By Margot Mifflin
April 19, 1991 at 04:00 AM EDT

Nothing More Than Murder

B+
type
  • Book
Genre

With the Jim Thompson revival in full swing, Nothing More Than Murder, originally published in 1949, offers a good point of entry to Thompson’s world. A socially marginal narrator named Joe Wilmot sets the stage for murder, kills, then walks the reader through the excruciating implosion of his plan. Wilmot and his wife, Elizabeth, a frosty babe who responds well to a good spanking, attempt to cash in on her life insurance by faking her murder. Their scheme is subverted by Wilmot’s lover, a busty, cross-eyed housekeeper in whom he sees his own vulnerability reflected. Wilmot’s persistent rationalizations for his bad behavior are typically Thompsonian flourishes and slyly amusing. And his response to getting caught sums up the worldview of most of this pulp maestro’s protagonists: ”I thought, they can’t hang me. I’m already dead. I’ve been dead a long, long time.B+

Nothing More Than Murder

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