Salesman Roy Dillon has a secret life as a top shelf grifter. When he has the opportunity to go legit, how will the women in his life take it? Will his downfall be at the hands of his girlfriend Moira Langtry, or his mother, Lilly?
Here we are, another noir tale of self-destruction by Mr. Happy, Jim Thompson.
"Don't trust anyone ever" seems to be the moral of The Grifters. Not surprising since most of the main characters are shady croooks and grifters to some degree. Roy runs short cons. Moira Langtry pays her way through life with her body. Lilly Dillon is mixed up with some shady gamblers. Not one of them should be left unsupervised.
Roy's a little more sympathetic than most Jim Thompson leads. He's conflicted about his grifting lifestyle and just seems tired. Not only that, he's got serious mommy issues, nicely illustrated by the resemblance between his girlfriend and his mother.
The Grifters is a slow burn and the ending is pretty spectacular, cold, violent, and more than a little creepy. I've seen similar endings written since but I don't think any of them were as effective.
This is a top shelf Jim Thompson book, belonging on the same tier as The Killer Inside Me and Pop. 1280. Four out of five stars.