highly intelligent, manipulative and cold-blooded psychopathic killer Lou. Written from the first-person perspective, the book offers a chilling yet compelling insight into the mind of a psychopath. A deranged, deeply disturbed mind capable of meticulous, deviant planning. A mind acutely aware of its sociopathic nature and sadomasochistic tendencies, but also on occasion prone to pithy and at times humorous observations about others.

The author both engrosses and disturbs the reader through the utilisation of realistic, simple prose, a raw writing style and an engaging plot. Widely acclaimed as something of a master of suspense, Thompson expertly escalates the tension with a quick moving plot and by providing only enough detail for context.

Unrelenting in its bleakness, pessimism and ruthlessness, The Killer Inside Me is a thought-provoking and suspenseful book that has transcended pulp fiction to become a widely acclaimed literary work.
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LibraryThing member Bridgey
The Killer Inside - Jim Thompson ***

I had never heard of Jim Thompson, but browsing in a bookshop came across this. Stephen King recommended the author on the cover so I decided to pick it up and give it a try. I was surprised that it was written so long ago (1952) but I am quite a fan of the Noir
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period. James M Cain has to be one of most recently discovered favourite authors.

What is it about?

The book is told through the eyes of a small town deputy by the name of Lou Ford, a man who has created a fake persona as a slightly slow but lovable member of the community. We experience his paranoia and disturbed view of the world that leads him into a killing spree. Fuelled by past events from his childhood Ford meticulously plans each murder, but how long will it be before he is found out?

What did I like?

The action when it comes is very vivid, Thompson leaves very little to the imagination as we are described blow by blow the injuries inflicted on Ford's victims. I enjoyed the way that we are only allowed to experience Ford's own thoughts, this left me second guessing along with him whether or not the other characters were believing his stories or not. It was interesting to see how he perceived each situation and as his mental disease became more apparent to the reader, I also found myself looking at past events in a new light.

What didn't I like?

I understand the whole noir genre, and the need to keep language short and direct, but for me the novel was just a little too extreme. At times I lost myself in the plot and wasn't entirely sure what was happening. I admit, maybe this was just as much down to me as the author, but for me it spoilt the flow of the novel. Also I wish the author had explored Lou's early life a little more especially as the events directly related to his present day frame of mind. I love the character of Lou, but can't but help wonder what more have become if Cormac McCarthy had got his hands on him. Reminds me more than little of Child of God.

Anyway, by no means a poor read, just didn't hit enough buttons for me to be able to give it more than 3 stars. Looking at Amazon it has more than it's fair share of 5 star reviews so I am willing to accept that the fault is likely to be with me. I don't think I will actively seek out any more of Thompson's works, but if one 'fell' into my lap I would possibly give it a try.
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LibraryThing member Kristelh
Lou is a deputy sheriff in small town Texas. He appears slow but actually quite smart. This story of a socialpath is told in the first person. It is considered to be vintage crime novel in the US, written in 1952. The movie of this would be very gruesome.
LibraryThing member mrgan
This is a darker, slightly loopier granddaddy of TV's Dexter. Stop me if this sounds familiar: a law-enforcement officer, traumatized in childhood and subsequently watched closely by his father, splits his adult days between being a beloved community cornball and sadistically murdering people…
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and, in the most interesting twist here, we get to see it all from his perspective. It's to Thompson's credit that he mostly pulls this off—I found myself nearly agreeing with the deranged murderer that yes, this person in front of him totally needed to die. What might drag down the book for you a bit are Thompson's excesses. He gets carried away with beat-style passages, his plot is needlessly complicated in the classic noir fashion, and his characters are often painted so broadly you'll roll your eyes. If you think of it as genre writing, you'll forgive these flaws, as they're par for the course. It's up to you to decide if Thompson's violent, unapologetically evil story is a weak noir novel, or an interestingly twisted one. I'm still not fully decided myself.
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LibraryThing member electrascaife
Dexter meets 1950's Texas, which seems on the surface like it might be pretty good, but it just didn't click for me. I got too hung up on the misogyny, and the audio narrator wasn't fabulous, either.
LibraryThing member ChewingPencils
Lovely and horrendous.
LibraryThing member Stahl-Ricco
Well, the title says it all! The man character is the killer in question, and he narrates the tale. Creepy, violent, and premeditated! Chapter 18 is exceptionally well written! It is muddled and cloudy, showing the killer's mind and the frenzied state he lives in. Whew! My favorite Jim Thompson
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book to date!
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LibraryThing member untraveller
Good, easy read. Moves at a fast pace w/ the ending somewhat predictable, yet still very, very good.



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