Author: Jim Thompson
Publication Date: 1963
Who'll want to read it? See below
Point of no return: "Death might be forestalled if he took care of himself. Otherwise, he had no more than three days to live."
Classic line: "The lady or the loot. So what's it going to be?"
What's it all about? I'm a fan of crime novels, but I like good crime novels. Unfortunately the field is packed with books written by people with no talent or who can't be bothered. It was a great pleasure, then, to stumble across Jim Thompson, whose book The Grifters was made into a film in 1990.
The Grifters mixes up the crime genre. It's still seedy with nihilistic characters, but tells a familiar story without resorting to cliche or tired tropes. It's the story of a conman, Roy Dillon, who has talent at parting fools from their money. He's not as good at manipulating the women in his life. He tries to juggle his relationships with his mother, his mistress, and a nurse caring for an injury after a failed con, but the balls just bounce off his head.
Grifters avoids con cliches like the wise mentor who's the father-he-never-had, or the just-one-last-big-heist. It does what crime stories do best - examine relationships as they disintegrate and question what it means to be human. Watch this space for further reviews of Thompson's works.
Publisher: Vintage Crime
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