The Grifters by Jim Thompson


Roy Dillon is young, good-looking and devastatingly charming. He’s also a completely amoral con man. Lily, his mother, works for the mob. Moira Langtry, Roy’s mistress, is always looking for the main chance, and so is Carol Roberg, the nurse brought in to look after Roy when a bad choice of mark means he has an unfortunate encounter with a baseball bat and a bad case of internal bleeding. Together they make up a perverse quadrangle of love and greed in a coruscating novel of corruption.

Personal Thoughts:

This is not the type of fiction that I usually read. I got this book because of Chai, when we drop by at National Bookstore last week. The book cost only thirty bucks which is really cheap for a price of a book. I don’t have much expectation from this book except that it would be a short read since it contains 187 pages only. But it hardly pass as a short read for me, the pacing is too slow especially for a noir novel.

This is the first Jim Thompson book I had read and it took me awhile to get used to his writing style. I’ve heard that he is good but this book doesn’t left me the desire to read more of his works. Or at least not anytime sooner. With the settings set from 60’s to 70’s Thompson’s narrative description of the places, situations and characters are easy to imagine. But in spite of that, the characters lays flat for me. I don’t care much about them, except on one scene where Roy Dillon (main character) is thinking of getting out of the grift and just focus on his sales work. That make me wish for him to just really quit his odd job. The other characters are just plainly there. Even if they actually play a major role in the story, they don’t get any more interesting to me.

I continue reading the book hoping that the plot makes a difference. Actually, considering that this is written decades ago the story is pretty good especially the dark angle which expose the different side of the society at that time. But since I a m way ahead from that era, the concept feel dull and uninteresting anymore. I’ve seen a lot of movies with the same theme – crime, gambling, grifting and the likes and most of it (if not all) are way greater than this book.

As for the ending, the last few pages of the book seems rush, but with unexpected ending this book tries to left an expression. I honestly didn’t see that coming (Or maybe I didn’t care much about how will it end at all). Well, I guess this kind of fiction is not really my cup of tea. I better go back with my genre.


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