29 July 2009
Jim Thompson: THE KILLER INSIDE ME
After reading back-to-back Peter Rabes, I speculated that I was perhaps done with noir, at least for the time being. Nope; wasn't so. Just, what, two days later, I picked up Jim Thompson's The Killer Inside Me, perhaps the most chilling short novel I've read in quite some time. And a roman noir par excellance, oh yes indeed (I don't know if I've ever strung that much French together at once, or even if I've done it correctly this time around. Mon Dieu!). This is particularly American noir, however, and a particular school of even that: Texas noir. Granted, rural Texas isn't the first place that springs to anybody's mind when they think noir, but it's been done, and done well, more times than you might think (I can't recall the name of the James Reasoner novel that introduced me to the subgenre...)--but never, in my experience, better than this. I've read my share of first-person-killer novels, some good and some bad, but this one takes the cake. Jim Thompson writes like he's actually punched someone's stomach so hard he could feel their spine snap on his fist. Beyond that, I don't know what to say. A+, easily (Note: they're apparently releasing a film adaptation in 2010; Jessica Alba's going to be in it. If I recall correctly, it's also been filmed once already, for whatever that's worth).