For an aficionado of roman noir few things can be more satisfying than stumbling upon a delectably dark but criminally under-read text. The Killer Inside Me, justifiably referred to as "one of the most blistering and uncompromising crime novels ever written", and written by Jim Thompson, a largely forgotten author of pulp fictions who had also written the screenplays for Kubrick’s The Killing and Paths of Glory, is a darn good elucidation of one. Written from the point of view of a cold-blooded sociopath with a damaged psychosis, but cloaked in the garb of a genial common man, it painted a bleakly nihilistic world view and a deeply unsettling psychological portrait; in the world of crime literature this sure holds an important place for its artistic bravery. The book, therefore, through the seemingly average but essentially dangerous anti-hero, touched upon the inherent dichotomy between a person’s social image and his inner self, and hence the constant role-play necessitated from controlling one’s inherent impulses in order to conform to societal norms. Lou Ford, the 29-year old Deputy Sheriff of a small Texas town, has everything going for him – a boss who’s fond of him, town folks who all seem to like him, and a childhood girlfriend who’s crazy about him. Within his easy, laidback charm, however, lies a canny, misogynistic, murderous and unpredictable lunatic plagued with a scarred memory on account of certain damaging childhood incidents – a ticking time-bomb on the verge of exploding. His house of cards starts crumbling down when he becomes obsessed with a striking high-end prostitute, and decides to use her as a bait to strike at a wealthy oil magnate with whom he has a score to settle. Soon there’s double murder, and that’s just the beginning to this hellish ride. The chilling tale was complemented by an edgy, hardboiled prose, jaundiced humour, tar-drenched fatalism, gripping narrative, Freudian overtones and a blazingly realized central protagonist.
Author: Jim Thompson
Genre: Crime Thriller/Roman Noir/Hardboiled Literature