Read A Hell of a Woman by Jim Thompson Online


Frank "Dolly" Dillon has a job he hates, working sales and collections for Pay-E-Zee Stores, a wife named Joyce he can't stand, and an account balance that barely allows him to pay the bills each month. Working door-to-door one day, trying to eke money out of folk with even less of it than he has, Dolly crosses paths with a beautiful young woman named Mona Farrell. Mona'sFrank "Dolly" Dillon has a job he hates, working sales and collections for Pay-E-Zee Stores, a wife named Joyce he can't stand, and an account balance that barely allows him to pay the bills each month. Working door-to-door one day, trying to eke money out of folk with even less of it than he has, Dolly crosses paths with a beautiful young woman named Mona Farrell. Mona's being forced by her aunt to do things she doesn't like, with men she doesn't know--she wants out, any way she can get it. And to a man who wants nothing of what he has, Mona sure looks like something he actually does.Soon Dolly and Mona find themselves involved in a scheme of robbery, murder and mayhem that makes Dolly's blood run cold. As Dolly's plans begin to unravel, his mind soon follows.In A HELL OF A WOMAN, Jim Thompson offers another arresting portrait of a deviant mind, in an ambitious crime novel that ranks among his best work....

Title : A Hell of a Woman
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780316403733
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 208 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

A Hell of a Woman Reviews

  • Dan Schwent
    2019-02-16 15:41

    Down on his luck salesman Frank Dillon meets a girl named Mona who's being abused and practically put on the street corner by her elderly aunt. When Dillon finds out the aunt has over a hundred thousand dollars hidden in the house, he plans to kill her and run off with Mona. Unfortunately, this book was written by Jim Thompson...Nobody writes noir tales about the wheels coming off an already shaky plan like old Mr. Cheerful himself, Jim Thompson. A Hell of a Woman is a tale very nearly from the James M. Cain mold. Man meets woman, bumps off someone in order to be with her, then quickly descends into madness.Frank Dillon coming unglued is a testament to Jim Thompson's skill as a writer. As things start coming unraveled, Frank's cracking is very believable. The way his personality splits into two parts was very well done and quite jarring toward the end.That's about all I can say without giving too much away. This is definitely an upper tier Jim Thompson book. It's an easy four stars.

  • Kemper
    2019-01-27 13:59

    It’s nice to know that when everyday life starts to seem kind of depressing that you can escape into a good book. Unless that book is by Jim Thompson. Then you’re screwed.Frank ‘Dolly’ Dillon will tell you that he’s a hard working joe saddled with a lazy wife, and he just can’t catch a break at his job as salesman/collection agent for a company that sells cheap goods on credit to poor people. While making his rounds Dolly meets Mona, a young woman who is being pimped out her by nasty old aunt, and Dolly finds himself sympathetic towards her even though he’s got his hands full with his own problems at work.In some ways this is a typical noir story with a small time loser coming up with a criminal scheme to get the better life he thinks he deserves. However, since this is Jim Thompson the plot takes enough twists and turns to keep you guessing even if you have a pretty good idea of the outcome. What I like best about Thompson is the way could write lead characters who tell us one thing in their narration, but whose actions say a whole lot more about what they’re really like. Dolly is a nasty little piece of work, and he’s what makes this one really hum. At least until the very end. I didn’t much care for the last chapter which knocked this down a bit for me.It’s exactly what you’d expect from Jim Thompson telling this kind of story, and that’s pretty damn good.

  • Darwin8u
    2019-01-21 12:36

    "L'enfer, c'est les autres"- Jean-Paul Sartre, No ExitThere is only so much Jim Thompson one should read in a summer. Even an Arizona summer starts to seem dark under the weight of too much Thompson. Finishing this book makes me want to punch someone. Hard. Look, this isn't his best pitch. I get it. He's done better stuff. Things that will hang with you longer. Stories that were a bit more dynamic. But still, reading this Dimestore Dostoevsky is going to bend you no matter how this book measures up to Thompson's other stuff. This novel reads like a linear, painful nervous breakdown. The women hurt and the money doesn't help. Just remember folks. Life isn't fair. Women are hard. Money is damn slippery. It all becomes that much more complicated when you are beat down and a bit crazy to boot. Some people never get a lucky roll. Some people never catch an easy day. This book is for the poor, the misunderstood, the downtrodden. It is a book to remind those poor sons-of-bitches that not only could their lot be worse, but yeah baby, someday it most certainly WILL be worse.

  • Richard
    2019-02-07 13:38

    This is the first Jim Thompson book I've read (don't know why it took so long), but it was definitely an experience. The story starts out with a fairly simple and familiar noir plot, focusing on a door-to door salesman who gets smitten for a meek, but strangely attractive young woman, and hatches a plot to steal some dough from her aunt, who's a down-right deplorable old witch that pimps out her niece to everyone around town. But eventually, it evolves into this totally bizarre and unpredictable character-driven ride. And WHOA! WHAT AN ENDING!I'm excited to get into his other novels! Any author that has the balls to write a line like the one below, is definitely one to get excited about:"...even the puke was beautiful like everything else."

  • brian
    2019-01-25 13:34

    these 3 star ratings reflect a lack of consistency as thompson was a pulpdrunk piece-of-shit meet-a-deadline writer who could reach great heights but then'd mar the work with some sloppyass booshit. just as simenon, in response to a question asking if he had a 'great' book in him, said that all his slim, singularly focused books were mere tiles in a great mosaic, i kinda think thompson's oeuvre adds up to something greater than the sum of its parts. they usually follow a pretty traditional route until they flip off into the realm of total batshittiness... which we like. the unreliable narrators, linguistic experimentation, clashes in tone, the slowburn and eventual total dissolution of a character's entire fucking identity, grotesques who'd fit right in in ol' sherwood's winesburg... we like. we like a lot.

  • Ben Winch
    2019-02-15 19:42

    Dammit, I knew it! I just reviewed the whole Jim Thompson omnibus when deep down I knew that one review of A Hell of a Woman would say just about all I need to say about Jim Thompson. It's great! An underrated classic! From the first page you know this is Thompson at his best: the girl glimpsed through a window in a lightning storm, the hard-luck shyster salesman-cum-debt-collector out in the rain lusting after her, and the slang-talking first-person POV he would make famous in The Killer Inside Me, only here put to work in the service of a story, to my mind, deeper than Killer could ever be:All of a sudden something seemed to snap inside of my head. It was just like I wasn't anymore, like I'd just shriveled up and disappeared. And in my place there was nothing but a deep hole, a deep black hole, with a light shining down from the top.Whoa baby, this is Thompson firing on 5 cylinders with no brakes and a seized-up shock-absorber, black as pitch and writing from the heart, or as close to it as his sleazy choice of genre will allow. Better still, that genre takes him places he maybe couldn't get otherwise - through some sordid, creepy acts of violence and scenes of dialogue reminiscent of Crime and Punishment in their potential double-meanings, which play on the paranoiac narrator's nerves to the point of near-insanity. (For once, the 'dimestore Dostoevsky' appellation does not seem misplaced.) The self-justifying and self-pity is just about pitch-perfect too, as is the humble-pie act, which in Killer or Pop 1280 seems too self-conscious but here is so close to the line between conscious act and delusion that the narrator himself seems unsure whether to believe it or not. And this tightrope-walk between aware and otherwise may be the essence of Thompson's genius. There's a scene around the middle of Woman in which the narrator, Frank 'Dolly' Dillon, is suddenly confronted with a 'Where did you get that money?' by a character we know has been playing it coy for several pages, and even though we see it coming it's chilling, because what we can't know is just how Dolly will react, given that he's been lulling himself in a dream-world by deliberately taking things at face value. A repeated line throughout this: 'That's how I wanted it to be, so that's how it was.' Of course because it's Thomspon - and Thompson at his most free - it's never gonna be perfect. Funny thing, in Killer he had the narrator bitch about contemporary fiction writers, about their propensity to dispense with grammar and get all experimental at the climaxes to their novels, yet this is exactly what he does here (and to a lesser degree in Killer itself). Added to that a slightly hokey story-within-the-story device (in which the narrator writes and rewrites an increasingly delusional autobiography) is out of place here, yet works psychologically and thanks to the rapid-fire style of the whole manages not to offend. In contrast, the slangy conversational style is brilliant - as good as just about anything I've read by Thompson or anyone else for that matter - some of it so hilarious that I would laugh out loud and shake my head in admiration for minutes after reading the choicest parts. So too the sex scenes: these truly are genius, for suggesting so much with so little, for staying well out of range of the censors while managing to be both thrilling and gruesome in their import, and giving ample motivation for ol' Dolly to tie the noose ever-tighter round his neck in his struggle to grasp his ideal image of woman. And when it comes down to it that's really the crux of this book, and why I think it is essential for an understanding of its author: it's about the delusions inspired by sex and romantic love; it's Thompson's Vertigo; and, you ask me, it's the explication of a subtext that runs through all his work, and motivates most if not all of the dirty little crimes of his protagonists. Added to that, this is pulp, shamelessly so, and all the better for it. No pretensions to literary in-joking as in Killer (in which the narrator, a deep thinker and bibliophile in the guise of a pea-brained yokel, seems almost like a scathing self-portrait of Thompson the literary master trapped in the body of a pulp writer); nah, here it's just a street-talking over-reaching everyman on the road to ruin in an unnamed hellhole in middle America, and despite his cramming an impressive array of stylistic tricks into the delivery the mask never drops - we never catch Thompson drawing attention to himself. Make no mistake, this is sordid. It's brave. It's funny. And even though the end will have you scratching your head it gets the point across, and at least suggests a satisfying hall-of-mirrors effect which, while a touch too 'experimental', is well within and somehow even emblematic of the pulp tradition to which it aspires.we smoked the hay. we started sniffing the snow... guzzle the juice and puff the mary and sniff the c... we did that and then we went on the h. we started riding the main line... we were blind, too paralysed to feel, too numb. but everything began to get beautiful.Jeez, it's ridiculous, but gloriously, liberatingly so, especially when you remind yourself this is 1954. And remember, this is the guy that wrote Kubrick's Paths of Glory; he's a seriously good writer in the old-fashioned sense. But something's come over him. You want fever-dream? This is pretty close to it. Lonesome, he said. The man said I looked lonesome. And I had all kinds of company. All kinds. All dead. All jumping up in front of me wherever I looked, all laughing and crying and singing in my mind.You pull a thread out of this and it'd fall apart. And there's loose threads here - plenty. But you wanna hear a howl from the throat of the 20th-century Proletarian pushed to breaking point by babes and booze and survival-of-the-fittest consumerism, you could do a lot worse. Could be, for all its cartoonish surreal absurdity, that A Hell of a Woman is some kinda 'Great American Novel'. The best kind - camouflaged. Set to blow.

  • James Thane
    2019-02-17 11:46

    This is vintage Jim Thompson--a story filled with irredeemable characters and lots of sex, violence and alcohol. Frank Dillon is an outside salesman/collector for a company that preys on low-income people. He drinks too hard and plays fast and loose with his company accounts. A parade of unsatisfactory women have passed through his life, all of them memorable only for the faults they displayed. And then Frank meets the beautiful Mona, a sexy young woman desperately in need of being rescued from the aunt who abuses her by trading Mona's favors rather than paying her bills.Frank is immediately entranced and thinks that Mona might finally be the woman he's waited for. He's even more excited to learn that he might not only have Mona but a huge pile of money as well. And all he has to do to get both the girl and the cash is kill a couple of people who desperately deserve killing. But poor Frank doesn't know that he's wandered into Jim Thompson country and that things are probably not going to turn out well.

  • Andy
    2019-01-23 15:50

    I remember buying this when Black Lizard first came out and the cover was laminated with an amazing cover by Nancy McGregor showing an insane Marilyn Monroe leering right at you in a darkened office. That cover pulled $3.95 out of my pocket in record time. Since it was my last $3.95 I had to go downtown and donate my blood so I could have more money for books.I read "A Hell Of A Woman" lying on a gurney pumping my plasma for book dough, and the transfusion didn't make my blood run cold, this awesome novel did. A credit shark named "Dolly" kills an old woman who holds her stuttering imbecile of a niece captive so he can play house with her. The climax to the book is unlike anything ever written and has to be read to be believed.

  • Carla Remy
    2019-02-19 17:57

    Good plot, good suspense. Displays Thompson's mastery of twisted perspective shifts. Kind of just sinks into a hellhole at the end, like a fair amount of his fiction does.

  • David
    2019-02-09 18:59

    Comment from 2008: In recent months, I seem to have stumbled into the project of reading in publication order the collected works the noirboiled greats. Thus, since beginning to read noir in an orderly way, I've read the first two novels of Charles Williams, the first three of Raymond Chandler, the first six or seven by Cornell Woolrich, etc. At some point, I'll start with the first Jim Thompson book, and begin working my way through his canon in an orderly fashion, too, and when I reach (and re-read) my Thompson favorites, I will post comments about them. For now, I will just stick them in my Noir Hall of Fame.Comment upon second reading: Reading this novel for a second time was an interesting experience. When I first read A Hell of a Woman more than 20 years ago, it floored me. I was completely unprepared for genre fiction from this era that was so unapologetically risky and experimental. I have reflexively put the novel in my Noir Top Ten ever since. Rereading it, I was expecting a masterpiece, but this change in expectation left me acutely aware of the novel's shortcomings. To put it bluntly, the book is a mess. But this is where I am supposed to clarify that A Hell of a Woman is a groundbreaking mess that helped to pave the way for noir fiction to be taken seriously as art, right? I don't know. I think I may need to read it again.First reading: circa 1992Second reading: 20 March 2014

  • Josh
    2019-02-17 17:40

    A door to door salesman stumbles across a young woman being held captive against her will and used as a sex slave by an unassuming yet villainous older woman. Offered the services of the sex slave as payment for goods he quickly turns down the offer (one of his very few redeemable moments) and sets out to free Mona. Of course, the cool thousand buck score sweetens the deal. Frank Dillion (aka Dolly) isn’t a nice man. He’s abusive, a scammer; a grifter of sorts with little going for him apart from the amazing ability to attract nice looking dames who can’t wait to marry him. Having had upwards of five wives already, it’s clear for the reader to discern a pattern in Dolly’s actions and warped sense of thought.A HELL OF A WOMEN is pure noir. Dolly has little to no redeeming qualities, violence is easy and without emotion, and the ending isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. The plot itself was entertaining but was soured by a confusing last couple of pages where Dolly’s mind is put in question in almost no uncertain terms. Not as good as some of Jim Thompson’s other works but still serviceable. 3 stars.

  • Lynn
    2019-02-19 12:54

    Sure fire formula for a great book....completely messed up, unreliable narrator who degenerates into madness. I despise people who don't accept responsibility for their actions, but somehow I forgive it in a Jim Thompson character. Frank Dillon is such a heel that I had to laugh at him. Crazy ass ending as usual....sort of a split-screen drug experience thing..... I've never read anything like it, except Thompson.

  • Deborah Sheldon
    2019-02-19 13:38

    "There's just some guys that get the breaks, and some that don't. And me, I guess you know the kind I am." Not my favourite Jim Thompson novel, but a great read nonetheless, with a complex narrator and a plot that twists and turns in a dozen different ways.

  • Mitch Duckworth
    2019-02-06 15:46

    Thompson is something akin to a genre of his own . . . You know a great deal before you read a single sentence. You know you're going to shake your head in disbelief and surprise at the outrageous behavior and complete disregard of the moral code evidenced by a still-completely likable protagonist. You know you're going to find yourself laughing at things that in life would be horribly un-laughable. You know that at some point, you're jaw is going to hang open—your eyebrows elevated to the apex of their arch—and you will be agog. And you know, this will not end well. Safe bets. "Dolly" Dillon is an SOB in the classic Thompson vein. It is not hard to imagine him with a hell of a woman . . . Or two. He deserves everything he gets, and doesn't get, but you can't help harboring tender feelings for him. In his own words, he's a "hard luck case." He really doesn't know better. In Thompson's world, few do. His characters are in a hell of their own making, and redemption is not on the table. Occasionally, we meet a character who might make better choices, and who will not participate in the caper du jour—Dolly's wife, Joyce, in this case—but these people are interesting only to a point. Divested of emotional content, they make good victims. Joyce is interesting in that even after she makes a break and leaves Dolly, she's not done. She comes back to try it again. She might have returned for love, but she stayed for love . . . and money, and in the noir universe of Thompson, money is at the root of most downfalls. Show me greed and lust, he seems to say, and I’ll show you a man with his tongue hanging out and a compass in his pocket. Even innocence is no guarantee of safe passage. In this existence, it's damned near a liability. Poor Mona lived the life of an abused innocent. Her evil grandmother sold Mona's lovely body for the price of beans and rice. Mona was exploited by everyone she'd ever known from day one. Why would Dolly be different? Because he talked a good game? Because the sleeping poet in his soul responded to the forlorn despair of the young and beautiful Mona? Because he really DID intend to take her away from all this? Yep. We almost think it might have been, and maybe . . . If not for all that money.And even if it seems that Dolly might have survived to catch an unlikely break on another day in another town, we can rest easy. It's only a matter of time. This is hell, after all, and they don't call it hell for nothing.Thompson doesn't seem to tell his readers everything, just enough for us to want to fill in the blanks between the lines, and the missing blocks in a passage of time. He tells the least amount he must convey for us to suss out the juicy details we need to delight in the irony, and revel in the satisfaction of an eventual comeuppance or two. Perhaps we readers of Thompson are in training to achieve the necessary objectivity with which to view ourselves through the story arc of our own lives. I'm merely hoping to avoid gazing into the glass darkly, hoping to avoid awakening in a succession of bleary steel gray dawns in myriad fleabag flop houses in hell, myself, hoping to avoid desperate searches into dull and blackened mirrors, and seeing angry vengeful eyes peering back. That's the best part about reading Thompson. I'm only visiting. I don't have to live there. (I hope.)

  • Michael
    2019-02-13 19:57

    I picked this Jim Thompson book off the shelf without expecting very much. It's generally not mentioned amongst the more lauded books Thompson has written, like Savage Night, Killer Inside Me, and Pop. 1280. Fortunately, it's just as strong as those aforementioned books, and if you're a Jim Thompson fan, I suggest you give this one a go.The main character Frank "Dolly" Dillon is a pretty standard Thompson protagonist; he's ruthless, bibulous, hostile toward women, looking for an angle, and an unreliable narrator. Reading Savage Art, Robert Polito's excellent and exhaustive biography of Thompson, helped me realize how much of Frank Dillon's personality was similar to Jim Thompson's. Friends described Thompson as someone that always felt down on his luck and that the odds were stacked against him in everyway (he also liked to drink quite a bit). Another clue is that Dillon was James Thompson's communist party handle name.Frank Dillon is a door to door salesman that arrives at a home occupied by a woman who's described as an old miserly crone. She lives there with her young niece, Mona. Dillon gets propositioned to trade a silverware set for an assignation with Mona. He pities the horrendous situation Mona is in and the two decide to conspire against the old maid for her wealth.Hell of a Woman is a quick book to get through and it's packed with a lot of great plot twists. You don't know how Dillon's planning to untangle himself from the mess he gets in because he doesn't know himself. And it's entertaining to be brought into this hapless criminals thought process. The book is also chock-full of the classic Thompson criminal, lowlife vernacular. This is another fantastic book to add to the list of Jim Thompson's excellent crime fiction catalogue.

  • Christopher Fulbright
    2019-02-11 19:34

    A HELL OF A WOMAN is a hell of a book, but if you've read much Jim Thompson you know that already. This isn't one of his better known novels I suppose -- at least, I hadn't heard a lot about it -- but it does have his signature plot turns and a lot of punch.This is a fast read, and not just because it's a pretty short book. Thompson keeps the pressure on his main guy and never lets up. The end of every chapter throws a new wrench in the works, making this a gripping read that's hard to put down.It's difficult to identify any significant flaws in this work, so the only reason I don't give it five stars is simply because it doesn't top my favorites by Thompson (which include The Killer Inside Me, Savage Night, and The Getaway). Folks who aren't fans of 40s-50s noir or hardboiled fiction might find the tough-guy lingo a little awkward. It does seem that the writing here is a bit rougher in spots than in some of his other work, but God knows what kind of insane circumstances or deadlines he was working under when he created this one, which really just adds an element of charm for my mileage. This is top-shelf crime fiction that you'd be hard-pressed to beat with anything from your average library. Recommended for those with a taste for dark, violent noir and crime novels that take you on a wild ride. Not for the meek.

  • Mohammed
    2019-01-23 14:33

    This is a new experience for me, i havent read an avreage JT novel before and this was less than i expect from his kind of noir stories of characters with depth, the tight storytelling driven by the many compelling characters. This novel the only character with depth, written decently compared to what i have come to expect from Thompson is the POV lead role Frank "Dolly" Dillion. He is unreliable narrator, disgusting pig when it comes to women, a real loser even in his own mind but at-least he was not bland like the other prominent characters of the novel.

  • Susanne
    2019-01-31 16:59

    I don't know what the new, modern cover is supposed to illustrate but THIS ->> depicts the opening scene. And who knew you could get away with publishing such a perverse and sexual set-up back then? In fact, if adjectives like dark, perverse, sexual, and bleak make you prick up your ears, this is your book. They don't get much more noir than this.

  • Tomas Boudreau
    2019-01-30 17:54

    Dostoevsky without hope.

  • Joanne Renaud
    2019-02-21 15:38

    Sleazy, violent, misogynistic and black as pitch: welcome to the world of Jim Thompson. His writing isn't for everyone, and I felt like I had to take a shower at frequent intervals, but his characters and world-building are incredibly compelling. The... "hero"... okay, protagonist... if I can even call him that... is a winning guy named Frank "Dolly" Dillon, a broke-ass door-to-door salesman for some 1950s Rent-a-Center type outfit. His heroic instincts, such as they are, are revived when he comes upon a beautiful girl being pimped out by her ancient, mean-spirited aunt. He helps her out, in his way, but his violence, cowardice and paranoia get the better of him as he concocts a really poorly thought-out murder scheme to kill the aunt and get a hold of her ill-gotten loot. Somewhere along the way he thinks he's going to rescue the girl, but then he patches things up with his wife. But then he changes his mind. And then he goes off the deep end. And I mean he really goes off the deep end. Oh, Dolly. Dolly. Did you forget your lithium again, Dolly?Anyway... SPOILERS... (view spoiler)[I'm not sure what happens in the end (the ending is notorious for its violence), but Dolly goes into a total fugue state and possibly castrates himself. I think. I'm not sure. (hide spoiler)] The ending is broken up into italics and non-italics, which represents two states of mind, where you see two possible outcomes for Dolly's life. Whatever happens, it couldn't happen to a better guy. Alcoholism is a major aspect of Thompson's work; the author himself struggled with alcoholism. The disease lingers on the page, and it reminds me of how many talented guys of that era crashed and burned horribly. It's a sobering book, in more ways than one.

  • Piker7977
    2019-01-21 15:39

    Wowser!!!When asked what "noir" means, James Ellroy answered "It means you're f*@#ed." Dread, despair, anxiety, fear, excitement, longing, dreaming, euphoria, risk, danger, lust, passion, scheming.... All conjured up in this "noir" masterpiece from Jim Thompson.Thompson's great strength is putting the reader in the mind of somebody who is truly deranged, desperate or psychotic ... maybe all three at once. These characters are superhuman or mystical figures. They are citizens caught up in the grinding rat race. The average joe character in A Hell of a Woman is named Dillon. This hard-knocked boob chances upon a sirenesque girl named Mona. In order to enhance both of their lives, Dillon and Mona, become tangled up in a plot which involves murder, theft, and lies.From page 84 on I felt like I was on a tilt-a-whirl while experiencing a fever dream. The avant-garde moments (of which Thompson incorporates in his work) are absolutely enjoyable and give the story added layers of complexity. This is where Thompson shines and his work transcends simple crime fiction by dipping a toe in interpretative literature. It's been a while since I've picked up a Thompson book and I forgot how wonderful they are.

  • Matthew
    2019-02-17 12:57

    Another Thompson sociopath charts a course to hell. Frank "Dolly" Dillon is a salesman/money collector selling and collecting for cheap garbage with a huge mark up, but has been skimming his payouts and doctoring the paperwork. The only luck Frank ever knew was baaaaaad luck. On the hunt for a deadbeat he meets an evil old woman willing to prostitute her niece for set of dishes. Because he's such a great guy, he doesn't take up with the girl, instead plots to kill the miserly crone and start a new life with this helpless girl. Many mistakes are made. Great use of the unreliable narrator. Frank lies, makes excuses, contradicts himself, pleads for understanding, and sometimes gets it, but every time you start to sympathize, Frank changes up his story. He's just a good guy with bad luck don't you see? Even a world class liar is right some of the time though. It doesn't end well for Frank, or anyone he comes in contact with for that matter, but when does it ever work out in a Thompson novel? Pure grit slung by a master.

  • Thomas
    2019-02-13 13:52

    Good Christ, this book is disturbing. It's classic Thompson from his incredibly productive period -- hard, nasty, unsympathetic, unsentimental, basically evil. You think you're being treated nice and then it smacks you in the face with a crowbar -- and you let it. At the end it all disintegrates into complete incomprehensible psychosis. Apparently there was some dispute between Thompson and the publisher as to how the experimental section at the end was typeset -- whatever, I'm kind of shocked they allowed freaky post-modernist shit like that to be used in a crime novel. For my money, it doesn't work, but that kind of freakout is part of what makes Thompson interesting; he'd try anything to lay his booze-addled, brain-damaged misanthropic hateful vision of the world on people, to make them suffer with the burden of, as he put it, "A bucket of shit with a barbed-wire handle." The barbed wire's never been sharper or rustier, the shit never stinkier or heavier than in this book.

  • Warren Stalley
    2019-01-29 19:45

    Travelling salesman Frank “Dolly” Dillon thinks he knows all the angles but when he meets shy stunner Mona Farrell and her manipulative aunt then his scheming and dreaming suddenly start to go awry. With the small matter of a hidden stash of 100,000 dollars greed, lust and murder all conspire to drag Frank into his own personal hell, gradually losing his mind. As usual with Jim Thompson the delicate balance of life slowly starts to disintegrate as Frank realises that he’s just born to lose. A Hell of a Woman is another typical twisted crime novel from the one of those rare authors who turns pulp fiction into literary magic. Although for me not as powerful or spellbinding as The Killer Inside Me, this novel still manages to shock and impress like much of Jim Thompson’s dark crime work.

  • Cullen Gallagher
    2019-01-24 15:00

    A masterpiece of cheap lives, small-town desperation, and absent morals. The last few pages, in which the protagonist has a mental breakdown, is written in alternating lines of conflicting consciousness: its among the most evocative, frightening, and beautiful prose I've read. The protagonist, a sleazy door-to-door salesman, is the epitome of the Thompson archetype: he fears betrayal because he, himself, has no loyalties, and sees no justification for them; his over-confidence is equaled only by his paranoia; and his failure to get a grip on his life is, ultimately, a human tragedy all too common and one in which we must empathize with. Among Thompson's best works.

  • Tucker Stone
    2019-01-25 14:44

    The story of a man, a woman, and money that doesn't belong to them: that's the plot of a bunch of Jim Thompson books, but few of them go as nightmarish in the final pages, and that's saying something when you remember...oh, just about anything else he wrote after the first three books. There's a temptation when reading a book like this to fly through the words just to see in what specific way this one will go wrong, but if you can slow down, do so. There's just so much here that's worth savoring, even if every bit of it is drunk with blood and mean as hell.

  • Ffiamma
    2019-02-20 14:37

    non si salva nessuno, nei libri di thompson: non solo i diavoli di donne, ma anche gli uomini. tutti marci, tutti pronti a esplodere in un delirio di violenze e nefandezze, tutti ai margini del sogno americano. e alcol, abbrutimento, sordidezza, disonestà- con uno stile semplice eppure incisivo (mi è sembrata buona la traduzione di luca briasco).

  • David
    2019-01-29 15:46

    There's a lot to A HELL OF A WOMAN that most people won't like, and that's kind of the point. All too often great characters do great things and the world watches and it's...well...great. But life isn't always like that and every once and a while there's a book like this. Unreliable narration, irredeemable characters and a lot of wrong that'll make you question your expectations as a reader.

  • Maureen
    2019-01-25 12:59

    this book reminded me a lot of charles williams' the hot spot. i like the characterization of the creep narrator very much but the story isn't much, and there isn't much to keep one's interest. i like the last couple of pages quite a lot though: the overlapping left me bemused and wondering about the proper ending to this tale.

  • Eve Kay
    2019-02-08 15:00

    This was the top of the line. This really convinced me of Thompson. The cruelty and the the honesty of the text is beautiful. Reading this was somehow disturbing at times because I was afraid of what might happen but really really needed to know what might happen.A dilemma.Only solved by reading the book and leaving all the judging until the very end. True Thompson, guaranteed!