Book Review Pop. 1280 by Jim Thompson
|What an awesome cover! I wish I had this version.|
So, imagine if you will, that Barney Fife is actually a psychopath.
That's Pop. 1280 for you in a nutshell with Sheriff Nick Corey serving in a Fife-esque role as the top law man in Potts County - the 47th largest county in the state, mind you. Most assuredly we're talking about Texas here. Gotta be.
What strikes me the most about the novel is just how damn funny it is. Much of it is staged as if it were a British Farce with all it's closing doors as our protagonist runs from one room to the next as he tries to keep his simple life, well, simple, while the elements conspire against. Instead of running from the parlor to the kitchen to the garden and so on, Sheriff Corey bounces back and forth between the multiple women he's having affairs with, a wife of his own (along with her dopey brother), politicking to keep his job, making it appear that he's doing his job (which he's not -- he knows this, as does his constituency; a deal that benefits all parties, Corey repeatedly assures whoever will listen), and trying to cover up an increasing amount of murders.
The comparisons to Thompson's most famous work, "The Killer Inside Me", are clear: a first-person tale told by a seemingly dim-witted law man who is actually more cunning and devious that he lets on. The main difference though that Lou Ford is acutely aware of who and what he is from start to finish, it's Corey's journey of discovering that inner-psychopath along the way that makes Pop. 1280 a more devilishly-fun journey into the rural hell that Jim Thompson is so good at portraying.
This is first-rate Thompson and a must read for any noir fan.
Pop. 1280 by Jim Thompson: 5 out of 5 rumors I'd heard about that other fella running for Sheriff.