“Kingdom Come”: Moral Corruption in Jim Thompson’s Pop. 1280

Robert Lance Snyder


Arguably his best noir crime novel, Jim Thompson’s Pop. 1280 (1964) pivots off its protagonist’s opening conviction that he has attained a secular equivalent of “Kingdom Come” in his job as sheriff of Pottsville (population 1,280) located somewhere in the American Southwest. Folksy, engaging, but profoundly duplicitous, Nick Corey dispassionately commits four murders and arranges two others, all the while keenly aware not only of his local culture’s gullibility but also, underlying it, a pervasive malaise of moral corruption and hypocrisy. Delusionally thinking himself untainted by such venality, Sheriff Corey by the novel’s end embraces a messianic role as self-appointed scourge of his milieu’s depravity. Thompson’s dramatization of this scenario as played out in small-town America attests to his larger vision of the nation’s latent susceptibility to nihilism amid its postwar prosperity.


Jim Thompson; Pop. 1280

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