I bought this book blind (literally) as it was part of A Blind Date with a Book, a company that hand wraps books from a wide range of genres in plain, brown paper and tags them with clues alluding to the book inside. Mine emerged as The Killer Inside Me by Jim Thompson.
The Killer Inside Me focuses on Lou Ford, the Deputy Sheriff in the small town of Central City in Texas. Lou is reasonable, polite and well-liked by the people of the community. While some think he is a bit dull and boring, that is the worst they have say about him. However, what remains elusive is “the sickness”. Lou was almost imprisoned for it when he was younger and now it is about to emerge again. This time, however, Lou’s family are not around to help him. When the body count begins to rise, the people of Central City start to question whether their friendly Deputy Sheriff is all that he seems to be.
I love crime novels that involve a serial killer and although I have read chapters from the serial killer’s perspective in other books, I have never encountered a novel written entirely from such a point of view. As a result, my feelings towards Lou were so conflicted that I felt like they were being pushed and pulled in opposite directions. A connection was established between myself and Lou because I could really visualise what he was narrating. Hatred towards Lou was generated because of his frightening psychotic behaviour towards other people.
However, sympathy for him is also produced; the reader discovers why he behaves the way he does and this is where the structure of the book really plays with your emotions. You see and hear all that he has done and then you ultimately learn the reason why. If the structure was reversed (i.e. the reason for the murders before they have actually occurred), it would be like reading an Agatha Christie novel and finding out who the killer is before the case has actually happened. The book would be deflated and dull because the reader would already know the ending and therefore not have as much sympathy for Lou. But then the reader begins to question why they are sympathetic towards a psychotic serial killer.
I very much enjoyed having to play an active role while reading this book; it relies heavily on hints and implications and so what is not said is just as important as what is. Lou’s sentences trail off, hinting at past events, but then he moves onto the next point. Consequently, the reader asks: what happened 15 years ago? Although this is never fully and directly explained it is better this way, otherwise the book would be rather dull. Instead, the reader has to work with the insinuations they are given and the beauty of this book is that each reader can interpret what happened many years ago.
Overall, The Killer Inside Me immerses you in the mind of a psychopath and instigates emotional conflict within you as the innocent spectator. This novel requires you to do a bit of legwork as a reader, but I can honestly say that this is a thoroughly enjoyable experience. I found the idea of A Blind Date with A Book brilliant because you cannot judge the book by its cover. Check out their website here: https://blinddatewithabook.com