Murder at the Bijou (originally titled Nothing More Than Murder) is noir master Jim Thompson’s dizzying tale of deception, adultery, revenge, arson, and cold-blooded murder in Smalltown, U.S.A., Thompson’s favorite setting. In this novel, Thompson’s first major success as a pulp fiction writer, Joe Wilmot, trying to go straight after a stretch in the pen, finds a movie house in a small crossroads that can use a helping hand and someone with half a brain for business. The theater’s owner, Elizabeth, isn’t the smartest operator around – or is she? Joe and the plain Jane Elizabeth decide maybe it would be better for business if they got married. Why not? And then Carol shows up, a bit stale in the eye candy department but ready and willing to serve – in every way.
They’ve got insurance coverage on the movie house; their lives would all be better if the place maybe had an accident, a little fire. But things can go very wrong. And in Murder at the Bijou they do.
Fans of Jim Thompson will recognize the terse dialogue, plot twists and double-crosses, and a belief that nothing in the world is good, all of which makes Stephen King say that Jim Thompson is “My favorite crime novelist – often imitated but never duplicated.”