The Killer Inside Me

By Jim Thompson,

Book cover of The Killer Inside Me

Book description

Deputy Sheriff Lou Ford is a pillar of the community in his small Texas town, patient and thoughtful. Some people think he's a little slow and 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…

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Why read it?

7 authors picked The Killer Inside Me as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

Still one of the most disturbing books I’ve ever read from one of the great noir artists.

Thompson gets into the mind of Lou Ford, a psychotic killer who works as a sheriff’s deputy in a West Texas town. The book skillfully maneuvers through Ford dealing with his own crimes and the political maneuvering and blackmail plots in the town that build into an explosion.

This book showed me how turning down the volume in a story can be effective in a novel.

From Scott's list on crime with a whole lot of Texas.

In our continuing trend of books with first-person narration making the list, The Killer Inside Me by Jim Thompson is by far the most brutal and unapologetic.

The narrator in this 1950s crime thriller is a sadistic deputy sheriff in a small Texas town who finds it easier to live out his darkest fantasies with each vile act he commits. Think American Psycho meets The Andy Griffith Show.

What’s so haunting is that we are again inside the head of a psychopath, watching him justify his actions and maybe, just maybe, convince us that he’s not such a bad…

From Nick's list on that will haunt you for life.

As in all the best noir fiction, of which The Killer Inside Me is the very darkest, we know the journey can end in only one way. Before it ends, however, a lot of people besides Lou Ford, the protagonist, are going to die. The most terrible thing about this blood-soaked trip is that Lou takes us with him every step of the way. There’s no distance between the reader and Ford, who describes his violent acts in such intimate detail that we become almost complicit in them. We might begin by thinking that Lou Ford is the “Other”, not…

This is one of my favorite books by Thompson. The thing that really hooked me in with this book is that the protagonist and killer in the book is a sheriff. On the surface he appears to be a dull, by-the-book law enforcer, but Lou Ford is harboring a dark side that has been with him since childhood. The idea of one who is supposed to protect probably being the most dangerous and violent person in town is quite intriguing to me. There is an extra element of danger added because of the killer’s profession. I also appreciate that Thompson…

I wasn’t much of a reader when I was young, but when I was early-20s, I read a book called The Killer Inside Me by Jim Thompson. Not horror exactly, not crime fiction exactly, but definitely dark. I’d never read anything like it. The novel was written in the repressive 1950s and was told from the point of view of a complete sociopath. It was terrifyingly funny. As soon as finished, I knew I wanted to be a novelist. And I knew I wanted to write about secrets and darkness and violence.  

From Jon's list on that are relentlessly twisted.

It was Jim Thompson who first ignited my love of noir. In my twenties, I worked at a used book store and would snatch up every Thompson novel that came in. He was born in Oklahoma but his family then moved to Texas, and many of his novels are set in seemingly sleepy small Texas towns that actually teem with violence and treachery. The Killer Inside Me features Lou Ford, a violent sociopath hiding inside an outwardly dull and corny sheriff. This book woke me up to the amazing powers an author can wield just by using point of view. 

In Jim Thompson’s 1952 Novel, The Killer Inside Me, the central protagonist and narrator, Lou Ford, is revealed to be a psychopathic serial killer. The character development is brilliantly written as is the rest of this novel and it is nearly impossible not to get drawn into the narrative.

Ford is the enigmatic but understated Deputy Sheriff of Central City, a small American country town. Prone to platitudes and rhetoric, at first he seems nothing more than a stereotypical American lawman, but his true character is soon revealed by the masterful depiction of his psychological interior. I recommend this…

From William's list on first-person serial killers.

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