Author Rating: A

The Grifters (read 12/24/11) Highly recommended

J. Kingston Pierce at The Rap Sheet explains why The Grifters is one not to be missed:

I know Jim Thompson is a crime writer, though after re-reading one of his books, you wonder. Most of the requisite ingredients are there–guns and blood, cops and criminals, explications on the social habits of the wicked and dispossessed. But you can’t help thinking that Thompson only picked the genre as the most expedient route to his actual goal, which was to delve unblinkingly into the casual depravity of your everyday sociopath.

Of course, The Grifters (originally published in 1963) is first-rate noir, which is where it clearly fits within the contemporary taxonomy of crime fiction. Darkly engrossing and fast-moving, with writing that lacerates when it isn’t being lyrical. It’s a brief trip into the netherworld of the professional con, where fleecing suckers is less an adventure than a routine occupation, complete with its own operating manual–unwritten–and its own lexicon.

The screenplay for the 1990 movie adaptation, which received four Academy Award nominations and was named best picture of the year by, among others, the Los Angeles Times, was written by Donald E. Westlake.

It really is a terrific read.

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