What can I say about a book that, when I checked out the last chapter after having read the first chapter, as is my usual way of reading a work of fiction, I didn’t understand anything and was left thinking this book was going to be a hell of a ride. Thank God it was only short.
I really didn’t like any of the characters in this book and think that while Jim Thompson is an amazing story teller, his characters in my humble opinion, are bloody awful. It is a testament to Mr Thompsons writing that I wanted to know what happened to these people, even though I didn’t like them at all, even Ruthie.
I am very character driven, sometimes to the detriment of the plot and Jim Thompson writes a mean story. I knew from the first page that Carl Bigelow was a dubious character and probably a hit man. Whilst his back ground story would have usually elicited sympathy, from the start I never cared for him and was pretty sure he was going to meet a messy end.
The target, Jake, whilst having only a small role to play in this novel was unlucky enough to be married to a woman who, whilst a right bitch, made the best of a bad situation. Getting her pleasure where and when she could. Looking at her situation from the perspective of a woman in the millennium, her circumstances are probably similar to many others who are trapped in a marriage that is destructive and unsavory to a man who you wish would just go away.
Thompsons understanding of how a woman feels when in the throes of a major crush are spot on. However, his seeming dislike for both women and the violence used against them while disturbing, was also a pretty accurate assessment of how Bigelow would respond to the opposite sex. I enjoyed his surprise at his feelings for Ruthie and her role in his ending was deeply satisfying in a disturbed kind of way.
Mr Kendall was a nice diversion and Carl’s suspicions gave the story the suspense I was expecting . I won’t give anymore away just in case somebody wants to read it as there are a few twists and turns especially towards the end of the story. I’m not sure I would recommend this book but Jim Thompson is definitely a master story teller and for anybody who doesn’t give a damn about liking the characters (even one of them) then you will most likely enjoy his books. As for me, I look forward to reading my next novel, A Single Man by Christopher Isherwood