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THE KILLER INSIDE ME – “You Gotta Go There”

February 18, 2011

The Killer inside Me

by Jim Thompson

256 pages, $13.95

This classic of shadowy, noir alienation predates Patricia Highsmith’s The Talented Mr. Ripley by three years but has the first-person narrator enter into the crime in a way that makes us both cheer and abhor his (our) amoral choices. Credible settings, taut dialogue, haunting theme, Thompson has a way of making things happen off stage and revealing plot twists that might have changed our reactions to events had we known them earlier. But more to the point, we are left wondering about our empathy for this psychotic, murderous West Texas deputy sheriff. The process speaks to the heart of reading: how I can sample other lives and other situations though sometimes I might be shocked at the result—might be shocked by the killer inside me.

A friend recently asked me if I was interested in getting the much acclaimed DVD version of this Thompson story. But the kind of perspective possible in a novel like this is different from a movie. I’m rereading The Remarkable Mr. Ripley and as much as I admire the perfectly cast film version with Matt Damon, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jude Law and the ever-suspicious Phillip Seymore Hoffman,  it cannot have the same kind of intimacy (or catharsis) as the book. This is the difference between observing something and experiencing it for yourself. Jim Thompson is a master in doing the latter. And—like it or not—we gotta go there.

Buy this book directly from amazon for $11.16.  Just click: The Killer Inside Me

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