In 1952, Jim Thompson published The Killer Inside Me, a novel about Lou Ford, a small town sheriff who, while maintaining a personable, if somewhat dim façade, hides the heart of a psychopath. It has earned its place among the classics. Thompson revisited the same situation in Pop. 1,280, with small town Sheriff Nick Corey bearing a strong resemblance in character to Ford. Thompson so defined this little subgenre that in order to avoid being anything but a pale imitation of the original any author who wants to approach it had better have a good twist.
Dave Zeltserman’s Small Crimes (Serpent's Tail, 2008) succeeds in paying homage to Thompson’s work without lapsing into imitation because his dirty cop, Joe Denton, is only fooling himself. Everyone else in the tiny
Zeltserman makes good use of the first person point of view, constantly challenging the reader to use external cues to try and figure out the extent of