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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tough and Terrific
This is my first taste of Jim Thompson. I have heard of his work but never read him before. The book came in a bookset of ten others. It's hard not to compare the book with the orginal film starring Steve McQueen. But there's so much more life in the book that soon you'll dismiss the film as throwaway. The characters are tough, ruthless and calculating. There is no...
Published on 21 Oct 2002 by Warren Stalley

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1 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars It's great until falls apart completely
I kinda did The Getaway backwards. I saw the 1994 movie first. Then the 1972 original. Then the book. And while the book is surprisingly very solid I have to admit that Walter Hill's screenplay is actually better. The story is nearly exactly the same up until the final act. Doc McCoy gets out of jail, plans a bank heist, kills his double-crossing partner and goes on the...
Published on 30 Dec 2009 by Inspector Gadget


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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tough and Terrific, 21 Oct 2002
By 
Warren Stalley (Bradford, England) - See all my reviews
This is my first taste of Jim Thompson. I have heard of his work but never read him before. The book came in a bookset of ten others. It's hard not to compare the book with the orginal film starring Steve McQueen. But there's so much more life in the book that soon you'll dismiss the film as throwaway. The characters are tough, ruthless and calculating. There is no happiness just greed, pursuit and mistrust. This is one of those books you can read in a flash but will take a good while to forget. You'll ponder the ending then perhaps want to read the book again. Downbeat but well recommended.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A classic novel, of crime, double cross, and murder!!!, 27 April 1998
By A Customer
An excellent crime/noir novel, about a bank robbery that went bad. There are no heros here, Thompson's characters, are two faced, manipulators, liars, and killers. It was a fast paced read, which held together well. Although the ending is a bit unusual, (with hints of cannibalism, in a Mexican town used as a hideout for fugitives), it is still a believable finale. I agree with another reviewer, as far as the film versions of this novel are concerned, the 1970 classic directed by Sam Peckinpah, starring Steve McQueen, and Ali McGraw is a classic crime film. The remake in 1994, is of poor quality, and might as well be passed up. Instead read another of Thompson's novels, such as The Killer Inside Me" or "After Dark My Sweet", all classic noir worth adding to your library.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the most entertaining and ultimately disturbing novels you'll ever encounter, 11 Feb 2007
By 
C. Mcsloy "I baptised a dog" (Nowhere in particular today) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
The Getaway shows that you can write a "page-turner" that is credible and challenging. Thompson's prose style is sparse but extremely readable, and he gets right into his characters head and exposes the violence and vulnerability of the human animal in a way the many writers who hold him in high regard (Stephen King for one) can only enviously wish for.

What lifts this above the level of cracking genre fiction is the sureal and morally philosophical coda. Doc overcomes much hardship to make it to a Mexican resort long talked about by his consorts as some sort of criminal Mecca. However, he soon finds that despite the idylic settings, it's residents (all criminals on the lam) find their ill-gained spoils quickly eaten up by the uber criminal who runs the resort. Thompson paints this Mexican hideaway in a similar way that Steinbeck portrayed the Jode's California, a cruel place where it is impossible to break even. While reading it I was left with the conclusion that this was some sort of surreal afterlife, and that these morally bankrupt people are living in this hellish society of their own creation.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Morality Tale, 9 Jan 2012
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This review is from: The Getaway (Paperback)
This novel is like a medieval morality tale dressed up in 20th Century clothing.

It starts with a bank robbery set up by "Doc" McCoy, a professional criminal. With glacial efficiency, McCoy and his sidekick Rudy Torrento knock over a bank and getaway as clean as a whistle. They split up and separately head for a prearranged meet-up, once Carter has met his wife, Carol. Torrento, a five-star, silk-lined, ocean-going psychopath, has ideas of his own, and plans to kill Doc and his wife. However, Doc has his own ideas, which are a cut above Rudy's; he knows that Torrento will try and knock him off, so he gets his retaliation in first and shoots Torrento, then goes to pick up Carol.
But then, despite Doc's high intelligence, meticulous planning and vast experience, everything starts to unravel. Torrento isn't dead after all and comes looking for Doc; Carol, entrusted with the loot for a while, manages to lose it to a conman... and so it goes on, with one thing after another going wrong despite Doc's best intentions. For a while they hide out in a dung-heap, which is where the morality tale starts to kick in - the symbolism of this is hard to miss. It finishes in Mexico, in a town that Doc and Carol have always dreamt about as a kind of Shangri-La where they can live happily ever after, beyond the reach of American Law enforcement. But even though they have evaded the Law and "got away with it", this haven turns out not to be what they'd hoped and expected. The pair find themselves trapped in an Earth-bound microcosm of Hell itself, with a mysterious Mexican policeman as Mephistopheles and El Rey, the elderly, benign-seeming man who runs the town, as the Devil himself...

This is a good read; it's interesting to compare it with works by Thompson's contemporaries, such as Mickey Spillane and Ed McBain. Spillane's hero Mike Hammer is little better than the crims he hunts down, and betrays quite pronounced psychopathy himself; the cops of McBain's 87th precinct are the dogged, realistic flatfeet of New York's mean streets. All of them illustrate different sides of the law-crime divide, but of all of them Thompson has made it clearest that not only does crime not pay, but that it has long-lasting intimations of damnation even when it appears to. Doc McCoy is probably the most intensely described and rounded criminal in any of the works by Thompson, McBain or Spillane, yet his well-described, analytical mind is as nought when it comes to dealing with the unseen hand of fate steering him towards an unavoidable doom.
Whether or not you've seen any of the films of this book, read the book and find out what really happened - you'll be glad you did.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Fight or flight, 2 Jan 2014
By 
Officer Dibble (Zummerzet) - See all my reviews
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I read the Crime Masterworks paperback version. They make a very nice series on the bookshelf with the elite of crime writers represented.

As the title suggests, very little time is spent on the actual crime rather the struggle to escape the consequences. The main character is Doc McCoy, a man variously described as a charmer, good-natured, agreeable, tender, amusing and insightful. However, he proceeds to slaughter his way around the south-western states of America regardless of the victim being friend or foe.

The moral ambiguity of so many of 1950's crime thrillers is bewildering. Mayhem and slaughter are mere commonplace but the the slightest hint of a sexual relationship is taboo. What is that famous saying about training young pilots to bomb innocent civilians yet threatening them with Court Martial if they chalk a rude word on the sides of the bombs they drop?

There are some memorable scenes as the Doc and his wife Carol desperately try to get away from justice. As the novel progresses the question develops of was it all worth it? The answer at the end has provoked quite a response as you will see from other reviewers. It is a very odd ending indeed. Perhaps to a British reader it also carries ambiguity from the title itself; a 'Getaway' in the sense of a place of seclusion and peace, a safe haven, or is it?
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4.0 out of 5 stars Crime Drama, 16 Nov 2012
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A good read which was enjoyable , although the ending left a little to be desired. Worth the money though.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Key stone hard cops, 3 Jan 2011
By 
Dr. Delvis Memphistopheles "FIST" (London) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Getaway (Paperback)
Psychological thriller with the emphasis on the psycho deeply imbued with logic. Jim perhaps understood more than any other psychotherapeutic writer, a man transforming into a killing machine. The bleed of empathy etched in his writings as hieroglyphics for only the sane to decode. Meanwhile the rest just skip forward locked within the eternal plot caught by the need to satiate an inquisitiveness that brooks no introspection; rubber neck readers.

The opening of this book is pure human boiled essence, distilled within a few sentences and vignettes missed within any gallop of the unfurling disrobery.

Racism, class, status, masculinity and guile are beaten into the mortar of violence. Insomnia as a byproduct of terror laid out in the first 13 pages. Enough to make all the various texts on criminology and psychopathology P45 redundant with their abstract genetic sociological abstract theorising clutched as Teddy Bears by the socially autistic parading as seers. Jim does it all with the flick of his pen and the description of a few scenarios and then away he gallops. The big difference between Jim and lesser mortals is he knew himself outside and in, he may not have liked it but he saw what had happened.

Inside his skin he was wracked upon his childhood legacy. This understanding of the rack allowed him to depict the inner turmoil. All undertaken in an age of non understanding, the 1940's was awash with psychological revolutions as it merged into the 1950's. Bowlby, Spitz, Winnicott and object relations/attachment provided scientific proof of Jim's dimestore populist insights.

Jim is much more than a pulp Doesteovsky. He is the thinking man's Freud stripped of the bells and whistles of pseudo pretension. Jim put in his dark day shifts at the debauched sheet soiled hotels, bone dry oil rigs, selling rubbish concoctions/scams to dreamers, collecting money owed from the poor; all undertaken within a prism of his burgeoning Wobbly belief system. Rapidly turning bitter sour within a chasmic world wide depression which swallowed the vitality out of young people's life and spat them out old before their time.

The Getaway is imbued with this era, small town life sharply caught, with a ground Leica lens, high definition. There is not an ounce of surrealism within this book. This is how it is on the frontline of humanity where the stars no longer shine and a desert of the past stretches out long bone hard dry. Armed robberies gone wrong and paranoia intertwine, leading to wooden markers in Boot Camp Hill. The future may produce visions of a thigh and a white line of confidence but the past is always cantering up to the present to envelop and consume the moment.

Read with care, this book is more than the sum of its plot, that exists to trap the reader and leave a subconscious mark. The real meat and bones resides in his words evoking the rationale, the scenarios of humiliation, the desperation to push your way to the top no matter how base. Jim like Ferdinand like Charles like Nelson like Hubert like Knut understood life lived outside of the cosy inner cotton wool dociled centre. On the outskirts men lived bleak hard lives but the emphasis is on the Living. Each second fought for and inhabited. This book details that process demanding you find the key to unblock and unlock an inner door to enter and then escape from what you find.

As for the ending having worked with armed robbers over 25 years, it is prescient. Whilst there is two thousand miles between Bermondsey and Marbella the connections are the same between Oklahoma and El Rey Mexico. Lying on the beach, glowing in the sun whilst the money goes drip drip drip. Eventually it runs out and back they come to do "one last job". Parkhurst on the Isle of Wight is replete with the testimony. Armed robbery whilst it brings great rewards in the short term allowing the individual to rise above the throng, rarely produces a long lasting legacy other than an early psychic or physical death remembered fondly and well.
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4.0 out of 5 stars So good I bought the DVD of the film..., 13 April 2009
By 
J. Jarvis "jjarvis1959" (Burton on Trent, UK) - See all my reviews
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Excellent story, well told, engrossing page turner. I bought the DVD of the film (Steve McQueen) on the back of the book - I hope it's as entertaining (in a gruesome way...)
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5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning crime yarn, 20 Jun 2008
Read this is if you want a slick, absorbing, surprisingly brutal tale of robbery and betrayal.

This is the first Jim Thompson book I read, and I inhaled it as soon as possible. He is a first rate story teller and I recommend this strongly if you enjoy good crime stories. Fantastic stuff.
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1 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars It's great until falls apart completely, 30 Dec 2009
By 
Inspector Gadget "Go Go Gadget Reviews" (On the trail of Doctor Claw) - See all my reviews
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I kinda did The Getaway backwards. I saw the 1994 movie first. Then the 1972 original. Then the book. And while the book is surprisingly very solid I have to admit that Walter Hill's screenplay is actually better. The story is nearly exactly the same up until the final act. Doc McCoy gets out of jail, plans a bank heist, kills his double-crossing partner and goes on the lam with his wife after killing Jack Benyon. But instead of the satisfying conclusion of the film Jim Thompson deviates from the logical progression of the story and goes off in a bizarre tangent that leads to a depressing ending.

I've always said that movies of books should always be as different as they are similar. The Getaway is the best kind of starkly-written pulp fiction with on-the-nose dialogue and violence described with brutal frankness. I'm glad the film kept the natural tempo of the story instead of sticking with Thompson's "El Rey" ending. I can't imagine what he was thinking when he sabotaged his own novel this way. If it weren't for this it would be a solid 4-star review, as it is I'm afraid it's a 3-star.
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The Getaway
The Getaway by Jim Thompson (Paperback - 3 Aug 2006)
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