Thursday 10 February 2011


This is one heck of a wierd novel. Written by ex-CIA agent, Jim Thompson, and published in 1952, it is a first person narrative telling the story of the brutal murder/attempted murder of two very beautiful women. Lou Ford is the narrator and he knows all about the crimes because he's the one who committed them.

It's set in a back-water of a town in Texas and you get a real sense of how dismal the place was.

Under the surface of respectability, Lou Ford is a nasty piece of work, detailing his crimes in a cold, calculating way. I didn't like him one little bit and I've no idea why the two women were attracted to him because he treats neither very well. It's not the kind of behaviour you expect from a deputy sheriff.

The first person narrative works well read in small doses. It certainly is in an unusual style and you get a sense of Lou Ford's personality and his distinctive way of talking. Plus, there are hints as to his motivation. But I found it tedious if I read more than one chapter at a time and at times there is a lack of continuity.

So, I have no intention of reading his other novels, which include The Grifters and The Getaway (both made into excellent films), despite Stephen Kings' claim that Jim Thompson is 'my favourite crime novelist.' However, I would like to see the film based on the novel, starring Casey Affleck,Jessica Alba and Kate Hudson. It's probably very moody and extremely gory.

What I find far more interesting is Jim Thompson's history as related to me by John. Whilst visiting Bangkok some years ago, he came across a Jim Thompson shop selling a whole range of exquisite silk products: scarves, bags etc and spent some time buying presents and talking to the staff.

Apparently, Jim Thompson settled in Bangkok and totally revitalised the silk industry in Thailand (no idea why). Quite a contrast to his CIA/author background. But, and this is years ago, he disappeared and has never been seen again. Now that would be a cracker of a story.

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