Best 1957 Adventures (10)

By: Joshua Glenn
August 6, 2017

One in a series of 10 posts identifying Josh Glenn’s favorite 1957 adventure novels. Happy 60th anniversary!


Jim Thompson‘s crime adventure The Kill-Off.

Luane Devore, a wealthy, neurotic invalid who spends her days spreading vicious rumors about everyone else in town — Manduwoc, a Jersey Shore resort that’s seen better days — is going to be murdered, this becomes clear right from the start. But who’s going to have done it? Her much younger husband, whom she tricked into marrying her and keeps on a short leash? Dr. Ashton, who’s sleeping with his black housekeeper? The town lawyer? The slutty big-band singer? The heroin-addicted teenage girl? Because each chapter of this thriller is written from the perspective of one of these characters, Thompson fans tend to love it or hate it — there’s no middle ground. Though it’s not one of the author’s very best efforts, I’m in the “love it” camp. Thompson’s knack for ventriloquizing the skewed, often dark perspectives and fantasies harbored by seemingly upright citizens is given a thorough workout, here.

Fun fact: Adapted as an indie neo-noir film, in 1990, by Maggie Greenwald.


Let me know if I’ve missed any 1957 adventures that you particularly admire.


Adventure, Lit Lists