I am currently reading my way through a long list of science fiction and fantasy titles. (http://www.npr.org/2011/08/07/138938145/science-fiction-and-fantasy-finalists if you are interested in the list).
Everyone in the small town of Central City, Texas loves Lou Ford. A deputy sheriff, Lou's known to the small-time criminals, the real-estate entrepreneurs, and all of his coworkers--the low-lifes, the big-timers, and everyone in-between--as the nicest guy around. He may not be the brightest or the most interesting man in town, but nevertheless, he's the kind of officer you're happy to have keeping your streets safe. The sort of man you might even wish your daughter would end up with someday.
But behind the platitudes and glad-handing lurks a monster the likes of which few have seen. An urge that has already claimed multiple lives, and cost Lou his brother Mike, a self-sacrificing construction worker who fell to his death on the job in what was anything but an accident. A murder that Lou is determined to avenge--and if innocent people have to die in the process, well, that's perfectly all right with him.
Read to fill the “Serial/Spree Killer” square for 2107 Halloween Bingo.
This novel is considered a classic in the crime/noir genre and I think it certainly deserves its place there. First published in 1952, it may be one of the earlier books that gives the reader a glimpse into the head of a serial killer. Lou Ford, a deputy sheriff in small town Texas, thinks he can murder his way out of any problem. He spends his time getting the towns folk to believe that he is just a good old boy who wouldn’t hurt a fly and probably isn’t all that bright—and committing sophisticated crimes which, as a member of law enforcement, he knows how to cover up. In many ways, he is the predecessor of Dexter Morgan, the cheerful serial killer who works in Miami as a forensic blood spatter technician. Maybe also to “true crime” books like In Cold Blood by Truman Capote.
The writing is impressive. If you’re female, you’re going to flinch at Lou’s casual attitude to mistreating and killing women, but it’s all part of his persona. Not to mention that it is true to life—art imitating reality. Crime and criminals have been with us forever, but this book helped in the process that brought the awareness of them into current popular culture.