Lou Ford is a 29 year old deputy sheriff and also … a psychopath.
Several essays and reviews have been written on Jim Thompson’s book, The Killer Inside Me, so I will not bore you with a long introduction into the book. What you need to know about this if you haven’t read the book is that it’s a story about a typical “nice guy” who is actually a cold blood criminal. The story takes place in a small community, a city in Texas, where everyone knows everyone and they all have only good things to say about Lou. He is the one guy who saves you when you need a helping hand, he is the reliable buddy. Even his name is simple, common and seems trustful.
In reality, Lou did something wrong when he was a kid, and because he didn’t have to suffer the consequences of his actions, he grew up into a sick man, obsessively seeking revenge. His father and step brother decided that the best option was to blame the incident on Lou’s step brother, so that society wouldn’t condemn Lou. What they did not know, was that Lou’s behavior got worse: he is a psychopath.
Reading the story from Lou’s perspective was fascinating to me. The writing is so good, that it emerges you into the story. You empathize with Lou, you understand Lou, you are Lou… Until it hits you, and you realize that he is a criminal, and you shouldn’t feel sorry for a criminal…right?! But criminals and psychopaths are people too. Sick ones, of course, but they are human. What he does is disgusting (leaving aside his masochistic interests which are debatable): he creates this fake image of himself by lying to everyone, pretending to be something he is not – he knows how to fit into society’s paradigm of a good guy, and he is certain that he won’t be unveiled.
Lou fights off the will to kill several times, but as things get out of control, he has to kill in order to make the stories sound right and avoid being suspected. But despite his ability of deceiving, authority catches up on him, and he is caught. But Lou doesn’t disappoint – he goes out with a bang. But not before analyzing himself in a weirdly unexpected fashion. He knows who and what he is, and also what he did. A powerful and purifying ending to a twisted-minded literary adventure.
For me, this book was an intriguing journey through a psychopath’s mind, and I deeply recommend it to anyone who is into crime/psychological thrillers. I haven’t read something similar to this until now, so it was refreshing to stumble upon a new (to me) approach.