Jim Thompson is among my most beloved authors, a rough king of noir who tends to tell unwholesome tales from the point of view of the nastiest of the nasty. I have recommended his Hell of a Woman before (it's a quintessential noir complete with double crossing and femme fatales,) today I recommend a slightly different novel, the rather wild The Nothing Man.
Clint Brown is the nothing man, a sad-sack-smart-alec bitter about the loss of a certain masculine physical appendage during the war. The loss of his virility leads him down a crazy road when he decides his whore of a wife must be set on fire. Which leads to more murders of more women?or does it?
This is a bizarre book, the kind that has too many odd coincidences to be entirely believable and carries a constant under-taste of madness. Not everyone will be taken with this at times hilarious (the description of the way he would murder a friend's nagging wife with mayonnaise), at times bleak (the fact that he seriously does contemplate the murder of every woman he meets) story if simply for the reason that you can never totally understand the motives of the narrator. The books strangeness elevates it to more than just a pulp classic but (kind of like one of my other favorite books, Rendezvous in Black), a haunting tale that lingers in your thoughts for a long time after you put it down.
This is one of Thompson's least well known novels, but well worth checking out. I plan to eventually read all twenty nine of his books and will be sad when there are no more left. He was just plain awesome.