The Killer Inside of Me

Mysterious Book Report No. 136

By John Dwaine McKenna

Every once in a while it’s refreshing to take a break from all of the just-published, must-read books written by authors who seem to be punching them out faster than we can absorb them, and turn to one of the classics: the foundational works that are the stepping stones from which many modern works emanate.

The Killer Inside of Me, (Orion Books Ltd., $12.00, PB 220 pages, ISBN 978-1-4091-1971-5) by Jim Thompson was first published in the United States in 1952 and republished in Great Britain in 2010.  As far as I know, it’s one of the first novels written from the perspective of a full-blown, amoral, sociopathic serial killer.  He’s a home grown boy, an orphan taken in and raised by the local doctor, a kind-appearing samaritan with a viscious private life.  The boy he’s adopted and given his name and home to, is a genius without morals or a conscience.  Now a fully grown man, he’s a deputy sheriff in his Texas home town of a few thousand souls.  His name is Lou Ford and he comes across as a gentle, understanding and dedicated lawman who doesn’t even carry a gun.  Lou has the habit of talking to himself as if there’s another person in the room, and he remarks several times that he’s been able to keep his ‘problem’ under control for a decade or more, but that he doesn’t think he can manage to do it for much longer.  His problem of course, is that he can’t keep from killing other human beings and, as a true sociopath, he has no conscience about it.  He may even enjoy it.  It’s what makes a killer like that so horrific.  I was reminded of the BTK (bind-torture-kill) killer from Wichita, Kansas who was caught after years of terror only because he turned himself in after concluding that the authorities weren’t smart enough to catch him.  The novel is all the more interesting because at the time it was written in 1952, serial killers were not yet defined, studied or understood.  Treat yourself if you’re a crime-fiction or mystery fan.  You’ll see why The Killer Inside Of Me is a classic.

Like the column?  The greatest compliment you can give is to share it with others on Facebook. John Dwaine McKenna

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