In my head, I've been comparing this book to American Psycho, which is a problem because they're not much alike . . . aside from the killing, of course. The Killer Inside Me came first, by a lot, and must have been quite shocking for its time, but it looks so tame next to Easton Ellis's bloodbath of a book. And Patrick Bateman is an unapologetic sociopath, but Lou Ford falls more on the side of psychopath, because he does have a conscience . . . even if he chooses to ignore it most of the time.
I think what keeps bringing me back to Bateman is the hint of humor, twisted though it may be. In this book, the inappropriate giggles are caused by the way Lou Ford suppresses "the sickness" while keeping up his doddering deputy sheriff routine. He wants to hurt people, but he knows he can't HURT them hurt them, so he inflicts pain by the most benign means imaginable: He bores them to tears. Seriously. He tortures them with corny cliches. You know the kind I mean: "Every cloud has its silver lining." "Haste makes waste." "Look before you leap." He's a MONSTER.
Oh! I thought of another Bateman/Ford similarity: They both hate women. And can we talk about the women in Lou's life? Behind Door No.1, we have Joyce, a prostitute who likes to be beaten and doesn't care about anything but getting out of town with Lou. Behind Door No. 2, we have Amy, the town sweetheart who ALSO likes to be beaten and doesn't care about anything but getting Lou to marry her. I know . . . so many layers to explore. I'm sure some people would argue that these women are strong but just can't flex their muscles within the restrictions of their time and place. I think these women are idiots. Would you care for a more concrete example? Happy to oblige.
The setting: Amy is mad at Lou because he kept her waiting at his house. Amy is nagging him, as we pesky women are known to do.
"All she had to say would take her the rest of her life to finish; and I wasn't even halfway in the mood for it. I reached out and grabbed her by the crotch. . . . I lay down beside her with my clothes on. I had to do it, because there was just one way of shutting Amy up." (p. 59)
What Lou is saying doesn't offend me, because Lou doesn't like women. That's the character. What bothers me is that his tactic totally works on her. On numerous occasions, when Amy gets indignant about something (often rightfully so), Lou just waves something shiny in front of her face until she loses her train of thought.
But do you know what I LOVE about this book? (A) The Southern-isms: "You know I've just been busy as a chigger at a picnic" (p. 30). (B) The noir-isms: "Baby didn't know it, but baby was dead" (p. 14). Good enough for me.
SOURCE: Thompson, Jim. (1991). The Killer Inside Me. New York: Vintage Books.